Lowell, Massachusetts

Lowell is a city in the U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Located in Middlesex County, Lowell (along with Cambridge) was a county seat until Massachusetts disbanded county government in 1999.[3] With an estimated population of 109,945 in 2014,[4] it is the fourth-largest city in Massachusetts, and the second-largest in the Boston metropolitan statistical area.[5] The city is also part of a smaller Massachusetts statistical area called Greater Lowell, as well as New England's Merrimack Valley region.

Incorporated in 1826 to serve as a mill town, Lowell was named after Francis Cabot Lowell, a local figure in the Industrial Revolution. The city became known as the cradle of the American Industrial Revolution, due to a large series of textile mills and factories. Many of the Lowell's historic manufacturing sites were later preserved by the National Park Service to create Lowell National Historical Park.[6] During the Cambodian genocide, the city took in an influx of refugees, leading to a Cambodia Town and America's second-largest Cambodian-American population.[7]

Lowell is home to two institutions of higher education.

Lowell, Massachusetts
City of Lowell
Lowell City Hall; Lowell, MA; southwest side; 2011-08-20
Mill Building (now museum), Lowell, Massachusetts
Coburn Hall
Lowell skyline
Left-right from top: Lowell City Hall, Lowell Mills, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell Skyline
Official seal of Lowell, Massachusetts

Seal
Nickname(s): 
Mill City, Spindle City, City of Lights
Motto(s): 
"Art is the Handmaid of Human Good."[1]
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Lowell is located in Massachusetts
Lowell
Lowell
Location in the United States
Lowell is located in the United States
Lowell
Lowell
Lowell (the United States)
Coordinates: 42°38′22″N 71°18′53″W / 42.63944°N 71.31472°WCoordinates: 42°38′22″N 71°18′53″W / 42.63944°N 71.31472°W
Country United States
State Massachusetts
CountyMiddlesex
RegionNew England
Settled1653
Incorporated1826
A city1836
Government
 • TypeManager-City council
 • MayorWilliam Samaras
 • City ManagerEileen Donoghue
Area
 • Total14.5 sq mi (37.7 km2)
 • Land13.8 sq mi (35.7 km2)
 • Water0.8 sq mi (2.0 km2)
Elevation
102 ft (31 m)
Population
 • Total106,519
 • Estimate 
(2016)[2]
111,472
 • Density7,300/sq mi (2,800/km2)
 • Demonym
Lowellian
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
01850, 01851, 01852, 01853, 01854
Area code(s)978 / 351
FIPS code25-37000
GNIS feature ID0611832
WebsiteCity of Lowell, Massachusetts

History

Merrimack and Concord
The Massachusetts Mill at the confluence of the Merrimack and Concord Rivers; across the Cox Bridge are the Boott Mills; in the upper left is the historic Lowell Sun building with its iconic sign on top.

Founded in the 1820s as a planned manufacturing center for textiles, Lowell is located along the rapids of the Merrimack River, 25 miles northwest of Boston in what was once the farming community of East Chelmsford, Massachusetts. The so-called Boston Associates, including Nathan Appleton and Patrick Tracy Jackson of the Boston Manufacturing Company, named the new mill town after their visionary leader, Francis Cabot Lowell,[8] who had died five years before its 1823 incorporation. As Lowell's population grew, it acquired land from neighboring towns, and diversified into a full-fledged urban center. Many of the men who composed the labor force for constructing the canals and factories had immigrated from Ireland, escaping the poverty and Potato Famines of the 1830s and 1840s. The mill workers, young single women called Mill Girls, generally came from the farm families of New England.

Saint Anne's Episcopal Church; Lowell, MA; south (front) side; 2011-08-20
Saint Anne's Episcopal Church, built 1824

By the 1850s, Lowell had the largest industrial complex in the United States. The textile industry wove cotton produced in the South. In 1860, there were more cotton spindles in Lowell than in all eleven states combined that would form the Confederacy.[9] Yet the city did not simply finish raw materials produced in the American South, but rather became involved in the South in another way, too. Many of the coarse cottons produced in Lowell eventually returned to the South to clothe enslaved people, and, according to historian Sven Beckert, "'Lowell' became the generic term slaves used to describe coarse cottons."[10] The city continued to thrive as a major industrial center during the 19th century, attracting more migrant workers and immigrants to its mills. Next were the Catholic Germans, followed by a large influx of French Canadians during the 1870s and 1880s. Later waves of immigrants included Portuguese, Polish, Lithuanians, Swedes, Greeks, and eastern European Jews. They came to work in Lowell and settled in ethnic neighborhoods, with the city's population reaching almost 50% foreign-born by 1900.[11] By the time World War I broke out in Europe, the city had reached its economic and population peak of over 110,000 people.

The Mill Cities' manufacturing base declined as companies began to relocate to the South in the 1920s.[11] The city fell into hard times, and was even referred to as a "depressed industrial desert" by Harper's Magazine in 1931, as the Great Depression worsened. At this time, more than one-third of its population was "on relief", as only three of its major textile corporations remained active.[11] Several years later, the mills were reactivated, making parachutes and other military necessities for the World War II effort. However, this economic boost was short-lived and the post-war years saw the last textile plants close.

Abandoned mill in Lowell
Mills sat abandoned after industry left the city in the early twentieth century.

Zoning, development and the Massachusetts Miracle

In the 1970s, Lowell became part of the Massachusetts Miracle, being the headquarters of Wang Laboratories. At the same time, Lowell became home to thousands of new immigrants, many from Cambodia, following the genocide at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. The city continued to rebound, but this time, focusing more on culture. The former mill district along the river was partially restored and became part of the Lowell National Historical Park, founded in the late 1970s.

Lowell Park HQ
Former mill agent's house

Although Wang went bankrupt in 1992, the city continued its cultural focus by hosting the nation's largest free folk festival, the Lowell Folk Festival, as well as many other cultural events. This effort began to attract other companies and families back to the urban center. Additional historic manufacturing and commercial buildings were adapted as residential units and office space. By the 1990s, Lowell had built a new ballpark and arena, which became home to two minor league sports teams, the Lowell Devils and Lowell Spinners. The city also began to have a larger student population. The University of Massachusetts Lowell and Middlesex Community College expanded their programs and enrollment. During the period of time when Lowell was part of the Massachusetts Miracle, the Lowell City Development Authority created a Comprehensive Master Plan which included recommendations for zoning adaptations within the city. The city's original zoning code was adopted in 1926 and was significantly revised in 1966 and 2004, with changes included to respond to concerns about overdevelopment.[12]

In 2002, in lieu of updating the Comprehensive Master Plan, more broad changes were recommended so that the land use and development would be consistent with the current master plan. The most significant revision to the 1966 zoning code is the adoption of an inclusion of a transect-based zoning code and some aspects of a form-based code style of zoning that emphasizes urban design elements as a means to ensure that infill development will respect the character of the neighborhood or district in question. By 2004, the recommended zoning changes were unanimously adopted by the City Council and despite numerous changes to the 2004 Zoning Code, it remains the basic framework for resolving zoning issues in Lowell to this day.[13]

Pawtucket Canal at Central St looking west, Lowell MA
Pawtucket Canal

The Hamilton Canal District (HCD) is the first district in Lowell in which regulation and development is defined by Form-Based Code (HCD-FBC) and legislated by its own guiding framework consistent to the HCD Master Plan.[14] The HCD is a major redevelopment project that comprises 13-acres of vacant, underutilized land in downtown Lowell abutting former industrial mills. Trinity Financial was elected as the Master Developer to recreate this district with a vision of making a mixed-use neighborhood. Development plans included establishing the HCD as a gateway to downtown Lowell and enhanced connectivity to Gallagher Terminal.[15][16]

Geography

Lowell From the Air
Aerial view of LeLacheur Park and the UMass-Lowell campus
1876 map Lowell Massachusetts by Bailey BPL 10185
Lowell in 1876

Lowell is located at 42°38′22″N 71°18′53″W / 42.63944°N 71.31472°W (42.639444, -71.314722).[17] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.5 square miles (38 km2).13.8 square miles (35.7 km²) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) of it (5.23%) is water.

Physical

1975 map of canal system in Lowell, Massachusetts
Central Lowell's canal system (1975) The city limits extend in all directions from this central core.

Lowell is located at the confluence of the Merrimack and Concord rivers. The Pawtucket Falls, a mile-long set of rapids with a total drop in elevation of 32 feet, ends where the two rivers meet. At the top of the falls is the Pawtucket Dam, designed to turn the upper Merrimack into a millpond, diverted through Lowell's extensive canal system.

The Merrimack, which flows southerly from Franklin, New Hampshire to Lowell, makes a northeasterly turn there before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at Newburyport, Massachusetts, approximately 40 miles downriver from Lowell. It is believed that in prior ages, the Merrimack continued south from Lowell to empty into the ocean somewhere near Boston. The glacial deposits that redirected the flow of the river left the drumlins that dot the city, most notably, Fort Hill in the Belvidere neighborhood. Other large hills in Lowell include Lynde Hill, also in Belvidere, and Christian Hill, in the easternmost part of Centralville at the Dracut town line.

The Concord, or Musketaquid (its original name), forms from the confluence of the Assabet and Sudbury rivers at Concord, Massachusetts. This river flows north into the city, and the area around the confluence with the Merrimack was known as Wamesit. Like the Merrimack, the Concord, although a much smaller river, has many waterfalls and rapids that served as power sources for early industrial purposes, some well before the founding of Lowell. Immediately after the Concord joins the Merrimack, the Merrimack descends another ten feet in Hunt's Falls.

There is a ninety-degree bend in the Merrimack partway down the Pawtucket Falls. At this point, the river briefly widens and shallows. Here, Beaver Brook enters from the north, separating the City's two northern neighborhoods, Pawtucketville and Centralville. Entering the Concord River from the southwest is River Meadow, or Hale's Brook. This brook flows largely in a man-made channel, as the Lowell Connector was built along it. Both of these minor streams have limited industrial histories as well.

The bordering towns (clockwise from north) are Dracut, Tewksbury, Billerica, Chelmsford, and Tyngsborough. The border with Billerica is a point in the middle of the Concord River where Lowell and Billerica meet Tewksbury and Chelmsford.

The ten communities designated part of the Lowell Metropolitan area by the 2000 US Census are Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Groton, Lowell, Pepperell, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, and Westford, and Pelham, NH. See Greater Lowell.

Neighborhoods

North Common Village, with Saint Jean-Baptiste Church in background; Lowell, MA; 2011-09-03
The Acre neighborhood

Lowell has eight distinct neighborhoods: the Acre, Back Central, Belvidere, Centralville, Downtown, Highlands, Pawtucketville, and South Lowell.[18] The city also has five ZIP codes: four are geographically distinct general ZIP codes, and one (01853) is for post-office boxes only.

The Centralville neighborhood, ZIP Code 01850, is the northeastern section of the city, north of the Merrimack River and east of Beaver Brook. Christian Hill is the section of Centralville east of Bridge Street.

The Highlands, ZIP Code 01851, is the most populated neighborhood, with almost a quarter of the city residing here. It is located in the southwestern section of the city, bordered to the east by the Lowell Connector and to the north by the railroad. Lowellians further distinguish the sections of the Highlands as the Upper Highlands and the Lower Highlands, the latter being the area closer to downtown. Middlesex Village, Tyler Park, and Drum Hill are in this ZIP Code. The Upper Highlands also includes the University of Massachusetts Lowell, South Campus (Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Health Sciences & Education).

Downtown, Belvidere, Back Central, and South Lowell make up the 01852 ZIP Code, and are the southeastern sections of the city (south of the Merrimack River and southeast of the Lowell Connector). Belvidere is the mostly residential area south of the Merrimack River, east of the Concord River, and north of the Lowell and Lawrence railroad. Belvidere Hill is a Historic District along Fairmount Street. Lower Belvidere is the section west of Nesmith Street. Back Central is an urban area south of downtown, toward the mouth of River Meadow Brook. South Lowell is the area south of the railroad and east of the Concord River. Other neighborhoods in this ZIP Code are Ayers City, Bleachery, Chapel Hill, the Grove, Oaklands, Riverside Park, Swede Village, and Wigginville. Although the use of the names of these smaller neighborhoods has been in decline in the past decades, there has been recently a reemergence of their use. Downtown Lowell includes the UMass Lowell East Campus which consists of university housing, recreation facilities, research and the university’s sports arena, as well as the Middlesex Community College.

Pawtucketville, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, North Campus; and the Acre make up the 01854 ZIP Code. The Northwestern portion of the city includes the neighborhood where Jack Kerouac resided around the area of University Avenue (previously known as Moody Street). The North Campus of UMass Lowell (Colleges of Engineering, Sciences and Business) is in Pawtucketville near the Lowell General Hospital. The older parts of the neighborhood are around University Avenue and Mammoth Road, whereas the newer parts are around Varnum Avenue. Middle and elementary schools for this area include Wang Middle School, Pawtucketville Memorial, McAvinnue Elementary School, and private school Ste Jeanne d'Arc. Pawtucketville is the official entrance to the Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsborough State Forest, the site of an historic Native American tribe, and in the age of the Industrial Revolution was a prominent source of granite used in canals and factory foundations.[19]

Demographics

Historical population
YearPop.±%
18306,474—    
184020,796+221.2%
185033,383+60.5%
186036,827+10.3%
187040,928+11.1%
188059,475+45.3%
189077,696+30.6%
190094,969+22.2%
1910106,294+11.9%
1920112,759+6.1%
1930100,234−11.1%
1940101,389+1.2%
195097,249−4.1%
196092,107−5.3%
197094,239+2.3%
198092,418−1.9%
1990103,439+11.9%
2000105,167+1.7%
2010106,519+1.3%
2017111,346+4.5%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30]
Source:
U.S. Decennial Census[31]

Population Density: According to the 2010 Census,[32] there were 106,519 people residing in the city. The population density was 7,842.1 people per square mile (2,948.8/km²). There were 41,431 housing units at an average density of 2,865.5 per square mile (1,106.7/km²).

Household Size: 2010, there were 38,470 households, and 23,707 families living in Lowell; the average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.31. Of those households, 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.9% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 38.4% were non-families, 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.[32]

Age Distributions: Lowell has also experienced a significant increase in the number of residents between the ages of 50-69 while the percentages of residents under the age of 15 and over the age of 70 decreased.[33] In 2010 the city's population had a median age of 32.6.[34] The age distribution was 23.7% of the population under the age of 18, 13.5% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females, there were 98.6 males; while for every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.6 males.[34]

Median Income: for a household in the city was $51,714, according to the American Community Survey 5-year estimate ending in 2012.[35] The median income for a family was $55,852. Males had a median income of $44,739 versus $35,472 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,730. About 15.2% of families and 17.5% of individuals were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 13.2% of those age 65 or over.[36]

Racial Makeup: In 2010, the ethnic diversity of the city was 60.3% White (49.3% Non-Hispanic White[37]), 20.2% Asian American (12.5% Cambodian, 2.0% Indian, 1.7% Vietnamese, 1.4% Laotian), 6.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 8.8% from other races, 3.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.3% of the population. The largest Hispanic group was those of Puerto Rican ancestry, comprising 11.3% of the population.

African Immigrants: In 2010 there were about 6,000 people of recent African heritage living in Lowell making up nearly the entire African American population of the city.[38] These immigrants come from a wide range of countries including Liberia, Kenya, Ghana and Togo.

Cambodian-American Population: In 2010, Lowell had the highest proportion of residents of Cambodian origin of any place in the United States, at 12.5% of the population. The Government of Cambodia had opened up its third U.S. Consular Office in Lowell, on April 27, 2009, with Sovann Ou as current advisor to the Cambodian Embassy.[39] The other consular offices are in Long Beach, California, and Seattle, Washington, which also have large Cambodian communities.

Crime

Lower Highlands precinct police station; south and east sides; Lowell, MA; 2011-12-08
Police station in the city's Highlands neighborhood

The City of Lowell is primarily policed and protected by the Lowell Police Department, the University Police: UMass Lowell, and the National Park Service Police. The Massachusetts State Police and Middlesex County Sheriff's Office also work with local law enforcement to set up driver checkpoints for alcohol awareness. With the growth of UMass Lowell and the impact of its faculty and students in areas of scientific research, engineering, and nursing, the city has seen rapid gentrification of several neighborhoods.

Statistics

According to current FBI Crime Data Analysis, Lowell is the 4th safest city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for all sizes,[40] the violent crime rate for Lowell was less than half of the violent crime rate in Boston, with no murders compared to 49 in Boston. Lowell's crime rate has dropped tremendously since the 1990s, and while the likelihood of becoming a victim of violent crime in Massachusetts are 1 in 265, the odds in Lowell are 1 in 289, making Lowell (approximately) 10% safer than the rest of the state, on average.[41] Lowell's violent crime rate is comparable to Honolulu, HI and is less than one-quarter that of Washington, D.C.[42]

In 2017, you were more likely to be a crime victim in Cambridge, MA than in Lowell (due to the high incidence of property crimes in Cambridge).[43][44]

History of anti-crime efforts

The Lowell Police Department has made positive progress in bringing the crime rates down in recent years. In the 1990s, Lowell had been locally notorious for being a place of high drug trafficking and gang activity, and was the setting for a real life documentary, High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell. In the years from 1994 to 1999, crime dropped 50 percent, the highest rate of decrease for any city in America with over 100,000 residents.[45]

Within one generation, by 2009, Lowell was ranked as the 139th most dangerous city of over 75,000 residents in the United States, out of 393 communities. Out of Massachusetts cities, nine are larger than 75,000 residents, and Lowell was fifth.[46] For comparison Lowell was still rated safer than Boston (104 of 393), Providence RI (123), Springfield (51), Lynn (120), Fall River (103), and New Bedford (85), but rated more dangerous than Cambridge (303), Newton (388), Quincy (312), and Worcester (175).[46]

Education

Colleges and universities

With a rapidly growing student population, Lowell has been considered an emerging college town.[47] With approximately 12,000 students at Middlesex Community College (MCC) and 18,500 students at University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell is currently home to more than 30,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students, and the location of some of the top research laboratories in Massachusetts. UMass Lowell is the second largest state university and fifth largest university in Massachusetts, while MCC is the second largest Associate's college in Massachusetts.[48]

Recreation Center, north
Recreation Center at UMass Lowell

Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

Lowell Public Schools operates district public schools. Lowell High School is the district public school. Non-district public schools include Greater Lowell Technical High School, Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School,[49] Lowell Community Charter Public School,[50][51] and Lowell Collegiate Charter School.[52]

Lowell Public Schools is an above average, public school district located in Lowell, MA. It has 14,247 students in grades PK, K-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 14 to 1.[53]

Lowell High School students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement® course work and exams. The AP® participation rate at Lowell High is 29 percent. The student body makeup is 50 percent male and 50 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 68 percent with a student-teacher ratio of 14 to 1.[54]

Private schools

Libraries

Pollard Memorial Library; Lowell, MA; south (front) side; 2011-08-20
Pollard Memorial Library in August 2011

Municipal

Pollard Memorial Library / Lowell City Library

The first Lowell public library was established in 1844 with 3,500 volumes, and was set up in the first floor of the Old City Hall, 226 Merrimack St. In 1872, the expanding collection was relocated down the street to the Hosford Building[58] at 134 Merrimack St. In 1890-91, the City of Lowell hired local Architect Frederick W. Stickney to design the new Lowell City Library, known as "Memorial Hall, in honor of the city's men who lost their lives in the American Civil War.[59][60] In 1981, the library was renamed the Pollard Memorial Library in memory of the late Mayor Samuel S. Pollard. And, in the mid-2000s the century old National Historic building underwent a major $8.5m renovation.[61] The city also expanded the library system to include the Senior Center Branch, located in the City of Lowell Senior Center.[62]

In fiscal year 2008, the city of Lowell spent 0.36% ($975,845) of its budget on its public libraries, which houses 236,000 volumes, and is a part of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium. Currently, circulation of materials averages around 250,000 annually, with approximately one-third deriving from the children's collection.[59][63] In fiscal year 2009, Lowell spent 0.35% ($885,377) of its budget on the library—some $8 per person.[64]

As of 2012, the Pollard Library purchases access for its patrons to databases owned by: EBSCO Industries; Gale, of Cengage Learning; Heritage Archives, Inc.; New England Historic Genealogical Society; OverDrive, Inc.; ProQuest; and World Trade Press.[65]

University

Lydon Library

The Lydon Library is a part of the University of Massachusetts Lowell system, and is located on the North Campus. The building is named in honor of President Martin J. Lydon, whose vision expanded and renamed the college during his tenure in the 1950s and 1960s.[66] Its current collection concentrates on the sciences, engineering, business management, social sciences, humanities, and health.[67]

O'Leary Library

The O'Leary Library is a part of the University of Massachusetts Lowell system, and is located on the South Campus. The building is named in honor of former History Professor and then President O'Leary, whose vision helped merge the Lowell colleges during his tenure in the 1970s and 1980s.[68] Its current collection concentrates on music and art.[69]

Center for Lowell History

The Center for Lowell History [special collections and archives] is a part of the University of Massachusetts Lowell system, established in 1971 to assure the safekeeping, preservation, and availability for study and research of materials in unique subject areas, particularly those related to the Greater Lowell Area and the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Located downtown in the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center at 40 French Street, the Center is committed to the design and implementation of historical, educational, and cultural programs that link the university and the community in developing an economically strong and multi-culturally rich region. Its current collections and archives focus on historic and contemporary issues of Lowell (including: industrialization, textile technology, immigration, social history, regional history, labor history, women's history, and environmental history).[70]

Infrastructure

Transportation

LRTA bus along Stevens Street at Light Avenue; Lowell, MA; 2011-12-08
A bus of the Lowell Regional Transit Authority

Lowell can be reached by automobile from Interstate 495, U.S. Route 3, the Lowell Connector, and Massachusetts Routes: 3A, 38, 110, 113, and 133, all of which run through the city; Route 133 begins at the spot where Routes 110 and 38 branch off just south of the Merrimack River.[71] There are six bridges crossing the Merrimack River in Lowell, and four crossing the Concord River (not including the two for I-495).

For public transit, Lowell is served by the Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA), which provides fixed route bus services and paratransit services to the city and surrounding area. Peter Pan Bus Lines provides intercity bus service, with one round trip per day on its Concord, New Hampshire - Foxwoods Casino line, with connections in Worcester to other routes. Other service includes Merrimack Vallery Regional Transfer Authority (MVRTA) Route 41 to Lawrence, and the Sunshine Travel bus to Mohegan Sun.

Lowell is also served by the MBTA's commuter rail Lowell Line, with several departures daily to and from Boston's North Station.

The Lowell National Historical Park provides a free streetcar shuttle between its various sites in the city center, using track formerly used to provide freight access to the city's mills. An expansion is currently being planned to expand the system to 6.9 miles. The system might be turned over to the Lowell Regional Transit Authority after the extension is built.

In addition to several car rental agencies, Lowell has four (4) Zipcar rental locations convenient to Gallagher Terminal, the Downtown, and the three (3) University campuses (North, South and East).

Hospitals

Arts and culture

Front of boott mill
The Boott Cotton Mill Museum and Trolley

Monthly Calendar of Events and Entertainment

Annual events

  • February: Winterfest - celebration of winter. (Also, Lowell's Birthday)
  • March: Lowell Women's Week[72] - A week of events recognizing women's achievements, struggles, and contributions to the Lowell community past and present. Irish Cultural Week - A celebration of Irish history and hulture within the Greater Lowell community.
  • April: Lowell Film Festival[73]- Showcases documentary and feature-length films focusing on a variety of topics of interest to the Greater Lowell community and beyond
  • May: Doors Open Lowell[74] - A celebration of preservation, architecture, and design where many historic buildings that normally have limited public access are open for viewing
  • June: African Festival[75] - A celebration of the various African communities in and around Lowell
  • July: Lowell Folk Festival - A three-day free folk music and traditional arts festival attended by on average 250,000 people on the last weekend in July
  • August: Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival[76] - celebrates Southeast Asian culture
  • September: Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race[77] - From the crossroads of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics comes a spectacular racing spectacle!
  • October: Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival[78] - A celebration of the works of Jack Kerouac and his roots in the city of Lowell
  • October: Bay State Marathon and half marathon
Lowell boat tour
The National Park Boat Tour

Points of interest

Among the many tourist attractions, Lowell also currently has 39 places on the National Register of Historic Places including many buildings and structures as part of the Lowell National Historical Park.

"A Mother's Hands" - Monument Dedicated to the Armenian Genocide
"A Mother's Hands" Armenian Genocide memorial outside of Lowell City Hall.

Culture

In the early years of the 1840s when the population quickly exceeded 20,000, Lowell became very active as a cultural center, with the construction of the Lowell Museum, the Mechanics Hall, as well as the new City Hall used for art exhibits, lectures, and for the performing arts. The Lowell Museum was lost in a devastating fire in the early morning of January 31, 1856,[81] but was quickly rehoused in a new location. The Lowell Art Association was founded in 1876, and the new Opera House was built in 1889.[82] Continuing to inspire and entertain, Lowell currently has a plethora of artistic exhibitions and performances throughout a wide range of venues in the city:

Museums and public galleries

Interactive and live performances

  • Angkor Dance Troupe[95] - Cambodian classical and folk dance company and youth program[96]
  • Arts League of Lowell[97]
  • Center for Lowell History, University of Massachusetts Lowell[98] - local history library and archive
  • The Gentlemen Songsters[99] The Lowell Chapter of The Barbershop Harmony Society -Causing Harmony In The Merrimack Valley.
  • The Hi Hat - acoustic performance stage located at Mill No. 5.
  • The Luna Theater - Independent film theater opened in 2014 and located inside Mill No. 5.
  • Lowell Memorial Auditorium - Mid-sized venue for live performances.
  • Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra[100] - Community orchestra presenting free concerts and offering youth programs
  • Lowell Poetry Network[101] - A network of area poets and appreciators of poetry who host readings, receptions, and open mics.
  • Lowell Rocks[102] - Lowell nightlife and entertainment web site promoting performances at local bars and clubs
  • Lowell Summer Music Series[103] - Boarding House Park
  • Merrimack Repertory Theater - Professional equity theater
  • Play by Player's Theatre Company - critically acclaimed community theater
  • RRRecords - Internationally known record label and store
  • Sampas Pavilion - Outdoor amphitheater on the banks of the Merrimack River
  • Standing Room Only Players - musical review troupe
  • UMass Lowell Department of Music Performances[104]
  • The United Teen Equality Center[105] A by teens, for teens youth center promoting peace, positivity and empowerment for young people in Lowell.
  • UnchARTed[106] - Gallery, studios, cafe, bar, and performance space in downtown Lowell

Sports, Teams and Athletic Venues

Ramahlos West End Gym at former Hockmeyer family Waterhead Mill; north and west sides; Lowell, MA; 2011-09-11
Ramalho's West End Gym trains the city's boxers.

Boxing

Boxing has formed an important part of Lowell's working-class culture. The city's auditorium hosts the annual New England Golden Gloves tournament, which featured fighters such as Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Marvin Hagler. Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund both began their careers in Lowell, the subject of the 2010 film The Fighter.[107] Arthur Ramahlo's West End Gym is where many of the city's boxers train.[108]

Teams

Tsongas Center
Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell
Lelacheur
LeLacheur Park, home of the Lowell Spinners baseball team

Athletic Venues

Government

Lowell has a Plan-E council-manager government.[116] There are nine city councilors and six school committee members, all elected by plurality-at-large in a non-partisan election. In 1957, Lowell voters repealed a single-transferable-vote system, which had been in place since 1943.[117] Lowell is the last city in Massachusetts to use a fully plurality-at-large system due to its impact in diluting minority voting power, and the City is currently defending against a Federal Voting Rights lawsuit.

The City Council chooses one of its members as mayor, and another as vice-mayor. The role of the mayor is ceremonial, but s/he runs the weekly meetings under the guidance of the City Clerk. In addition, the mayor serves as the City Council's representative on the School Committee.

The administrative head of the city government is the City Manager, who is responsible for all day-to-day operations, functioning within the guidelines of City Council policy, and is hired by and serves indefinitely at the pleasure of at least 5 of 9 City Councilors. As of April 2017, the City Manager is Eileen M. Donghue replacing Kevin J. Murphy.[118][119]

Lowell is represented in the Massachusetts General Court by State Representatives Thomas Golden, Jr. (D- 16th Middlesex), David Nangle (D- 17th Middlesex), Rady Mom (D- 18th Middlesex), and by formerly by State Senator Eileen Donoghue (1st Middlesex) whose seat is presently vacant since she assumed the role of city Manager. Federally, the city is part of Massachusetts's 3rd congressional district and represented by Niki Tsongas (D). The state's senior member of the United States Senate is Elizabeth Warren (D). The state's junior member of the United States Senate is Ed Markey (D).

In July 2012, Lowell youth led a nationally reported campaign to gain voting privileges for 17-year-olds in local elections; it would have been the first municipality to do so.[120][121] The 'Vote 17' campaign was supported by national researchers; its goals were to increase voter turnout, create lifelong civic habits, and increase youth input in local matters.[122] The effort was led by youth at the United Teen Equality Center in downtown Lowell.[105]

Registered Voters and Party Enrollment as of February 15, 2012[123]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic 20,420 40.48%
Republican 4,542 9.00%
Unenrolled 25,110 49.78%
Other 374 0.74%
Total 50,446 100%

Media

The Lowell Sun building; Lowell, MA; south and east sides; 2011-08-20
The Sun is the city's daily newspaper.

Newspaper

The Sun, headquartered in downtown Lowell, is a major daily newspaper serving Greater Lowell and southern New Hampshire. The newspaper had an average daily circulation of about 42,900 copies in 2011.[124] Continuing a trend of concentration of newspaper ownership, The Sun was sold to newspaper conglomerate MediaNews Group in 1997 after 119 years of family ownership.[125]

Radio

  • WCAP AM 980, talk radio
  • WLLH AM 1400 Spanish Tropical
  • WUML FM 91.5, UMass Lowell-owned station
  • WCRB FM 99.5, Classical music, licensed to Lowell

Cable

Lowell Telecommunication Corporation[126] (LTC) - A community media and technology center

Businesses started and/or products invented in Lowell

Current

The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) Biotechnology Lab offers 11,000 square feet of fully equipped, shared lab facilities that can house 50 researchers and also includes plenty of co-working and meeting spaces.[127]

The UMASS Lowell Innovation Hub[128] (iHUB) offer entrepreneurs, startups, technology companies and established manufacturing partners 24-hour access to all the amenities they need to get their businesses up and running, such as:

  • dedicated office space
  • rapid prototype development equipment and services
  • open co-working and collaboration space, and
  • meeting and conferencing space.

Historical

Lowell Banks and Financial Institutions (current)

  • In 1854, The Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank was founded as the first and only bank in the city that would accept a deposit of less than $1.00. It is the 73rd oldest Bank in America and has been in continuous operation since founding.[132][133]
  • In 1885, the Lowell Co-operative Bank was founded. Now Sage Bank, it is one of the oldest still functioning banks in Massachusetts.[134][135]
  • In 1892, Washington Savings Bank made its first home in Lowell, MA and has continuously served the Greater Lowell area and communities.[136][137]
  • In 1989, Enterprise Bank and Trust was founded in Lowell and is the largest financial institution.[138]
  • In 1911, Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union was founded in Lowell and is the 5th largest Credit Union in Massachusetts.[139][140]
  • In 1922, Align Credit Union was founded in Lowell.[141]
  • In 1936, the Lowell Firefighters Credit Union was founded in Lowell.[142]
  • In 1937, the Lowell Municipal Employees FCU was founded in Lowell.[143]
  • In 1958, Mills42 Federal Credit Union was founded in Lowell.[144]

Lowell Banks and Financial Institutions (closed)

  • Lowell Bank and Trust Company (1970-1983; now part of Bank of America)[145]
  • Lowell Institution for Savings (1829-1991; now part of TD Banknorth N.A.)[146]
  • Butler Bank (1901-2010; now part of People's United Bank)[147][148]

Notable people

See List of People from Lowell, Massachusetts

Twin towns and sister cities

City State Year
Saint-Dié-des-Vosges  France 1989
Berdiansk  Ukraine 1997
Bamenda[149][150]  Cameroon 2002
Limerick City  Ireland 2013
Phnom Penh  Cambodia 2015

Honors

  • 2010, Lowell designated as a "Green Community"[151]
  • 1997 and 1998, Lowell was a finalist for the All-American City award.[152]
  • 1999, Lowell received an All-American City award.[152]

See also

References

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Further reading

Primary sources

External links

Butler Ames

Butler Ames (August 22, 1871 – November 6, 1954) was an American politician, engineer, soldier and businessman. He was the son of Adelbert Ames and grandson of Benjamin Franklin Butler, both decorated generals in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Ames attended the public schools and Phillips Exeter Academy, in Exeter, New Hampshire, and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1894. He resigned from the United States Army after appointment as second lieutenant to the Eleventh Regiment, United States Infantry; took a postgraduate course at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a member of Theta Xi fraternity, and graduated in 1896 as a mechanical and electrical engineer.

Ames engaged in manufacturing; served as a member of the common council of Lowell in 1896; like his father, he re-joined the Army during the Spanish–American War and was commissioned lieutenant and adjutant of the Sixth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry; appointed acting engineer officer of the Second Army Corps under General Graham, in addition to his duties as adjutant. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in August 1898; served as civil administrator of the Arecibo district of Puerto Rico until November 1898.

Ames became a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives 1897–1899; elected as a Republican to the Fifty-eighth and to the four succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1903 – March 3, 1913); was not a candidate for renomination in 1912; resumed manufacturing pursuits; president of United States Cartridge Company, and treasurer of Heinze Electrical Co. of Lowell; at time of death was treasurer and a director of Wamesit Power Co. of Lowell, Massachusetts; director of Union Land and Grazing Co., Colorado Springs, Colorado, and vice president and a director of Ames Textile in Lowell.

Ames was completely taken with Villa del Balbianello when he visited Europe for the first time in 1912, and he determined to purchase the Villa. He succeeded in 1919, beautifully restoring the Villa. On a Dictaphone Tape he tells the story (also a short autobiography). The Tape was transcribed, and his greater family published it in book form: "Butler Ames and the Villa Balbianello, Lake Como, Italy, An American Oral History." Essays and introductions by Evelyn Ames, Pauline Ames Plimpton, Ezio Antonini, Sarah and George Plimpton plus period photographs and the illustrated Guest Book 1920 to 1970 was added. The book was edited by Oakes Plimpton and printed by Hobblebush Press, 2009, available through Amazon Books or Oakes Plimpton, 67 Coolidge Road, Arlington, MA 02476.

Ames died in Tewksbury, Massachusetts in 1954, at the age of 83. He is buried, along with his father, grandfather and extended family, in the Hildreth family cemetery, behind the main cemetery on Hildreth Street in Lowell. His heirs sold Villa del Balbianello in 1974 to Guido Monzino.

Camp Chase (Massachusetts)

Camp Chase, also known as Camp Wilson, was a training camp for Massachusetts militia during the American Civil War located in Lowell, Massachusetts. Several thousand recruits were trained at Camp Chase before being sent south to the battle front.In 1860, the Middlesex North Agricultural Society purchased land south of the center of Lowell from the Boston & Lowell Railroad Company for a fairground. Before the war began, the fairground was frequently used for musters and drills of Massachusetts militia units under the command of Major General Benjamin Butler, a prominent attorney of Lowell and Massachusetts militia officer. When the war began, Butler played a large role in creating a more permanent camp on this location.At least eleven units were trained at Camp Chase during its two years of operation from 1861 to 1863. These included the 26th, 30th, and 31st Massachusetts regiments of infantry, the 2nd Massachusetts Battalion of Cavalry, the 3rd Massachusetts Regiment of Cavalry, and the 4th, 6th, 7th and 15th Massachusetts Batteries of Light Artillery. Units from other states were also trained at Camp Chase including the 11th Maine Infantry and the 9th Connecticut Infantry Regiment.After the war, the military camp was discontinued and the site returned to use as an agricultural fair ground. The fair ground ceased operation in 1906.

Camp Williams (Massachusetts)

Camp Williams is a former American Civil War training camp that existed in 1862 in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Elisha Huntington

Elisha Huntington (April 9, 1796 – December 11, 1865) was an American physician and politician who served as the Mayor of Lowell, Massachusetts and as the 19th Lieutenant Governor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1853 to 1854.

Frederic T. Greenhalge

Frederic Thomas Greenhalge (born Greenhalgh) (July 19, 1842 – March 5, 1896) was a British-born lawyer and politician in the United States state of Massachusetts. He served in the United States House of Representatives and was the state's 38th governor. He was elected three consecutive times, but died early in his third term. He was the state's first foreign-born governor.

Holy Trinity Parish (Lowell, Massachusetts)

Holy Trinity Parish - designated for Polish immigrants in Lowell, Massachusetts, United States.

Founded in 1904. It is one of the Polish-American Roman Catholic parishes in New England in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Lowell Airport (Massachusetts)

Lowell Airport was an airfield operational in the mid-20th century in Lowell, Massachusetts. The airport hosted the Moth Aircraft Corp. of Lowell, where 179 de Havilland Moth planes were manufactured under license between 1929-1931.

Lowell Devils

The Lowell Devils were an ice hockey team in the American Hockey League playing in Lowell, Massachusetts, at the Tsongas Center. As their name implied, they were the top minor league affiliate of the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League. The team was founded in 1998 as the Lowell Lock Monsters and was purchased by the Devils in 2006.

After the 2009–10 season, the Devils agreed to move the Lowell franchise to Albany, New York, where their previous AHL affiliate, the Albany River Rats, had played. The new team then became the Albany Devils.

Lowell High School (Massachusetts)

Lowell High School is a single-campus public high school located in downtown Lowell, Massachusetts. The school is a part of Lowell Public Schools.

Lowell National Historical Park

Lowell National Historical Park is a National Historical Park of the United States located in Lowell, Massachusetts. Established in 1978 a few years after Lowell Heritage State Park, it is operated by the National Park Service and comprises a group of different sites in and around the city of Lowell related to the era of textile manufacturing in the city during the Industrial Revolution. In 2019, the park is scheduled to be included as Massachusetts' representative in the America the Beautiful Quarters series.

Lowell Public Schools

Lowell Public Schools is a school district headquartered in the Henry J. Mroz Central Administration Offices at the Edith Nourse Rogers School in Lowell, Massachusetts.In 1987 Mary Jane Mullen, a guidance counselor at the school district, stated on WGBH-TV that around 1977 there were significant numbers of Latinos and Greek speaking people, and that by 1987 there were still significant numbers of Latinos but that there were no longer significant numbers of Greek-speaking students. By 1987 the district received an influx of Cambodian students.

Merrimack Canal

The Merrimack Canal is a power canal in Lowell, Massachusetts. The canal, dug in the 1820s, begins at the Pawtucket Canal just above Swamp Locks, and empties into the Merrimack River near the Boott Cotton Mills. The Merrimack Canal was the first major canal to be dug at Lowell exclusively for power purposes, and delivered 32 feet (9.8 m) of hydraulic head to the mills of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company. The Merrimack Manufacturing Company was the first of the major textile mills constructed in Lowell. It was demolished around 1960.

The canal, which runs along the southeast side of Dutton Street and then between the two halves of Lowell High School, is unique in the Lowell Canal System as it delivers the full 32-foot (9.8 m) drop of the Merrimack at once, instead of operating on a 13-foot (4.0 m) and a 17-foot (5.2 m) two-level system.

Merrimack River

The Merrimack River (or Merrimac River, an occasional earlier spelling) is a 117-mile-long (188 km) river in the northeastern United States. It rises at the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee rivers in Franklin, New Hampshire, flows southward into Massachusetts, and then flows northeast until it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Newburyport. From Pawtucket Falls in Lowell, Massachusetts, onward, the Massachusetts–New Hampshire border is roughly calculated as the line three miles north of the river.

The Merrimack is an important regional focus in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The central-southern part of New Hampshire and most of northeast Massachusetts is known as the Merrimack Valley.

Several U.S. naval ships have been named USS Merrimack and USS Merrimac in honor of this river. The river is perhaps best known for the early American literary classic A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers by Henry David Thoreau.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Lowell, Massachusetts

These are the National Registered Historic Places listings in Lowell, Massachusetts.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted April 12, 2019.

Pawtucket Canal

Completed in 1796, the Pawtucket Canal was originally built as a transportation canal to circumvent the Pawtucket Falls of the Merrimack River in East Chelmsford, Massachusetts. In the early 1820s it became a major component of the Lowell power canal system. with the founding of the textile industry at what became Lowell.The Pawtucket Falls are a mile long series of falls and rapids over which the Merrimack River drops 32 feet. The falls hampered the shipment of inland goods, mostly lumber, to the mouth of the Merrimack and Newburyport, Massachusetts. Newburyport was then one of the largest shipbuilding centers in New England, and a steady supply of wood from New Hampshire was critical to its industry.

The original canal was built by wealthy Boston merchants who formed a limited liability corporation called the Proprietors of Locks and Canals, one of the first of its kind in the United States. However, within a decade of its construction the Middlesex Canal was completed, connecting the Merrimack directly with Boston, Massachusetts. Bringing goods directly to Boston was more advantageous for merchants, and the Pawtucket Canal fell out of favor for inland transport.

The investors in the Boston Manufacturing Company having successfully built upon Francis Cabot Lowell and Paul Moody's work in building a successfully integrated cotton mill at Waltham, Massachusetts on the Charles River were looking for a site that offered more waterpower and the Pawtucket Falls offered what they needed. In 1821 they bought the Proprietors of Locks and Canals and with it the water rights of the Merrimack River upstream from the Pawtucket Falls. The Pawtucket Canal was deepened to become a power canal, and the first of 5.6 miles of canals in the soon to be named City of Lowell, Massachusetts. The first canal built off the Pawtucket Canal was the Merrimack Canal, which powered the Merrimack Manufacturing Company, thus starting the Lowell experiment, and the first planned industrial city in the United States.

The canal is operated today by Boott Hydro, LLC.

Pawtucket Falls (Massachusetts)

Pawtucket Falls is a waterfall on the Merrimack River at Lowell, Massachusetts. The waterfall and rapids below it drop a total of 32 feet in a little under a mile, and was an important fishing ground for the Pennacook Indians in pre-colonial times.

Scott Grimes

Scott Christopher Grimes (born July 9, 1971) is an American actor, voice artist, singer, and songwriter. Some of his most prominent roles include appearances in ER as Dr. Archie Morris, Party of Five as Will McCorkle, Band of Brothers as Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey, and the animated sitcom American Dad!, voicing Steve Smith. He is also well known by cult movie fans for his role as Bradley Brown in the first two Critters films. Since 2017, he has been a regular on the Fox sci-fi comedy-drama The Orville.

As a singer, Grimes is best known for co-writing and performing the soft rock single "Sunset Blvd", which spent several weeks on the Billboard charts.

The Sun (Lowell)

The Sun is a daily newspaper based in Lowell, Massachusetts, United States, serving towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the Greater Lowell area and beyond. As of 2011, its average daily circulation was about 42,900 copies. The paper, often called The Lowell Sun to distinguish it from other newspapers with similar names, has been owned since 1997 by MediaNews Group of Colorado.

Tsongas Center

The Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell (formerly the Tsongas Arena) is a multi-purpose facility owned by the University of Massachusetts Lowell and located in Lowell, Massachusetts. The arena was opened on January 27, 1998, and dedicated to the memory of the late Paul Tsongas, prominent Lowell native and U.S. senator. The arena was built with $4 million in funding from both the city and the university, plus another $20 million contributed from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

School Name Grades No. of Students Teacher/Student Ratio
Community Christian Academy K-8 185 1:9
Hellenic American Academy K-8 135 1:12
Immaculate Conception School K-8 324 1:17
Lowell Catholic High School
Riverside School (Non-sectarian SPED) 4-11 25 1:5
St. Louis School K-8 457 1:19
St. Michael Elementary School K-8 407 1:16
St. Patrick School K-8 181 1:15
St. Stanislaus School[55] K-8 124 1:12
Ste Jeanne d'Arc School, est. 1910[56] K-8 375 1:17
St. Margaret School (CLOSED) K-8 1:20
Franco-American School, est. 1963 (CLOSED)[57] K-8 1:13
Lowell City Council (as of 1/3/18)[115]
  • Karen Cirillo (Jan. 2018–present)
  • David Conway (Jan. 2018–present)
  • Rodney M. Elliott (Jan. 1998–present)**
  • John Leahy (Sept. 2012–present)
  • Edward J. Kennedy, Jr. (Jan. 1978-Jan. 1986, Jan. 2012–present)**
  • Rita M. Mercier (Jan. 1996–present)**
  • James Milinazzo (Jan. 2004-Jan. 2012, Jan. 2014–present)**
  • Vesna Nuon (Jan. 2012-Jan. 2014, Jan. 2018–present)^
  • William Samaras (Jan. 2014–present)*

* =current mayor

^ =deputy mayor

**=former mayor

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