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Lowell: Economy

Lowell: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Lowell is a diversified industrial city. Service is a major sector of the local economy with more than a quarter of total employment. Manufacturing, trade, transportation, and government are other key sectors. Tourism is an economic mainstay, with the downtown area welcoming about 500,000 visitors annually.

Lowell is succeeding in transforming its economic base. This effort has included the renovation of many of the city's historic textile mills, many of which now contain affordable, attractive office space. Lowell boasts an impressive roster of businesses that include Coca-Cola, M/A Com, Raytheon, NYNEX, and Textron, alongside long-established firms such as Colonial Gas, Joan Fabrics Corporation, and the Lowell Sun Publishing Company. Small businesses abound in Lowell as well, supported by the city's business environment which includes two full-service hotels and three bedand-breakfasts.

Current plans for Lowell suggest the downtown area may become a trendy, affordable bedroom community for daily commuters to Boston, just 25 miles away. Downtown improvements are also expected to attract Boston businesses seeking low-cost, high-quality satellite offices.

Items and goods produced: textiles, yarns and threads, textile machinery, knitwear, wire and cable, plastics, computer hardware and software, electronic publishing and printing

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

Organizations helping business in Lowell include the Lowell Plan, Inc., the Lowell Development and Financial Corporation, and the City of Lowell's Division of Planning and Development. Businesses moving to Lowell's designated Renewal Community can receive employee wage credits and tax deductions. The Lowell Small Business Assistance Center offers $5,000 grants to profitable, expanding business with income of $50,000 or less; it also provides entrepreneurial support such as planning, education and technical assistance. Preservation grants and incentives are available for projects in the Lowell Historic District and Lowell National Park. The Technical Assistance Program provides grants to retailers in the downtown area; funds may be used in a variety of areas including marketing, e-commerce, merchandising, legal, accounting, and design. The Downtown Venture Fund Program offers low-interest loans to specialty retailers and restaurants.

State programs

The Massachusetts Office of Business Development administers the Economic Development Incentive Program, which fosters business growth and job creation in specific locations. Incentives include state tax credits, an abandoned building deduction for renovating unused space, investment tax credits, and special property tax assessments. MassDevelopment provides financing for new facilities, job creation, equipment, and land purchases. Its many offerings include term working capital loans for businesses affected by adverse market conditions, below market rate financing for equipment purchases between $50,000 and $500,000, real estate loans up to $3 million, and loans for specialized equipment in the technology industry. MassDevelopment may also guarantee private loans. The Economic Stabilization Trust lends working capital to small and medium manufacturing companies when traditional financing is unavailable. The Massachusetts Business Resource Team matches businesses with specific needs to the appropriate state program.

Job training programs

The state Workforce Training Fund provides resources for Massachusetts employers to train or retrain new and existing workers. Its offerings include the Express Program, which grants up to $15,000 to small companies and labor organizations; the General Program which administers grants up to $1 million; and the Hiring Incentive Training Program which covers up to $2,000 in training costs for new employees. UMass-Lowell takes part in the city's economic development strategy by actively providing technical assistance to local start-up companies in need of engineering support. Middlesex Community College offers career training and skill upgrading during the day, evenings and weekends, and online; on-site job training is also available.

Development Projects

Projects underway as of 2005 include the Route 3 lane expansion, an ongoing urban renewal initiative in the Jack-son/Middlesex/Appleton area of downtown, $7.72 million worth of improvements to the Lowell Canal, and safety upgrades at various intersections. A portion of the Boott Cotton Mills will be converted into condominium housing with 41 phase one units scheduled for completion in September 2005. Reconstruction of Moulton Square took place in 2003 and 2004, including replacement and installation of playground equipment, improved pedestrian crossings, slowed traffic, and beautification. Lowell General Hospital opened its new Endoscopy Center in 2003.

Economic Development Information: Economic Development Department, Lowell City Hall, JFK Civic Center, 50 Arcand Drive, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)970-4252; fax (978)446-7014. The Lowell Plan, Inc., 11 Kearney Square, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)459-9899; fax (978)454-7637. Massachusetts Office of Business Development, 600 Suffolk St., Fourth Floor, Lowell, MA 01854; telephone (978)970-1193; fax (978)970-1570

Commercial Shipping

The Boston & Maine Railroad, with tracks throughout the U.S. Northeast and the Canadian Maritime provinces, can also ship freight elsewhere in the United States by using a series of connector routes. The Boston & Maine runs through Lowell, which is also served by several trucking fleets.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Lowell is considered the quintessential "working class" town. Far from its textile heritage, Lowell's workforce has diversified into education, software development, health care, research, and electronics. A rich multi-ethnic community contributes increasingly to small business growth; entrepreneurship is expected to be significant to Lowell's economy in the years to come. Employment in manufacturing continues to decline.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Lowell metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 117,000

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 7,200

manufacturing: 20,200

trade, transportation and utilities: 21,700

information: 5,800

financial activities: 4,300

professional and business services: 15,700

educational and health services: 12,600

leisure and hospitality: 9,800

other services: 23,100

government: 15,900

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $16.89 (statewide)

Unemployment rate: 5.0% (February 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees
M/A COM, Inc. 1,650
Saints Memorial Medical Center 1,334
Lowell General Hospital 1,320
UMass-Lowell 1,055
Middlesex Community College 950
Verizon 600
Demoulas Supermarkets 500
Community Teamwork Inc. 500
Joan Fabrics 463
Lowell Sun Publishing 350

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Lowell area.

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Median House Price: Not reported

State income tax rate: 5.3% on earned income; 12% on capital gains

State sales tax rate: 5.0% on most items; exemptions include food, heating fuel and prescription drugs

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: $10.18 per $1,000 of 100% of assessed value, residential; $20.20 per $1,000 of 100% of assessed value, commercial

Economic Information: Division of Planning and Development, Lowell City Hall, JFK Civic Center, 50 Arcand Drive, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)970-4252; fax (978)446-7014. Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce, 144 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)459-8154; fax (978)452-4145

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Lowell: History

Lowell: History

River Powers Textile Industry

For many years the site of present-day Lowell was an annual meeting ground for the tribes of the Pennacook Confederacy, who fished for salmon and shad in the waters of the Merrimack River. In 1686 the Confederacy sold the land to English farmers migrating from Boston. The farmers' town, named East Chelmsford, grew slowly until the Pawtucket Canal was completed in 1796. The canal bypassed the Pawtucket Falls to carry New Hampshire lumber to Newburyport, where it was used in shipbuilding. The demand for ships declined by 1815, but by then the site of East Chelmsford had attracted the attention of the Boston Manufacturing Company. It was the height of England's Industrial Revolution and U.S. President Thomas Jefferson knew that America must build factories if the young country was ever to become economically independent of Europe. Jefferson sought to avoid the squalor of England's mill towns by designating specific manufacturing sites in the United States. Jefferson's plan coincided with the Boston Manufacturing Company's search for a site with abundant water for powering its textile mills.

In 1821 mill executives Patrick Tracy Jackson and Nathan Appleton arrived in East Chelmsford, attracted by the potential of the 34-foot drop of the Pawtucket Falls and the confluence of the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Jackson and Tracy, with their agent Kirk Boott, established a mill for cotton production and calico printing and called the new enterprise the Merrimack Manufacturing Company. In 1826 the town was renamed in honor of Francis Cabott Lowell, whose genius had revolutionized the textile industry. Lowell's power loom made it possible to transform raw cotton into finished fabric within a single factory. Lowell's liberal operating philosophy also influenced Jackson and Appleton, who set out to build a model factory with good working conditions and cash wages. The mills grew up in a mile-long stretch on the banks of the Merrimack River, and a network of canals was dug to provide transportation and to divert water power to the factories.

In 1826 Lowell boasted 2,500 residents, a number that swelled to 17,000 by 1836 when Lowell also claimed 8 large textile mills and 7,500 textile workers. The Boston & Lowell Railroad arrived in 1835, furthering the city's expansion. Many of the workers, or "operatives," arriving in Lowell were Yankee farm girls attracted by the wages and the chance for independence. They lived in company boarding houses, their lives strictly regulated by bells. Their 12-hour day and 6-day week left little time for recreation, but the women found time to support churches, lyceums, schools, banks, concerts, and libraries. From 1840 to 1845, the operatives published The Lowell Offering, an early women's literary magazine. Under the editorship of Sarah Bagley, they also published The Voice of Industry, a paper calling attention to workers' grievances.

Reform, Immigration Precede High-Technology Growth

Technological innovations kept pace with the growth of the textile industry, but working conditions did not. By 1845, workers in the "city of spindles" were making less and working longer hours than when the mills opened. A series of strikes and walkouts finally led to the reduction of the workday from 13 to 11 hours in 1853. The first city-wide strike in 1903 was unsuccessful, but in 1912, workers did lobby successfully for a wage increase. Sarah Bagley, the Factory Girls Association, and the Lowell Female Reform Association are some of the names associated with the textile reform movement, a precursor of the major labor movements of the 1900s.

One reason early reform attempts met with little success was the influx of unskilled, uneducated immigrants eager to replace the Yankee farm girls at the looms. Irish arrived in the 1820s to help build the canals and mills. They were followed by Portuguese in the 1850s, French-Canadians in the 1860s and 1870s, southern African Americans in the 1870s, Greeks and European Jews in the 1880s, Poles in the 1890s, and Armenians in the first part of the twentieth century.

Around 1910 the South began to challenge the Northeast for the leadership of the textile industry. Lowell peaked in 1924 as a major textile center and began to investigate ways to diversify its economy. It sought new manufacturing firms and began to capitalize on its unique history as one of the American Industrial Revolution's first planned communities. In the latter half of the 20th century Lowell once again became known as a model city, this time for its economic and cultural revitalization. Wang Laboratories Inc. moved its corporate headquarters to Lowell in the early 1970s, spurring further growth of high-technology industries and, in 1978, Lowell National Historic Park was created to preserve the city's mills, canals, and workers' housing. Since 1975, more than 250 historic buildings have been restored, with 63 alone having generated $52 million in private investment.

By the early 1990s, Lowell had fallen on hard times. The Bank of New England failed (it has since been taken over by Fleet Bank), and Wang Laboratories filed for bankruptcy protection. The former Wang Laboratories building has since been transformed into a successful state-of-the-art office complex, while Wang has moved its headquarters to nearby Tewksbury. The Lowell National Historical Park has grown into a major tourist attraction. Lowell's ethnic diversity was augmented by a wave of immigrants from Southeast Asia and Latin America; many of whom boosted the local economy with small business initiatives. Famous Lowellians include painter James McNeill Whistler, actor Bette Davis, and novelist Jack Kerouac.

The City of Lowell is currently implementing a master plan for the next two decades, a vision for the future aimed at improving quality of life and capitalizing on cultural, natural and historical resources. Endorsed in 2003, the master plan will serve as a framework for future development and investment in Lowell. Major components of the plan are aimed at making Lowell a "lifetime city" where residents can enjoy all stages of life at various income levels, and preserving Lowell's identity as unique from Greater Boston.

Historical Information: Lowell National Historical Park, 67 Kirk Street, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)970-5000

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Lowell: Recreation

Lowell: Recreation

Sightseeing

Lowell's unique status as the country's first planned industrial community has been recognized with the designation of the Lowell National Historical Park. Covering 141 acres of downtown land, the park's textile mills, canals, museum exhibits, and nineteenth century buildings are connected by trolley service. The Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center is a restored 1836 boardinghouse for young women employed in the textile mills. It features an early nineteenth-century kitchen, bedrooms, and exhibits on labor history. The Pawtucket and Eastern Canals have been enhanced by walk-ways, landscaping, and public art, and boat tours are available. Other sights include the Lower Locks, the Appleton Mills, the School Street Cemetery, which dates from the 1770s, and the Homage to Women statue, which honors the American working woman.

Arts and Culture

The Lowell Memorial Auditorium is home to the award-winning Merrimack Repertory Theatre and plays host to a number of other cultural events, from touring Broadway musicals to boxing matches. Originally built in 1922, the restored facility seats 3,000. UMass Lowell's College of Fine Arts presents jazz and other music and dance events on campus at Durgin Hall. Outdoor concerts are presented in the summertime at Boarding House Park.

Whistler House Museum of Art, birthplace of artist James McNeill Whistler, has been preserved and is operated by the Lowell Art Association. The painter's works are featured among the museum's collection of nineteenth and twentieth century art. The New England Quilt Museum and the Boott Cotton Mills Museum reflect the community's link to the textile industry. The Cotton Mills Museum also houses the Tsongas Industrial History Center, New England Folklife Center, Lowell Historical Society, and Boott Gallery. The American Textile History Museum focuses on the origins of the Industrial Age and the history of American textiles. Brush Art Gallery and Studios is a non-profit workspace where visitors have the opportunity to observe local craftspeople engaged in the creative process. University Gallery is the city's leading space for the presentation of contemporary artists. Pieces of sculpture evocative of the city's industrial past are on view throughout the downtown.

Arts and Culture Information: Lowell Office of Cultural Affairs, 66 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)441-3800

Festivals and Holidays

The Lowell Folk Festival is the largest free folk festival in the country. Featuring ethnic music, dance, and entertainment on outdoor stages, this three-day event takes place in July. The Lowell Summer Music Festival takes place Friday and Saturday evenings at Boarding House Park, from July to September. This eclectic mix of concerts includes bluegrass, big band, zydeco, pop, and folk music in an open air setting. Touted as a celebration of beer, music and food, the Lowell Rib 'n' Brews Festival takes place in September. Also in September is the Lowell Irish Festival. The first weekend of October brings Jack Kerouac fans from around the world to Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, an homage to the On the Road writer and Lowell High alumnus. Lowell kicks off the holiday season with its City of Lights Parade in November, featuring marching bands, floats and holiday decorations. Other events include Winterfest in February, Patriots Day Celebrations in April, and Doors Open Lowell in May, a celebration of the city's historic architecture.

Sports for the Spectator

Lowell is one of just three New England cities with two professional sports teams. The 6,000-seat Tsongas Arena is home to the Lowell Lock Monsters, an American Hockey League affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, and UMass Lowell's top-ranked River Hawks hockey team. LeLacheur Park is home to the Lowell Spinners, a Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and UMass Lowell's River Hawks baseball team. Lowell is also less than an hour's drive to Boston's major-league sporting events.

The Sun newspaper sponsors the Lowell Golden Gloves boxing tournament, held in January and February each year. This multi-match event pits youth level boxers from all of New England against one another, with winners going on to the annual tournament. The Golden Gloves matches are held in Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

Sports for the Participant

Lowell offers a full range of recreational activities. Sailing, fishing, waterskiing and other water sports are popular pursuits on the Merrimack and Concord Rivers. Lowell-DracutTyngsborough State Forest is located within the city, with 6 miles of trails for hiking, skiing, horseback riding, backpacking, and cycling; a 30-acre lake there is used for skating and fishing. Lowell also maintains 34 playgrounds, 42 tennis courts and 6 golf courses. Atlantic Ocean beaches are less than an hour's drive; the White Mountains are a two-hour drive to the north in New Hampshire.

Shopping and Dining

Lowell offers downtown shopping with small department stores and other specialty shops. At the Boott Museum Store, books, prints, cloth, posters, and other historical items can be bought. Lucy Larcom Park (named after a local author and "mill girl") along the Merrimack Canal is the site of a Friday Farmer's Market.

Indian, French country, Italian, and Lebanese restaurants coexist happily with Lowell's oyster bars and seafood houses. The Athenian Corner Restaurant is reputed to offer New England's largest selection of Greek food.

Visitor Information: Lowell Office of Cultural Affairs, 66 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)441-3800. Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, 9 Central Street, Suite 201, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)459-6150; fax (978)459-4595

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Lowell: Education and Research

Lowell: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Lowell Public School system, administered by the Lowell School Committee, offers a strong commitment to literacy, technology, and multiculturalism. Its 23 elementary and middle schools stream into Lowell High, a progressive facility organized around the concept of "small learning communities." Lowell High's eight "academies" range in focus from fine arts to engineering; qualifying students may also enroll in the prestigious Latin Lyceum which offers a four-year classical college entrance program. In 2000 Lowell Public Schools was selected for the Teacher Career Advancement Program, a pilot grant program aimed at attracting and retaining highly qualified educators. In 2003 Lowell committed more than a million dollars to professional development and updated classroom materials as part of a new mathematics initiative. Lowell also offers alternative education and adult education.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Lowell public schools as of the 20042005 school year.

Total enrollment: 14,708

Number of facilities elementary schools: 16

junior high/middle schools: 7

senior high schools: 1

other: 5

Student/teacher ratio: 13.1:1

Teacher salaries average: $55,140 (2003)

Funding per pupil: $8,407 (2003)

An extensive choice of charter and private schools, as well as the Greater Lowell Technical High School in nearby Tyngsboro, supplements the public system.

Public Schools Information: Lowell Public Schools, 155 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)937-7604

Colleges and Universities

UMass Lowell, formerly Lowell University, dates back to the 1890s. The 1975 merger of Lowell State College and Lowell Technological Institute created the current campus; in 1991 it became part of the University of Massachusetts system. UMass Lowell offers a range of undergraduate, doctoral and professional degrees to its 12,000 students. Its colleges are closely allied with the local community as part of a commitment to public service.

Middlesex Community College is the largest community college in Massachusetts, offering 78 degree and certificate programs as well as non-credit courses and career training. Bachelor's degree completion is offered in partnership with Salem State College.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Samuel S. Pollard Memorial Library, Lowell's public library, is located in historic Memorial Hall. The newly reconstructed facility boasts elaborate interior and exterior architecture and includes a series of massive murals commemorating the Civil War. The library's collection includes 236,000 volumes as well as CDs, DVDs and microfilm; special collections focus on local history, genealogy and historic newspapers. As part of the Merrimack Library Consortium the Pollard Library has access to 1.5 million books at 35 locations.

Special interest libraries include the Lowell Law Library, located at the Superior Courthouse, and the libraries of the city's hospitals. UMass Lowell supports the Center for Atmospheric Research, which uses physics and other sciences to study the phenomenon of dynamism; Centers for Industrial Competitiveness and Sustainable Production; the Toxics Use Reduction Institute; and the Institute for Visualization and Perception Research. The University's Center for Lowell History holds a collection of historical photographs and other artifacts, and its Research Foundation explores many areas of physical science, communication and economics. A Research Library at the New England Quilt Museum is open by appointment to serious researchers on that subject.

Public Library Information: Samuel S. Pollard Memorial Library, 401 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)970-4120; fax (978)970-4117

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Lowell: Population Profile

Lowell: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Population (PMSA)

1990: 280,578

2000: 301,686

Percent change, 19902000: 7.5%

U.S. rank in 1990: 7th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 7th (CMSA)

City Residents

1980: 92,418

1990: 103,439

2000: 105,167

2003 estimate: 104,351

Percent change, 19902000: 1.7%

U.S. rank in 1980: 188th

U.S. rank in 1990: 188th (State rank: 4th)

U.S. rank in 2000: 243rd

Density: 7,635.6 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 72,145

Black or African American: 4,423

American Indian and Alaska Native: 256

Asian: 17,371

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 38

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 14,734

Other: 6,813

Percent of residents born in state: 62.2% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 7,696

Population 5 to 9 years old: 8,261

Population 10 to 14 years old: 7,945

Population 15 to 19 years old: 8,111

Population 20 to 24 years old: 8,892

Population 25 to 34 years old: 18,025

Population 35 to 44 years old: 16,137

Population 45 to 54 years old: 11,588

Population 55 to 59 years old: 4,026

Population 60 to 64 years old: 3,173

Population 65 to 74 years old: 5,683

Population 75 to 84 years old: 4,173

Population 85 years and older: 1,457

Median age: 31.4 years

Births (2003)

Total number: 1,696

Deaths (2002)

Total number: 863 (of which, 18 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $17,557

Median household income: $39,192

Total households: 37,992

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 4,858

$10,000 to $14,999: 2,733

$15,000 to $24,999: 4,572

$25,000 to $34,999: 4,900

$35,000 to $49,999: 6,519

$50,000 to $74,999: 7,743

$75,000 to $99,999: 3,587

$100,000 to $149,999: 2,259

$150,000 to $199,999: 512

$200,000 or more: 309

Percent of families below poverty level: 13.6% (45.5% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 4,258

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Lowell

Lowell

Lowell: Introduction
Lowell: Geography and Climate
Lowell: History
Lowell: Population Profile
Lowell: Municipal Government
Lowell: Economy
Lowell: Education and Research
Lowell: Health Care
Lowell: Recreation
Lowell: Convention Facilities
Lowell: Transportation
Lowell: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1686 (incorporated 1836)

Head Official: City Manager John Cox (since 2000)

City Population

1980: 92,418

1990: 103,439

2000: 105,167

2003 estimate: 104,351

Percent change, 19902000: 1.7%

U.S. rank in 1980: 188th

U.S. rank in 1990: 188th

U.S. rank in 2000: 243rd

Metropolitan Area Population (PMSA)

1990: 280,578

2000: 301,686

Percent change, 19902000: 7.5%

U.S. rank in 1990: 7th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 7th (CMSA)

Area: 14 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 110 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 51.6° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 42.8 inches of rain; 42.6 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: Services, trade, manufacturing

Unemployment Rate: 5% (February 2005)

Per Capita Income: $17,557 (1999)

2004 ACCRA Median House Price: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 4,258

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Middlesex Community College

Daily Newspaper: The Lowell Sun

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Lowell: Communications

Lowell: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

The Sun is the city's daily newspaper, published on weekday evenings on weekdays and weekend mornings. Special-interest publications originating in Lowell include Outlet,an independent performance magazine, and Le Journal de Lowell, a French-language newspaper.

Television and Radio

Lowell is serviced by a cable television franchise and receives commercial television stations originating in Boston. One AM and one FM radio station broadcast from Lowell, including a student station at the UMass Lowell.

Media Information: The Sun, 15 Kearney Square, Lowell, MA 01853; telephone (978)458-7100

Lowell Online

City of Lowell. Available www.ci.lowell.ma.us

Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce. Available www.greaterlowellchamber.org

Greater Merrimack Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available www.merrimackvalley.org

Lowell National Historical Park. Available www.nps.gov/lowe

Lowell Public Schools. Available www.lowell.k12.ma.us

Lowell Small Business Assistance Center. Available www.lowellsbac.org

Pollard Memorial Library. Available www.pollardml.org

The Sun. Available www.lowellsun.com

Selected Bibliography

Selden, Bernice, The Mill Girls: Lucy Larcom, Harriet Hanson Robinson, Sarah G. Bagle (New York: Atheneum, 1986)

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Lowell

Lowell, city (1990 pop. 103,439), a seat of Middlesex co., NE Mass., at the confluence of the Merrimack and Concord rivers; settled 1653, set off from Chelmsford 1826, inc. as a city 1836. High-technology computer industries have developed there; other manufactures include electronic and electrical equipment, textiles, rubber products, chemicals, machine parts, foodstuffs, shoes, and plastics. The city grew after textile mills were built at Pawtucket Falls, and it became one of the major textile centers of the country. The Boott Cotton Mills Museum, several "mill girl" boardinghouses, and the town's historic canal system are preserved in the Lowell National Historical Park, which also traces 19th-century industrial development (see National Parks and Monuments (table)); the American Textile History Museum is adjacent. A campus of the Univ. of Massachusetts is in Lowell. The city has several fine parks, and James Whistler's birthplace is preserved. Charles Dickens visited Lowell in 1842 and described it in American Notes.

See J. P. Coolidge, Mill and Mansion (1942, repr. 1967); T. Bender, Toward an Urban Vision (1982).

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Lowell: Convention Facilities

Lowell: Convention Facilities

The Lowell Memorial Auditorium seats up to 3,000 and can accommodate medium-sized trade shows with up to 90 exhibit booths. The auditorium also offers a variety of meeting rooms and lounges for media conferences and receptions. The nearby Doubletree Hotel Lowell has more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space, a business center and catering services. The Paul E. Tsongas Arena is a full-service convention venue with function rooms overlooking the Merrimack River; it offers seating for 8,000 and 30,000 square feet of exhibit space. The Courtyard by Marriott, about 2.5 miles from downtown Lowell, is suitable for smaller meetings. Within the Greater Lowell area, approximately 4,000 guest rooms are available in a number of hotels.

Convention Information: Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, 9 Central Street, Suite 201, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)459-6150; fax (978)459-4595

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Lowell: Transportation

Lowell: Transportation

Approaching the City

Boston's Logan International Airport, a 40-minute drive to the southeast, offers complete domestic, international, and freight air service. Manchester Airport in New Hampshire is slightly closer and offers domestic service. Vermont Transit Lines bus service and Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority rail lines both arrive at Gallagher Terminal.

Interstate-495 cuts through the city, running east and west and intersecting with Massachusetts Route 3, which runs north-south. The Lowell Connector allows highway access from these major arteries into downtown Lowell.

Traveling in the City

Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA) provides local and suburban bus service out of Gallagher Terminal. LRTA also offers Road Runner services for elderly and disabled patrons.

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Lowell: Introduction

Lowell: Introduction

Lowell, once the textile capital of the world, grew in the shadow of the huge mills lining the Merrimack River. Its ancient canals earned the city the nickname "Venice of America." With the southward movement of the textile industry in the 1920s, Lowell sought to diversify its economy to include a variety of manufactured products. By 1984, however, the town's economy had become as dependent on the mini-computer as it had formerly been on cotton. The early mill days are commemorated in the city's splendidly preserved industrial architecture. Lowell, whose downtown has been designated an urban national historical park, exists today as a living reminder of the processes and consequences of the Industrial Revolution.

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Lowell: Health Care

Lowell: Health Care

Two major acute care hospitals are located in the city. Saints Memorial Medical Center is the largest health care provider in the region; areas of specialty include comprehensive cancer care, dialysis, rehabilitative medicine, and pediatrics. Lowell General Hospital offers cancer care, a sleep lab and neurodiagnostic facility, pain management and wound healing centers, and a nationally recognized obstetric program. Both facilities also maintain 24-hour emergency departments.

Health Care Information: Lowell General Hospital, 295 Varnum Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854; telephone (978)937-6000. Saints Memorial Medical Center, 1 Hospital Drive, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)458-1411

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Lowell: Geography and Climate

Lowell: Geography and Climate

The city of Lowell, located in Middlesex County at the confluence of the Merrimack and Concord rivers, is 25 miles northwest of Boston. The city stands on a plateau in the Merrimack Valley, surrounded by hills of 100- to 200-foot elevations. Lowell's four-season climate is typical of New England. Summers are warm with a humid period lasting several weeks; winters are cold and moderately snowy.

Area: 14 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 110 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 24.7° F; July, 72.5° F; annual, 51.6° F

Annual Average Precipitation: 42.8 inches of rain; 42.6 inches of snow

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Lowell: Municipal Government

Lowell: Municipal Government

Lowell operates with a council-manager form of government. The elected nine-person council serves a two-year term of office. The council appoints a salaried professional city manager, who serves for an unspecified term, and a ceremonial mayor.

Head Official: City Manager John Cox (since 2000)

Total Number of City Employees: 2,000 (2005)

City Information: Office of the City Manager, Lowell City Hall, 375 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852; telephone (978)970-4000

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