Taking in Lewiston: A Multidimensional Cityscape

Published on 26 April 2024 at 16:48

Real Talk for the Urban Tourist

As the second largest city in Maine, Lewiston offers atypical city life. I came from a typical large city with skyscrapers, rush hour traffic for miles, a staggering crime rate, and not many natural features in the urban landscape. In Lewiston, visitors get a unique urban tourism experience.

You won’t find a single skyscraper in this city.  In fact, the Agora Grand Event Center (next to the inn) is the tallest structure. If you have travelled in the second largest city in nearly any other state, Lewiston "rush hour" traffic is laughable. I was impressed but unsurprised to learn that in 2017 and 2020, Forbes magazine ranked Lewiston as one of the best places in the country to retire. Among the reasons cited, Lewiston is one of the safest cities based on per capita crime rates.  The green spaces, the Androscoggin River, Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary, and hiking trails are all interwoven in the cityscape. All these factors taken together make it feel more like a small town than a city.  Lewiston isn’t the “quintessential New England” coastal town. We are an urban college town characterized by remnants of industry with a dash of nature, which allows for activities to be varied and interesting. In a day, our guests might go for a hike a mile away and then spend a night exploring craft breweries, just a short walk from the inn.


It's apparent watching interactions that people know each other here. It’s small enough that you are often on a first name basis with people in the neighborhood, but large enough to have a diverse population. We speak different languages, we worship in different ways, we are of different ethnicities and races, and we are all part of the Lewiston experience. This mix is the reason for the variety of restaurants, festivals/celebrations, arts, educational opportunities, and cultural events in the city. When you stay with us at the inn, you are invited to explore the many facets of Lewiston, whether that means visiting colleges, taking in a show at the Public Theater, walking along the river, eating at a restaurant in the repurposed Bates Mill complex, or shopping on Lisbon St.


There are plenty of ways to talk up the town because there is much to be enjoyed. Sometimes, though, the positives are overshadowed by tough challenges this city faces. Travellers are sometimes surprised to see the socioeconomic chasm so front and center in a place touted as one of the best cities to retire. On one hand, we have upscale dining, elite colleges, suburbs, and penthouse apartments. On the other hand, we have generational poverty, homeless encampments, and people with (often undiagnosed) mental health and addiction issues. In the heart of downtown, an observer might see both sides of that coin.  It's difficult when the most vulnerable people, the very small percentage of Lewiston's population, are the people who feel invisible yet make the first impression of the city to visitors. Lewiston is one of the safest cities in the nation, but when newcomers see unsheltered people, they might feel unsettled or not know what to think. It's a challenge for everyone - not just the folks at risk, but the people wishing to operate businesses and attract customers.  Still, we co-create our realities, and the capacity of the city to co-create positive progress has been demonstrated time and again. I believe there is a path to success for Lewiston and it's nice to be able to raise concerns and have discussions with local officials. The real work begins after the talking, and it will be exciting to continue progress in that direction.


Lewiston has positive qualities that are hard to quantify. People here have tough skin and big hearts. The city's greatness is in recognizing and rising to challenges, and in offering an example of adaptation, resilience, and renewal. Lewiston is forward-thinking, and with the recent acquisition of a site for a transitional housing development, the future is brighter for many. Change may happen at a glacial pace, but Lewiston is perseverance. As a local business, we want our guests to know that they are in a safe place and that there is much more to the city than apparent challenges. This is a place where you can have a friendly chat with a neighbor, a great cup of coffee at a cafe, a delicious dinner out, take in a play, walk to a gallery, go to a concert or festival, and all the little things that breathe life into Lewiston.


Taken together, these factors elucidate the complexities of our city. It has depth of character and history. We are a hopeful city in transition. Working in Lewiston can feel like doing something uplifting and good, like being an agent of change. Playing in Lewiston is fun because we have such a variety of recreation and arts. Learning in the city is inspiring because there is such a rich history and bright future. We've got it all; there's something for everyone.


The Inn at the Agora sits just outside Lewiston's epicenter and provides private, secure, comfortable accommodations and amenities so our guests feel at home while away. We have a wraparound porch where guests can take in the local scene as well as a fenced courtyard behind the inn exclusively for guests that provides a private outdoor space with comfortable seating to unwind. Here, you can be as far or close to the action as you desire.  Get to know us at the inn and familiarize yourself with our city. We always know what's going on around town and we give our guests recommendations. We go above and beyond to think of all the little “extras” for our guests to make their stay special and cozy. What are you waiting for? Be our guest and book your stay today!

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