Take exit 150 and you’re there

MA to ME map1It turns out that the directions from Cambridge, MA to Cambridge, Maine are almost as straightforward as they were to Cambridge, NY.  It’s basically U.S. Route 95 all the way north to exit 150 for Maine State Route 152, which (with a few quick turns) takes you straight into town.  I’m still going to give the edge for ease to Cambridge, NY because of the abundance of rest stops on the Massachusetts Turnpike, but there was little opportunity to go off track on the way to Cambridge, ME.  It’s the farthest north I’ve gone into the center of the state, though I may have been further north on the coast.

My schedule was, to say the least, not over-booked for this trip.  I almost accepted that I wouldn’t have any appointments until I tried a new potential contact and succeeded in connecting.  So I left early Friday morning, aiming to be in the Town Office by 11:30.  More about my meeting with the town selectmen later this week.

Harmony CambridgeBeyond that, I wasn’t sure what I’d find, but my focus was on the General Store and the Post Office, which are the only two entities of consequence in the town.  I had good conversations all around.  Everyone was very friendly and generous with their time.  Plus, I have a special fondness for the Maine accent, which is increasingly difficult to find in the southern part of the state.  (There’s more detail here than you might want.  While the old (also increasingly rare) Boston accent similarly involves dropping final R’s, the two accents do not sound the same.)

Much to my own surprise, I learned a lot on this trip.  That is, I assumed I’d learn something (or why would I even do this?), but I left with a whole new framework for how to think about small towns.  I’m going to pull together my notes and share this week and next, even while I haven’t finished reporting on Cambridge, NY and I’ve written almost nothing about my own Cambridge, MA.

Cuing up the second trip

I have a chance to make a very quick trip up to Cambridge, Maine tomorrow, so that’s what I’m going to do.  Compared with Cambridge, NY, Cambridge, ME is a small place indeed.  With a population of only 462, it ranks among the lowest population of the Cambridges.  Here are some numbers for you.  (Thanks, again, to Wikipedia.)  I don’t have much of an itinerary this time, but with one trip behind me, I trust that I’ll figure it out.

Massachusetts New York Maine
City/town City Village Town
Zip code(s) 02138 to 02142 12816 04923
Year Founded 1630 1866 1834
2010 Census 105,162 1870 462
Area (square miles) 7.1 1.7 19.32
Population Density/square mile 16,355 1151 24
Median Age 31 40 48.3
Population breakdown (percent)
      Under 18 13.3 25.7 17.5
      18 to 24 21.2 7.1 5.4
      25 to 44 38.6 24.5 21.6
      45 to 64 17.8 23.0 37.8
      65 or older 9.2 19.8 17.5
Percent White 67 98 (2000) 97.4
Median Income $47,979 $31,164 $28,516
Elevation (feet) 40 496 338
Miles to an ocean (approximately, as bird flies) 3 124 45
Distance to Cambridge, MA (Shortest driving distance, in miles) 0 160 224