Bangor is the major city in, and county seat of, Penobscot County, incorporated as a town on February 24, 1834 from the former Kunduskee (or Kenduskeag) Plantation.
On March 26, 1853 the Queen City was incorporated as a city just at the beginning of its legendary history as a booming community when logging was king.
The area was first settled by Jacob Buswell and his family in 1769. Others came and went, but even by the beginning of the 19th century Kenduskeag Plantation was a struggling frontier outpost. One estimate has the population at about 150 in 1790.
During the War of 1812, the British forged up the Penobscot River, shelled the community, and ignited a disastrous fire, virtually destroying it.
Life was breathed into the area when Maine separated from Massachusetts in 1820. At the time, the vast Maine timberlands were put on the block for private speculation. The wealth of the woods drew investors and fortune hunters.
By the 1830s, Bangor, now a city, was building 500 structures annually. It boasted luxury residences, a grand hotel, a lovely downtown and hoped to surpass Boston in size and importance.
In 1834, the 264-acre Mount Hope Cemetery was established. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is the second oldest garden cemetery in America, designed to serve as a haven for the living as well as a final resting-place for the deceased.
Until the 1870s, Bangor was the lumber capital of the world with a billion board feet of lumber shipped from its docks. By the 1880's, the lumber industry had declined significantly, as did the city's economy.
Other smaller industries soon emerged to fill the economic gap left by lumber - shoes, paper, fishing rods, tourism. Cheap hydroelectric power encouraged quantity and diversity. This industrial adaptation would come to a tragic halt on April 30, 1911, the day of the Great Fire. Fifty-five commercial and residential acres burned in one of Maine's worst fires.
The economic disaster of the Great Fire was real, but the city rebuilt quickly with the best materials available, in the most avant-garde styles, using architects from Boston and New York as well as Bangor. The Great Fire District is an architectural monument to the dynamic spirit and will to survive.
Recent years have seen real renewal in the city's downtown with a children's museum, a local theater company, and recreational development of the Penobscot riverfront.
The Queen City's famous citizens include Hannibal Hamlin, Abraham Lincoln's first Vice-President; William S. Cohen, a U.S. Senator and Secretary of Defense; and a series of governors.
From Maine: An Encyclopedia (www.themaineencyclopedia.com)