Showing posts with label Casino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Casino. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

There's More to Discover in Bangor, Maine

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012
Construction cranes dwarf
Bangor's Paul Bunyan statue.
Seems people have been discovering Bangor, Maine ever since the Portuguese mariner, Estavan Gomez, a captain in Magellan’s round-the-world fleet, sailed the La Anunciada up the Penobscot River in search of the legendary Northwest Passage to the Orient in 1525 under commission of King Charles V of Spain. French explorer Samuel de Champlain was also documented to discover the area in 1604. However, the city wasn’t officially incorporated until 1791 at which time it was named after an Irish Hymn, “Bangor”, by a pastor from Boston named Seth Noble. A healthy fishing and fur trade drew the earliest settlers to the area. Then Maine’s vast forests brought wealth beyond compare to the region making Bangor the lumber capital of the world and one of the busiest ports on the East Coast by the 1850s. Shipbuilding and shipping commerce thrived until the twentieth century when pulp and paper industries took their place. Since then, Bangor’s central location has grown into a social and economic center for the state and offers the region a wide selection of retail and service businesses, education and employment opportunities.

Recent development of Bangor’s waterfront along the Penobscot River has not only enhanced its beauty, its brought entertainment and cultural growth to the city in the form of the an annual Folk Festival, Waterfront Concerts, Hollywood Casino and Raceway, plus revitalization of it’s historic Opera House which houses the Penobscot Theatre Company. There are also a growing number of museums and galleries in the area, including Maine Discovery Children’s Museum and Cole’s Transportation Museum. Its history is very rich, especially in Bass Park, the home of the Bangor State Fair, one of the oldest in the country, and a raceway that’s featured harness racing since 1893.
© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012

Yes, there is definitely a lot to discover in and about Bangor, Maine. That’s the reason why a construction site on Main Street stretches all the way from Dutton Street to the corner of Buck Street and is changing the view of the entrance to historic Bass Park once again. Major changes to this block in my lifetime have included the 1955 opening of the now soon-to-be-demolished, v-roofed Bangor Auditorium. It was constructed behind an older auditorium, which preceded it, and was the second largest event center in New England at that time. The old structure was eventually torn down in 1967 leaving a nice park area behind the location where Bangor’s famous Paul Bunyan statue came to reside in 1959. The 31-foot, fiberglass and metal woodsman, which Bangor claims as its mythical son, was a gift to the city on its 125th anniversary and has a time capsule enclosed in its pedestal that's slated to be opened in 2084. Do not think I'll live to see that, but I have witnessed Paul, the statue, in an oversized Shriner fez to promote a convention and a bandanna for a Willie Nelson concert in July 1986 (which I have fond behind-the-scenes memories of ). The Paul Bunyan statue has even been part of the Stephen King novel, It, and, I dare say, is possibly photographed more than Stephen King or his Bangor Italianate style mansion with its surrounding unique, but fitting, bat and spider motif wrought-iron fencing.

In recent years, Hollywood Slots, newly renamed Hollywood Casino, has taken up residence across from the Bass Park entrance, where older hotels and businesses once stood, and from its parking garage you can easily view construction of the brand new Bangor Event Center, which will replace the oddly shaped, v-roofed auditorium that stands like a shadow behind it. This new structure is reclaiming space where the original auditorium once stood and is scheduled to open in July 2013.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012
As I mentioned earlier, I have fond memories of the Bangor Auditorium. It’s where I first saw a circus, interviewed Ted Nugent without any film in my camera, listened to a Willie Nelson concert through a headset with his lighting director, and attended a grandson’s high school graduation. Now, I’m getting itchy to see what exciting memories this new arena might bring to the city of Bangor, and of course, me.

Click these links if you are interested in progress on the new Bangor Event Center, or visiting Bangor, Maine.

Photographs and "Nosing Around Maine" Blog Posts © 2012 Gail J. VanWart
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