It’s not an unusual scenario: A Bangor resident is giving directions to someone less familiar with the city, and suddenly is explaining that Hammond Street ends in one spot, then begins again almost a mile away.
Sometimes you might even have to explain that there’s another Hammond Street, which juts off the second Hammond Street, and ends next to an old cemetery.
It’s not the only example of a Bangor street with a seemingly nonsensical stop and restart. If you’re not already accustomed to this, it may seem thoroughly inexplicable. But there are reasons for these traffic patterns, and some of them are as interesting as the weird streets themselves.
Hammond and Outer Hammond streets
As we already mentioned, it has long puzzled drivers in Bangor as to why Hammond Street ends and then begins again about a mile later. The reason has to do with the Cold War-era expansion of Dow Air Force Base, the military installation that was the precursor to Bangor International Airport.
Before 1956, Hammond Street extended out in a straight, approximately four-mile shot from downtown Bangor to the Bangor-Hermon town line. In 1956, however, the U.S. Air Force decided to expand the runway at Dow Air Force Base to accommodate the then-new B-52 Stratofortress, a massive plane that required a huge amount of runway space.
That runway expansion cut straight through a nearly mile-long stretch of Hammond Street, taking multiple buildings with it. To reconnect both ends of Hammond Street, Odlin Road was extended between the two, creating what people in the 1950s and 60s called “the bulge” — where the runway “bulged” into the rest of the city. That section of Odlin Road wasn’t renamed Hammond Street, however — it’s still, to this day, known as Odlin Road.
Dow Air Force Base closed in 1968, and was sold to the city and renamed Bangor International Airport. And a short portion of the old Hammond Street remains, accessible by a turn across the street from the Ranger Inn. That small section is a bit of a time warp, according to Bangor historian Dick Shaw, who says you can still see some remnants of pre-1956 Bangor there.
“It’s fascinating. There’s still some old pavement out there, and there’s an old cemetery, and if you look across the runway, you can see where Hammond Street used to connect,” Shaw said. “Some nights I’ll take a sandwich out there and just watch the lights.”
It’s also fitting that the offices for the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation are located on that little strip of old Hammond Street — a tiny road by a cemetery, forgotten by time, that only constant readers would be able to find.
Another example of a road ending, then beginning again elsewhere, exists off Broadway, near Six Mile Falls. Pushaw Road runs from Route 221 in Glenburn along the western shore of Pushaw Lake, before ending at Broadway, also Route 15, in Bangor.
Except it doesn’t technically end. About 500 feet southwest of the intersection of Pushaw Road and Broadway is the Kenduskeag Stream. On the other side of the stream, a little over 1,000 feet away, Pushaw Road starts again, and runs for about another half mile before ending (for real this time) at Finson Road, near the Capehart neighborhood.
Nearly 100 years ago, a bridge carried Pushaw Road over the Kenduskeag Stream. BDN reader and Glenburn resident Laurie Walton found an old BDN article from March 1936, detailing the fallout from a large flood that occurred that month, which washed out not just the Dudley Bridge, which carried Pushaw Road over the Kenduskeag, but also the Bull’s Eye bridge, which carried Griffin Road over the stream.
While the Bull’s Eye bridge was replaced with the Griffin Road bridge we’re familiar with today, the Dudley Bridge was not, with city officials stating in the 1936 article that it was “not much used” and that there were “other roads to town from Six Mile Falls.” The city never got around to renaming the section of Pushaw Road cut off from the rest of the road, however, so the disconnected half-mile spur retains the name — even the street numbers continue in the correct order from the other side of the stream.
York Street and Bangor Alley
Say you were in downtown Bangor, and you wanted to walk from the Bangor Arts Exchange on Exchange Street over to West Market Square. The most efficient way would be to walk down York Street, past the Bangor Savings Bank drive-through, over the bridge and then up the short street known as Bangor Alley, to the square.
Except that, when you cross that bridge and then walk behind the Charles Inn, you’re not technically on a named city street. That approximately 250-foot stretch, despite being a public way open to both cars and pedestrians, is neither York Street, Bangor Alley, nor nearby Hancock Street. According to Bangor city planner Anne Krieg, it’s not named anything.
The naming anomaly is almost certainly because of the urban renewal movement of the 1960s, when the entire area along the Kenduskeag Stream between Exchange Street and Pickering Square was razed and rebuilt, Krieg said.
“The development in that era encompassed an entire city block. If you look at the historic photos before that happened, you’d see lots of buildings, all with little alleys and throughways,” Krieg said. “It very well may have been something that just remained or got cut off when the new development came in.”
Even though part of her job description is to understand all the different parts of the city, and how they all fit together, Krieg said, there are still surprises she uncovers in her day-to-day work.
“Sometimes you find these odd little places that you never knew existed, that you uncover when you’re looking for something completely different,” Krieg said. “That’s always a lot of fun.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Laurie Walton’s name.