Did you know these fascinating facts about Lewiston-Auburn history?
- In 1965, the eyes of the entire world were on Lewiston-Auburn, as the greatest boxer of all-time, Muhammad Ali (then named Cassius Clay), came here to successfully defend his heavyweight crown against Sonny Liston;
- In 2006, actor Patrick Dempsey of Gray’s Anatomy fame—born in Lewiston and who still has close ties to the community through his Dempsey Center—was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Drama at the Golden Globes;
- In 2017, Forbes Magazine named Lewiston one of its “Top 25 Places to Retire,” citing a low cost of living, good access to medical care, and an extremely low violent crime rate;
- In late 2020, Auburn was named in the Top 10 Best Places to Live in Maine for 2021.
Although it doesn’t always grab the attention of a Portland or a Kennebunkport, Lewiston-Auburn is more and more becoming one of THE great places to live and work in Maine. Maybe that’s why more people choose to live here than in any other Maine city except Portland!
Tracing its roots to 1669 and the Androscoggin tribe, Lewiston-Auburn (then part of Massachusetts) became, throughout the 18th century, populated by families from Quebec who were attracted by the area’s rich opportunities for lumbering and manufacturing work. Incorporated in 1795, Lewiston swiftly became an economic mecca, drawing the attention of Boston tycoon Benjamin Bates, who, in 1864, would give his name to Bates College, one of five colleges and universities now in the area.
By the early-to-mid-19th century, as the area’s abundant sources of water power became harnessed, Lewiston’s location on the Androscoggin River continued to make it a perfect location for emerging industry. Under the leadership of Benjamin Bates and other captains of industry, the area successfully created its transition into a textile manufacturing center. Soon, the Bates manufacturing trusts spurred rapid economic growth, resulting in Lewiston becoming the wealthiest city in Maine. From the 1850s to the late 20th century, The Bates Mill remained the largest employer in Lewiston.
Although Lewiston-Auburn struggled mightily with the textile and manufacturing exodus from New England that spanned the 1950s through the 1990s, the area instituted an urban renewal plan that, by 2002, had resulted in Lewiston-Auburn claiming the title of #1 in economic development in Maine, according to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. In 2007, Lewiston earned an “All-America City Award” from the National Civic League.
Today, Lewiston-Auburn offers an oh-so-rare blend of laid-back Maine and hip cultural mecca. As The Boston Globe noted: “Today, many people are making [Lewiston-Auburn] artsier, hipper, and more attractive to visitors. L/A has a first-rate art museum, world-class dance, and interesting music, theater, and restaurants.”
And a first-rate history.
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