Lewiston, at 35,000 the second largest city in the state, lies across the Androscoggin River from its twin city, Auburn. Once a large textile center, Lewiston and Auburn are currently reinventing themselves as a manufacturing and service center with high-tech businesses, but the transition is far from complete. This is an oft-repeated story in Maine, and some towns are doing better than others: Portland south and Waterville 50 miles north are doing much better, while Augusta, the state capital 25 miles north, remains surprisingly depressed.
The area does have two small colleges and a large medical center, adding some employment and interest to the area, but educational attainment is notably low for New England. The two cities have a small-town feel with a strong French presence, which remains from the 19th century when French Canadians migrated into the area for factory work. An ambitious new downtown revitalization effort was kicked off in Lewiston in 2004. As is also true for most of Maine, there is an abundance of outdoor recreation nearby, and a closely-knit laid back community feel contrasting with the bustle farther south and especially at the Massachusetts border.
The area is located in the Androscoggin River Valley in an area of forested hills and lakes. It is far enough inland to feel the effects of the variable northeastern continental climate, but close enough to the Atlantic to experience some moderation. Summers are warm and pleasant with cool evenings. Winters are cold with frequent thaws, while springs are wet and variable. Autumn is the most pleasant season. Temperatures well below zero are recorded frequently each winter, and strong winter winds are common. The White Mountains block some snow and cold from the northwest, but snow is common, often arriving with Atlantic Coast “noreaster” storms. First freeze is early October, last is early May.