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Lewiston is a city in Androscoggin Countymarker in the U.S. state of Mainemarker and the second-largest city in the state. The population was 38,000 at the 2007 census. It is one of two principal cities of and included within the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine Metropolitan New England City and Town Area and the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine Metropolitan Statistical Area (which is part of the Portlandmarker-Lewiston-South Portlandmarker, Maine Combined Statistical Area).

A former industrial center, it is located in south-central Maine, at the falls of the Androscoggin River, across from Auburnmarker. Lewiston and Auburn are often thought of as a single entity and referred to as Lewiston-Auburn, which is colloquially abbreviated as L-A or L/A, and have and a combined population of roughly 65,000 people. Lewiston is home to Bates Collegemarker, the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paulmarker, the University of Southern Mainemarker's Lewiston-Auburn College, and two significant regional general hospitals: Central Maine Medical Center and Saint Mary's Regional Medical Centermarker.

History

Early period

A grant composing the area of Lewiston was given to Moses Little and Jonathan Bagley, members of the Pejepscot Proprieters, on January 28, 1768 on the condition that fifty families lived in the area before June 1, 1774. Bagley and Little named the new town "Lewistown". Paul Hildreth was the first man to settle in Lewiston in the fall of 1770. By 1795, Lewiston was officially incorporated as a town. At least four houses that have survived from this period are currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Industrial development period

Lewiston was a slow but steadily growing farm town throughout its early history. By the early to mid 1800s, however, as water power was being honed, Lewiston's location on the Androscoggin River would prove to make it a perfect location for emerging industry.

In 1809, Michael Little built a large wooden sawmill next to the falls. Burned in 1814 by an arsonist, it was later rebuilt. In 1836, local entrepreneurs — predominantly the Little family and friends — formed the Androscoggin Falls Dam, Lock and Canal Company:
"...for the purpose of erecting and constructing dams, locks, canals, mills, works, machines, and buildings on their own lands and also manufacturing cotton, wool, iron, steel, and paper in the towns of Lewiston, Minotmarker, and Danville."


Later reorganized as the Lewiston Water Power Company the new sales of stock attracted Boston investors — including Thomas J. Hill, Lyman Nichols, George L. Ward, Alexander De Witt, and Benjamin E. Bates (namesake of the Bates Mill and Bates Collegemarker) – who financed a canal system and several textile mills on the Androscoggin River. This began Lewiston's transformation from a small farming town into a textile city on the model provided by Lowell, Massachusettsmarker. The Bates Mill remained the largest employer in Lewiston from the 1850s to the 21st century.

Lewiston's population boomed in the 19th century. In 1849 the railroad came to Lewiston. With it came a significant amount of Irish workers moving into the city to help build the canals and mills. During the Civil War, high demand for textiles provided Lewiston with a strong industrial base. Starting in the 1870s, railroad connections to Canadamarker brought an even more significant influx of French-Canadian millworkers, replacing the former "yankee millgirls", and the city's population has been largely Franco-American since. The Franco-Americans settled in an area downtown that became known as "Little Canada". From 1840 to 1890, Lewiston's population exploded from 1,801 to 21,701. During this time, in 1863, Lewiston was incorporated as a city.

The local Kora Shrine was organized in 1891 and held its first meetings in a Masonic temple on Lisbon street. This group would from 1908 to 1910 build the Kora Temple on Sabattus street, the largest home of a fraternal organization in the state. Architect George M. Coombs designed this Moorish style structure.

City leaders decided to build a cathedral in which the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland could relocate. Construction of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul began in 1905 and ended in 1938, mostly funded through thousands of small donations from Lewiston residents. It is the largest Roman Catholic Church in Maine, and Lewiston's most prominent landmark. While the Diocese of Portland did not relocate to Lewiston, the church became a basilica in 2004. It is one of the few American basilicas located outside of a major metropolitan area.
Lewiston factories circa 1910


Industrial decline period

After World War I, profits from the textile industry in New England mill towns such as Lewiston, Manchester, New Hampshiremarker, Waterbury, Connecticutmarker, and Fall Rivermarker, Haverhillmarker, Lawrencemarker, and Lowell, Massachusettsmarker began to decline. Businesses began moving to the South due to lower costs of power from more modern technologies (Lewiston's water wheel technology gave way to hydroelectricity, cheaper transportation (as most cotton and materials came from the South), and cheaper labor.

Starting in the late 1950s, many of Lewiston's textile mills began closing. This gradually led to a run-down and abandoned downtown area. Chain stores previously located downtown—Woolworth's, W. T. Grant, S. S. Kresge, JC Penney and Sears Roebuck—shut their doors or moved to malls on the outskirts of Lewiston or Auburn. The city's flagship department store, the four-story B. Peck & Co., closed after more than a century in business in 1982. As businesses and jobs began to leave the city, people followed. The population stopped increasing at its previous rate and began to slowly decline after 1970, then at a greater rate in the 1990s.

Economic diversification and renaissance

Following a difficult economic period in the 1980s that saw high unemployment and downtown stagnation, several key events have led to a period of economic and cultural renaissance, including the transformation of the historic Bates Mill Complex. Because the city took over vomplex in 1992 after back taxes went unpaid, years of taxpayer frustration in the city's need to maintain the behemoth led to two referenda (one non-binding vote, the other binding). Voters soundly supported the need to pursue redevelopment by maintaining the property and selling it to private developers. In 2001, the city sold three mill buildings to local developers. Platz Associates, then in 2003, sold the Bates Mill Complex, with the exception of Mill 5 and a small support building. For the next four years, a number of business enterprises flourished after Platz redeveloped the mill building.

In May 2004, the city of Lewiston announced a plan for urban renewal near its downtown area. The plan is to demolish several blocks of nineteenth-century millworker housing, lay new streets with updated infrastructure, construct more owner-occupied, lower-density housing, and build a boulevard through one neighborhood using federal Community Development Block Grant funds provided over a period of ten years. Many residents of the affected neighborhoods felt that the plan was initially announced with very little input from them. They formed a neighborhood group called "The Visible Community," which has since been actively involved in the planning process, which has resulted has been cooperation between neighbors and city officials to redesign Kennedy Park, including input on the location of new basketball courts, and feedback regarding creation of the largest all-concrete skate park in Maine.

Downtown is now home to a new headquarters for Oxford Networks, along with a $20 million upgrade in local fiber-optics, a new auto parts store, a campus for Andover Collegemarker, the headquarters for Northeast Bank, a parking garage, and the newly renovated Maine Supply Co. building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That facility is now called the Business Service Center at Key Bank Plaza, and is home to the local Chamber of Commerce, the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, and an innovative arrangement with a number of business service providers.

The area's renaissance has gained local, regional, and national recognition. In 2002 and again in 2006, the L-A area led the state in economic development activity, according to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development's list of business investments and expansions. In a 2006 KPMG International study measuring the cost of locating and maintaining a business, Lewiston ranked first among the New England communities analyzed, and finished 24th out of 49 U.S. communities analyzed.

Lewiston also earned a 2007 All-America City Award designation by the National Civic League. The national competition “recognizes communities whose residents work together to identify and tackle community-wide challenges and achieve measurable, uncommon results.” Only 10 cities are selected as All-America Cities each year. Lewiston was the first Maine city to earn the distinction since Auburnmarker in 1967.

Somali and Bantu migration

In 1999 and at the urging of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the United States government began preparations to resettle an estimated 12,000 refugees from the Bantu minority ethnic group in Somalia to select cities throughout the United States. Most of the early arrivals in the United States settled in Clarkstonmarker, Georgiamarker, a city adjacent to Atlantamarker, but the latter contend that they encountered problems there with local criminals.

Word soon spread that a small town in Maine by the name of Lewiston had a low crime rate, good schools and cheap housing, and even reached as far as the refugee camps in Kenya. Somalis subsequently began trickling in to the former mill town, soon followed en masse by hundreds of Bantus over a period of just a few months.

In 2006, it was estimated that well over 50% of Somali immigrant adults were still unemployed, even after 5 years from their arrival in Lewiston as reported by William Finnegan of New Yorker Magazine. A 2008 report by the State of Maine's Department of Labor confirmed the anecdote showing unemployment at 51%.

In October 2002, then-Mayor Laurier T. Raymond wrote an open letter addressed to leaders of the Somali community, predicting a negative impact on the city's social services and requesting that they discourage further relocation to Lewiston. The letter angered some people and prompted some community leaders and residents to speak out against the mayor, drawing national attention. Demonstrations were held in Lewiston, both by those who supported the Bantus' presence and those who opposed it.

Phone calls and mail from Lewiston residents to the Mayor ran 20 to 1 in support of the Mayor's letter.

In January 2003, a small white supremacist group demonstrated in Lewiston in support of what they believed the mayor meant, prompting a simultaneous counter-demonstration of about 4,000 people at Bates College and the organization of the "Many and One Coalition". Only 32 attended the rally by the white supremacist group. The Mayor was out of state on the day of the rallies, while the governor and other dignitaries attended.

In 2006, a frozen severed pig's head was thrown into a Lewiston mosque while the faithful were praying. This was considered very offensive by the town's Muslim community, as swine is viewed as unclean in Islam and eating pork is prohibited. The culprit admitted to the act and claimed it to be a joke. He later committed suicide.

Economy

Central Maine Medical Center is the city's largest employer. Lewiston-Auburn has also become one of Maine's busiest distribution and logistics hubs. The area is served by the Saint Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad and northern New England's only double-stack freight container service, along with an intermodal transportation facility. Auburn became a U.S. Customs Port of Entry in 2002. In 2004, Auburn received approval to establish a Foreign Trade Zone encompassing . A number of distribution centers are located in the area, including the state's largest facility, a Wal-Martmarker food distribution center serving New England Wal-Mart Supercenters.

Culture

The Lewiston Public Librarymarker has played a major role in the emerging culture of Lewiston. It was renovated and expanded in 1996. The library is located downtown on the corner of Lisbon Street and Pine Street and has over 100,000 books in its collection. Recently, it has opened the Marsden Hartley Cultural Center, holding various events such as concerts and film festivals.

A former mill building honors the people who worked and lived in this community. At Museum L-A, located in the Bates Mill Complex, visitors can walk through a simulated production line, then view exhibits covering the textile, shoe, and brick industries that once thrived in Lewiston and Auburn.

The Franco-American Heritage Center opened recently in what was formerly St. Mary's Parish. The building acts as a center for Franco-American related performances as well as a museum of the city's Franco-American past.

Much of the artistic life of the city revolves around the Bates College Museum of Artmarker and the Atrium Gallery at the University of Southern Mainemarker campus in Lewiston.

Lewiston also features The Public Theatremarker, which puts on different plays throughout the year with about six to eight productions per season.

Events

  • The Great Falls Balloon Festival - Held annually, fills the Lewiston sky with hot air balloons for a festival weekend in August.
  • Festival FrancoFun - Formerly known as Festival de Joie, Festival FrancoFun is held annually at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee and is a celebration of the city's Franco-American heritage. The festival features performances from French-Canadian musicians as well as nativeFrench-Canadian food.
  • Liberty Festival - Held on July 4 of each year, the festival is the name given to the fireworks event over the Great Falls of the Androscoggin River in between the twin cities.


Media

The city's daily newspaper, the Lewiston Sun Journal is one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the state, serving many areas neighboring the twin cities. It was established as the Lewiston Daily Sun in 1893.

The free periodical the Twin City Times is published in Auburn and can be found at many different businesses around Lewiston.

Bates College's Radio Station, WRBC, is a very popular and widely participated college radio station. During the summer and other college vacations, citizens from the Lewiston area are allowed to participate in broadcasting and sign up for their own radio shows.

Sports and recreation

Androscoggin Bank Colisee
The center of sports in Lewiston is the Androscoggin Bank Coliséemarker (formerly known as the Central Maine Civic Center). The Lewiston Maineiacs, the only American team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League play here. The Maineiacs won the President's Cup for the 2006-2007 season. Several Maineiacs have been drafted by the NHL, some in the early rounds of the draft. The Colisée is also the home to the state Class A and Class B high school hockey championships each year. The city as a whole is known for its strong passion for the game of hockey, likely related to its French-Canadian heritage. Two Lewiston schools, Lewiston High School and St. Dominic Regional High Schoolmarker (now located in Auburn), combine for over half of the state class A high school hockey championships in the state's history.

In 1965, Lewiston was the site of a Muhammad Ali--Sonny Liston heavyweight title fight. Only 2,434 fans were present at The Lewiston Colisee, which set the all-time record for the lowest attendance for a boxing heavyweight championship fight.

In much of the 20th century, Lewiston was also a center of snowshoeing activity. International and national snowshoeing conventions were regularly held in the city during the middle of winter. The festivities included snowshoe races, a coronation ball, and an awards ceremony.http://usm.maine.edu/lac/franco/news/070205afr.html

Transportation

Lewiston is located on I-95 (the Maine Turnpike) at exit 80.

Vermont Transit operates a bus station downtown with buses going Southbound to Bostonmarker.They also run Northbound buses en route to Bangormarker. Both bus routes make stops in cities along the way.

Public transportation is offered in the twin cities through CityLink, also known as "purple bus" (the buses are purple). It operates nine different bus lines throughout the twin cities, four of which go through Lewiston.

Education

Lewiston's public education system has recently seen a number of new buildings constructed for Farwell Elementary School and Pettingill School, now replaced with the 600 Student capacity Geiger Elementary School. Plans to redo the cities Thomas J. McMahon School are under way.

The city is also home to Bates Collegemarker, one of the most prestigious small colleges in the country.

Colleges and universities



Public schools



Private schools



Geography

Lewiston is located at (44.097473, -70.192416) .According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.2 square miles (91.1 km²), of which, 34.1 square miles (88.3 km²) of it is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km²) of it (3.13%) is water. Lewiston is drained by the Androscoggin River, which is located on its western border. Lewiston is bordered by the city of Auburn beyond the river, and the towns of Greenemarker, Sabattusmarker, and Lisbonmarker. It is located between Portlandmarker, the state's biggest city and cultural center, and the state capital of Augustamarker.

Climate

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 35,690 people, 15,290 households, and 8,654 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,047.0 people per square mile (404.2/km²). There were 16,470 housing units at an average density of 483.2/sq mi (186.5/km²). The racial makeup was 95.75% White, 1.07% African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.84% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.36% from other races, and 1.66% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.26% of the population.

People of French descent are by far the most represented ethnic group in Lewiston, with 29.4% being of French-Canadian descent and 18.3% French. Following French are Irish at 10.2% and English at 9.9%. These numbers are from the 2000 Census, so do not include the recent migration of Bantus to the city.

There were 15,290 households out of which 25.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.4% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.81.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,191, and the median income for a family was $40,061. Males had a median income of $30,095 versus $21,810 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,905. About 10% of families and 15.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.8% of those under age 18 and 12.5% of those age 65 or over.

Language
From Modern Language Association Data Center
Language Population Percentage (%)
English 24,250 72.51%
French 8,620 25.77%
Spanish 280 0.83%
Other languages 293 0.88%


Voter Registration
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of November, 2006
Party Total Voters Percentage

Republican 4,146 17.7%

Democratic 10,678 45.6%

Unaffiliated 7,680 32.8%

Green Party 869 3.8%

Minor Parties 27 0.1%
Total 23,400 100%


Notable residents

City Hall in 1908
Many others have ties to Lewiston from attending Bates College:

In popular culture

  • The Farmer's Almanac is printed in Lewiston.
  • Lewiston is the setting for the fictitious Kingdom Hospital, featured in the thirteen-episode miniseries developed by horror writer Stephen King. In 1999 when King was struck by a car while walking in Lovell, Mainemarker, he was flown by helicopter and treated at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. In the mini-series, the hospital is built on the site of a textile mill which made military uniforms during the American Civil War, which the Bates Mill and other Lewiston textile factories actually did. King attended elementary school in the nearby town of Durham, Mainemarker and high school in the neighboring town of Lisbon Falls, Mainemarker
  • Twins Francis Edgar Stanley and Freelan O. Stanley invented the photographic dry plate process, that they used in their studio on Lisbon Street in the late 19th century. They later sold the patent to a company that became Eastman Kodak. They eventually went on to invent the Stanley Steamer.


Places of interest

  • Railroad Park, a large park in downtown Lewiston. Also one of the launching points of the largest balloon festival in New England, the Great Falls Balloon Festival.
  • Grand Trunk Rail Stationmarker, a historical look at the railroad running through downtown Lewiston.
  • Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary, just off of Highland Spring Road, it is the largest bird sanctuary in New England.
  • The Public Theatre, a nationally recognized theatre for their artistic excellence, The Public Theatre is a professional Equity theatre located in the heart of downtown Lewiston.
  • The Lewiston Skate Park, on Park Street. It includes a nine foot pool coaping-bowl, snake-run, pole-jam, stair-set, hand-rail, and ledges. The entire park is surfaced with concrete. It is one of the largest skate parks north of Boston.
  • Mount David, often referred to as "Mount Davis" or "Davis Mountain" due to its being named after a man named David Davis. A small, 389-foot mountain with several trails, located on the campus of Bates College.
  • Lewiston Falls on the Androscoggin River separates downtown Lewiston and Auburn. The falls, also known as the "Great Falls", were once a fishing destination for Native Americans. The river has since become polluted and is no longer a popular fishing place.
  • Museum L-A: The Story of Work and Community in Lewiston-Auburn. Documents and celebrates the economic, social and technological legacy of Lewiston-Auburn and its people. It is located in the Bates Mill Complex at the corner of Canal and Chestnut streets.


National Historic Sites in Lewiston

Empire Theatre in 1907
Hospital Square in c.
1910
Kennedy Park in c.
1915
Bates Mills and canal in c.
1915


References

  1. Elder, Janus G. A History of Lewiston, Maine with a Genealogical Register of Early Families page 52.
  2. The New Yankees, Mother Jones, March/April 2004
  3. The Great Somali Welfare Hunt
  4. Finnegan, William, "Letter from Maine: New in Town, the Somalis of Lewiston." The New Yorker, December 11th, 2006
  5. Employment Patterns of Somali Immigrants
  6. Cofie D. Malbouisson, Focus on Islamic Issues, (Nova Science Publishers: 2006), p.8
  7. SunJournal.com - Another side of Brent Matthews


Further reading

  • History of Lewiston, Maine
  • History of Lewiston, Maine (municipal site)
  • Elder, Janus G., "A History of Lewiston, Maine with a Genealogical Register of Early Families." Heritage Books, Inc., 1989
  • Hodgkin, Douglas I., "Lewiston Memories: A Bicentennial Pictorial." Jostens Printing & Publishing, 1994
  • Finnegan, William, "Letter from Maine: New in Town, the Somalis of Lewiston." The New Yorker, December 11, 2006
  • Hodgkin, Douglas I., Frontier to Industrial City:Lewiston Town Politics 1768–1863. Just Write Books, Topsham, ME, 2008


External links



Somali immigration related


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