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Lowell, Massachusetts

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Lowell is the fourth biggest city in Massachusetts. Covering 14.5 sq mi (37.7 sq km), it has a population of 107,000 people (2011 estimate). The city is one of the two county seats of Middlesex County, the other being Cambridge. It is located in the north-central part of Massachusetts, at the confluence of the Merrimack and Concord Rivers.

Lowell, MassachusettsLowell, Massachusetts
photo source,_Lowell_MA.jpg
authorshipJohn Phelan

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Lowell is regarded as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in America. It was founded in the 1820s as a textile manufacturing center. The town was named after businessman Francis Cabot Lowell, who is credited with bringing the Industrial Revolution to the country. He passed away five years before the town was established.

By the 1850s Lowell had the largest industrial complex in the United States, based mainly on cotton. There are more spindles in the city than all the eleven states that would form the Confederacy. The availability of work in the city attracted waves of immigrants, including Catholic Germans, French Canadians, and later on Portuguese, Lithuanians, Swedes and European Jews.

Old Mill Building in Lowell now converted to a museumOld Mill Building in Lowell now converted to a museum
photo source,_Lowell,_Massachusetts.jpg

The cotton and milling industries of Lowell eventually went into decline in the post-World War I years of the 1920s, and by the Great Depression, many of the mills were going out of business. The city experienced a rebound in the 1970s, when it became the headquarters of Wang Laboratories. During its peak, Wang Laboratories employed some 33,000 people and was chalking up annual revenues of $3 billion. But this was not to last. By 1992 the company went bankrupt. It reemerged as Wang Global, and in 1999 was bought over by Getronics of the Netherlands.

Visiting Lowell

US Highway 3 or Interstate 495 are the main highways linking Lowell with the rest of the country. You can also take the train from Boston. The Lowell Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail has a terminus in the city.

Lowell City Hall, MassachusettsLowell City Hall, Massachusetts
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Places of Interest in Lowell

  1. American Textile History Museum
    Museum recounting the history of the textile industry in America, and in Lowell particularly.

  2. National Streetcar Museum
    A branch of the Seashore Trolley Museum, this museum showcases antique streetcars and trams.

  3. New England Quilt Museum
    Museum showcasing numerous exquisitely made quilts.

  4. Whistler House Museum of Art
    Housed in the home of famous 19th century artist James McNeill Whistler, it became the home of the Lowell Art Association and museum since 1908.

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