Lowell, Massachusetts

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Lowell, Massachusetts
City of Lowell
Lowell City Hall; Lowell, MA; southwest side; 2011-08-20.JPG
Mill Building (now museum), Lowell, Massachusetts.JPG
Coburn Hall.jpg
Lowell skyline.jpg
Left-right from top: Lowell City Hall, Lowell mills, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell Skyline
Flag of Lowell, Massachusetts.png
Mill City, Spindle City, City of Lights City of Magic
"Art is the Handmaid of Human Good." [1]
Middlesex County Massachusetts incorporated and unincorporated areas Lowell highlighted.svg
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
USA Massachusetts location map.svg
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Location in the United States
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Lowell (the United States)
Coordinates: 42°38′22″N71°18′53″W / 42.63944°N 71.31472°W / 42.63944; -71.31472 Coordinates: 42°38′22″N71°18′53″W / 42.63944°N 71.31472°W / 42.63944; -71.31472
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of Massachusetts.svg  Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Region New England
A city1836
  Type Manager-City council
   Mayor John Leahy
   City Manager Eileen Donoghue
  Total14.53 sq mi (37.63 km2)
  Land13.61 sq mi (35.25 km2)
  Water0.92 sq mi (2.38 km2)
102 ft (31 m)
(2019) [3]
  Density8,155.55/sq mi (3,148.77/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
01850, 01851, 01852, 01853, 01854
Area code(s) 978 / 351
FIPS code 25-37000
GNIS feature ID0611832
Website City of Lowell, Massachusetts

Lowell ( /ˈləl/ ) is a city in Massachusetts, in the United States. With Cambridge, Lowell is one of two traditional seats of Middlesex County, although most county government entities in Massachusetts have been defunct since 1999. [4] With an estimated population of 110,997 in 2019, [5] it was the fourth most populous city in Massachusetts as of the last census and is estimated to be the fifth most populous as of 2018, and the second most populous in the Boston metropolitan statistical area. [6] The city also is part of a smaller Massachusetts statistical area, called Greater Lowell, and of 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 because of its textile mills and factories. Many of Lowell's historic manufacturing sites were later preserved by the National Park Service to create Lowell National Historical Park. [7] 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. [8]

Lowell is home to two institutions of higher education. UMass Lowell, part of the University of Massachusetts system, has three campuses in the city. Middlesex Community College's two campuses are in Lowell and in the town of Bedford, Massachusetts.


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. Merrimack and Concord.jpg
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 mi (40 km) 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, [9] 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 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, built 1824 Saint Anne's Episcopal Church; Lowell, MA; south (front) side; 2011-08-20.JPG
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. [10] 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." [11] 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 came to work in Lowell and settled in ethnic neighborhoods, with the city's population reaching almost 50% foreign-born by 1900. [12] 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. [12] 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. [12] 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.

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

Former mill agent's house Lowell Park HQ.jpg
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. [13]

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. [14]

Pawtucket Canal Pawtucket Canal at Central St looking west, Lowell MA.jpg
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. [15] 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. [16] [17]


Aerial view of LeLacheur Park and the UMass-Lowell campus Lowell From the Air.JPG
Aerial view of LeLacheur Park and the UMass-Lowell campus
Lowell in 1876 1876 bird's eye view of Lowell, Massachusetts; colored.jpg
Lowell in 1876

Lowell is located at 42°38′22″N71°18′53″W / 42.63944°N 71.31472°W / 42.63944; -71.31472 (42.639444, -71.314722). [18] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.5 square miles (38 km2) of which 13.8 square miles (36 km2) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) (5.23%) is water.


Lowell features a four-season Humid continental climate, with long and very cold winters, which typically experience an average 56 in (1,400 mm) of snowfall, with the highest ever recorded seasonal snowfall being 120 in (3,000 mm). Summers are hot and humid, and of average length, with autumn and spring are brief transition periods between the two. On average, temperature in Lowell ranges from 64 to 84 °F (18 to 29 °C) in the summer months, and between 2 and 33 °F (−17 and 1 °C) in the winter months, with the yearly average being 49 °F (9 °C).


Central Lowell's canal system (1975) The city limits extend in all directions from this central core. 1975 map of canal system in Lowell, Massachusetts.png
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 mi (64 km) 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[ citation needed ] 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.


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

Lowell has eight distinct neighborhoods: the Acre, Back Central, Belvidere, Centralville, Downtown, Highlands, Pawtucketville, and South Lowell. [19] 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 Historic District runs along Fairmount Street. Lower Belvidere is the section west of Nesmith Street. Rogers Fort Hill Park Historic District, Lowell Cemetery, and Shedd Park are this side of town.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. [20]


Historical population
1830 6,474    
1840 20,796+221.2%
1850 33,383+60.5%
1860 36,827+10.3%
1870 40,928+11.1%
1880 59,475+45.3%
1890 77,696+30.6%
1900 94,969+22.2%
1910 106,294+11.9%
1920 112,759+6.1%
1930 100,234−11.1%
1940 101,389+1.2%
1950 97,249−4.1%
1960 92,107−5.3%
1970 94,239+2.3%
1980 92,418−1.9%
1990 103,439+11.9%
2000 105,167+1.7%
2010 106,519+1.3%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States census records and Population Estimates Program data. [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31]
U.S. Decennial Census [32]

Population Density: According to the 2010 Census, [33] there were 106,519 people living in the city. The population density was 7,842.1 inhabitants per square mile (3,027.9/km2). There were 41,431 housing units at an average density of 2,865.5/sq mi (1,106.4/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. [33]

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. [34] In 2010 the city's population had a median age of 32.6. [35] 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. [35]

Median Income: for a household in the city was $51,714, according to the American Community Survey 5-year estimate ending in 2012. [36] 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. [37]

Racial Makeup: In 2010, the ethnic diversity of the city was 60.3% White (49.3% Non-Hispanic White [38] ), 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. [39]

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 opened up its third U.S. Consular Office in Lowell, on April 27, 2009, with Sovann Ou as current advisor to the Cambodian Embassy. [40] The other consular offices are in Long Beach, California, and Seattle, Washington, which also have large Cambodian communities.


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

The city 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.


According to current FBI Crime Data Analysis, Lowell is the 46th most dangerous city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for all sizes, [41] 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. [42] Lowell's violent crime rate is comparable to Honolulu, HI and is less than one-quarter that of Washington, D.C. [43]

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). [42] [44]

History of anti-crime efforts

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.

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. [45] 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). [45]


Colleges and universities

With a rapidly growing student population, Lowell has been considered an emerging college town. [46] 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. [47]

Recreation Center at UMass Lowell Recreation Center, north.jpg
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, [48] Lowell Community Charter Public School, [49] [50] and Lowell Collegiate Charter School. [51]

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. [52]

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. [53]

Private schools

School NameGradesNo. of StudentsTeacher/Student Ratio
Community Christian AcademyK-81851:9
Hellenic American AcademyK-81351:12
Immaculate Conception SchoolK-83241:17
Lowell Catholic High School
Riverside School (Non-sectarian SPED)4-11251:5
St. Louis School (CLOSED)PreK2.9-82101:19
St. Michael Elementary SchoolK-82301:16
St. Patrick SchoolK-81811:15
St. Stanislaus School (CLOSED) [54] K-81241:12
Ste Jeanne d'Arc School, est. 1910 [55] K-83751:17
St. Margaret School (CLOSED)K-81:20
Franco-American School, est. 1963 (CLOSED) [56] K-81:13


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


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 [57] at 134 Merrimack St. In 1890–1891, 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. [58] 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. [59] The city also expanded the library system to include the Senior Center Branch, located in the City of Lowell Senior Center. [60]

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. [58] [61] In fiscal year 2009, Lowell spent 0.35% ($885,377) of its budget on the library—some $8 per person. [62]

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. [63]


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. [64] Its current collection concentrates on the sciences, engineering, business management, social sciences, humanities, and health. [65]

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. [66] Its current collection concentrates on music and art. [67]

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). [68]



A bus of the Lowell Regional Transit Authority LRTA bus along Stevens Street at Light Avenue; Lowell, MA; 2011-12-08.JPG
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. [69] 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. OurBus has daily bus service to Worcester and New York City. Other service includes Merrimack Vallery Regional Transfer Authority (MVRTA) Route 41 to Lawrence, and the Coach Company bus to Foxwoods Resort Casino.

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 between its various sites in the city center, using track formerly used to provide freight access to the city's mills. An expansion to expand the system to 6.9 mi (11.1 km) was planned but rejected in 2016. [70]

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


Arts and culture

The Boott Cotton Mill Museum and Trolley Front of boott mill.jpg
The Boott Cotton Mill Museum and Trolley

Annual events

The National Park Boat Tour Lowell boat tour.jpg
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" Armenian Genocide memorial outside of Lowell City Hall. "A Mother's Hands" - Monument Dedicated to the Armenian Genocide.jpg
"A Mother's Hands" Armenian Genocide memorial outside of Lowell City Hall.


Lowell Memorial Auditorium Lowell Memorial Auditorium main entrance; Lowell, MA; west (front) side; 2011-08-20.JPG
Lowell Memorial Auditorium

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:

The Boott Cotton Mill and Museum Boott cotton mill looms.jpg
The Boott Cotton Mill and Museum
Lowell in the America the Beautiful quarter series 2019-america-the-beautiful-quarters-coin-lowell-massachusetts-uncirculated-reverse.jpg
Lowell in the America the Beautiful quarter series

Museums and public galleries

Interactive and live performances

Sports, teams and athletic venues

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


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. [108] Arthur Ramahlo's West End Gym is where many of the city's boxers train. [109]


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

Athletic venues


Lowell City Council (as of 1/3/21) [116]
  • Sokhary Chau (Jan. 2020–present)
  • David Conway (Jan. 2018–present)
  • John Drinkwater (Ja. 2020–present)
  • Rodney M. Elliott (Jan. 1998–present)**
  • John Leahy (Sept. 2012–present)*
  • Rita M. Mercier (Jan. 1996–present)**
  • Vesna Nuon (Jan. 2012-Jan. 2014, Jan. 2018–present)
  • Daniel Rourke (Jan. 2014-Jan. 2018, Jan. 2020-presnet)
  • William Samaras (Jan. 2014–present)**

* =current mayor

**=former mayor

Lowell has a Plan-E council-manager government. [117] 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. [118]

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 Chairperson of 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. [119] [120]

Lowell is represented in the Massachusetts General Court by elected state representatives Thomas Golden, Jr. (D- 16th Middlesex), Vanna Howard [121] (D- 17th Middlesex), Rady Mom (D- 18th Middlesex), [122] and by State Senator Edward J. Kennedy (1st Middlesex) who is also a City Councilor.

Federally, the city is part of Massachusetts's 3rd congressional district and represented by Lori Trahan (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. [123] [124] 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. [125] The effort was led by youth at the United Teen Equality Center in downtown Lowell. [106]

Lowell City Hall Lowell City Hall.JPG
Lowell City Hall
Registered Voters and Party Enrollment as of February 15, 2012 [126]
PartyNumber of VotersPercentage
Democratic 20,42040.48%
Republican 4,5429.00%

Voting rights lawsuit

Lowell is the last city in Massachusetts to use a fully plurality-at-large system due to its impact in diluting minority representation on its city council and school committee. With majority bloc voting these two committees were all-white, and had been mostly so for decades, despite the fact that the city's minority population had grown to 49%. [127]

On May 18, 2017, the Boston Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Latino and Asian-American voters, charging Lowell with violating the Voting Rights Act. [127]

On May 29, 2019, a settlement agreement was reached that laid out six options for Lowell voters to review: [128]

Two options will be selected by the city council and will be put before the voters to choose in a non-binding referendum in November 2019, with a final decision by the city council in December 2019. The new system must be put in place by the November 2021 municipal elections.


The Sun is the city's daily newspaper. The Lowell Sun building; Lowell, MA; south and east sides; 2011-08-20.JPG
The Sun is the city's daily 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. [129] 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. [130]



Lowell Telecommunication Corporation [131] (LTC) - A community media and technology center

Businesses started and products invented in Lowell


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. [132]

The UMASS Lowell Innovation Hub [133] (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:


Banks and financial institutions

Merged financial institutions

  • Lowell Bank and Trust Company (1970–1983; now part of Bank of America) [148]
  • Lowell Institution for Savings (1829–1991; now part of TD Banknorth N.A.) [149]
  • Butler Bank (1901–2010; now part of People's United Bank) [150] [151]
  • Lowell Co-operative Bank/Sage Bank (1885–2018; now part of Salem Five Bank) [152]

Notable people

Twin towns – sister cities

Lowell's sister cities are: [153]


See also

Related Research Articles

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The following is a timeline of the history of Lowell, Massachusetts, US.


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Further reading

Primary sources