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Thundertubs Feb 16, 2009 3:58 AM

Lowell, MA
February 15th, 2009.
Lowell (pop. 105,000) is the fourth largest city in Massachusetts after Boston, Worcester, and Springfield.
It is one of the oldest industrial cities in the US and is built on a network of canals on the Merrimack River.
Coming into town on Chelmsford St

Public housing on Gorham St, south of downtown.

South St, looking towards the mills

Summer St

Middlesex St

Garnet St

Middlesex again

Revere St

Jackson St. The mill on the right has been refurbished as condos. The other one, perhaps someday.

The Appleton Mill

One of the canals. They have names, but I don't know them.

Middlesex and Elliot St

Elliot St

Central St

Central and Jackson

Market St


Bridge St

The Sun Building

Cox Bridge

Merrimack St, the main drag in downtown Lowell

Palmer St

Old firehouse, turned into a restaurant

Middle St

Merrimack St

City Hall

Market & Dutton

Worthen Street towards City Hall

Market Street, west of downtown

O’Brian Terrace public housing. There seemed to be a large Dominican population in the area. Lowell also has the second largest Cambodian population in the US after Long Beach, CA. The city is over 10% Cambodian, which is the highest percentage in the US.

Market at Lewis St

Abandoned public housing on Lewis St

The only residential areas I hit were adjacent to downtown to the south and west, which tended to be on the grittier side.

Quiet Sunday morning

Another canal

Suffolk St

Near Cabot St

Looking back towards downtown on Market

Salem St

Cabot St

Merrimack St

Detail on City Hall

Back downtown

Merrimack at John St

Some fixed up mills by the river

Mills with Centralville neighborhood, north of the river, in back

Hill in Centralville

French St


Cox Bridge

Merrimack, upriver towards Nashua, NH

Downriver towards Lawrence, MA

The Concord River

Merrimack River from the Hunts Fall Bridge

The Concord River, at left, joins the Merrimack

On a hill north of the river


Merrimack St

E. Merrimack & High St

Jackson & Gorham, heading back

Appleton & Gorham


Here's a few shots from early September of 2005, for a warmer look at things

Lowell is one of those cities where almost every square inch is potentially interesting. I didn't even touch any neighborhoods more than a few blocks form downtown. They seemed pretty neat driving in and out. Perhaps another day...

This concludes the Merrimack River cities trilogy:

stepper77 Feb 16, 2009 7:39 AM

Definitely some nice buildings in there and lots more potential. Great photos, thanks!

Evergrey Feb 16, 2009 7:43 AM

that is one tough city

hauntedheadnc Feb 16, 2009 10:07 AM

I approve of this thread.

brickell Feb 16, 2009 3:13 PM

There goes my idyllic image of new england.
Thanks for the enlightening work (including the other 2 sets). It's fascinating to see so much turn into so little.

Top Of The Park Feb 16, 2009 3:17 PM

I really like it there

kcexpress69 Feb 16, 2009 4:50 PM

Wow!! Quite a city that I've never seen before!! For a city over a hundred thousand, there seems to be quite a few run down areas. I wonder what the population would be if it was all restored into loft areas!! Interesting area!! :cool:

blade_bltz Feb 16, 2009 5:36 PM

This is gritatistc. You made Lowell look orders of magnitude more depressed than Lawrence! Badass.

Brickell - from everything I've heard, Lowell is supposed to be experiencing a kind of 'renaissance.' It's definitely been through tougher times in the past.

Jibba Feb 16, 2009 6:27 PM

What a cool place. All of those canal-hugging warehouses and mills are fantastic. Thanks for another exceptional tour.

LSyd Feb 16, 2009 6:53 PM

interesting, thanks. i'd always wondered what it looked like after reading about it in history class; kind of looks like a place out of a dream.


xzmattzx Feb 16, 2009 6:58 PM

Nice pictures. It looks like there's a whole neighborhood of mills along the rivers. Is this true?

brickell Feb 16, 2009 7:04 PM


Originally Posted by blade_bltz (Post 4091082)
Brickell - from everything I've heard, Lowell is supposed to be experiencing a kind of 'renaissance.' It's definitely been through tougher times in the past.

I read that in the other threads after writing and can see it in some of the pictures he posted. I was referring more to the large warehouses and industrial spaces, not the city itself. They're much bigger than I'd ever expect, but sit empty. It seems almost museum like.

Prahaboheme Feb 16, 2009 9:13 PM

^Those huge empty warehouses are being renovated into condos one by one. Those that have are quite nice. In general, this city is on its way up along with Haverhill (cannot say the same for Lawrence).

hymalaia Feb 16, 2009 9:47 PM

great thread. Lowell is one of my favorite cities in all of New England. I agree with those who think it's doing better than these pix indicate, at least in relation to other MA "mill cities". Downtown is very quaint, with the mills (now lofts, I guess), historic architecture, and cobblestone streets. Commuter rail into Boston doesn't hurt I'm sure. The poster who said it's like a museum was correct, the city is milking the history for all it's worth. I believe a museum there is managed by the national park system, but don't quote me on that.

Ex-Ithacan Feb 16, 2009 9:53 PM

Lowell - a blue collar beaut. I like the dirty snow, kinda added to some of the grit. Loved the tour Tt, thanks.

stormkingfan Feb 16, 2009 10:07 PM

Last time I was in Lowell was in 2000. Back then, I noticed a big difference from when I was there in '82 when it was one dead town. Quite a bit of money has gone into Lowell. It still looks like a city out in the middle of nowhere, but, for the most part, seems like a nice oasis from near-by Boston.

You did some good coverage there!

i_am_hydrogen Feb 16, 2009 10:33 PM

Interesting shots. I've never seen Lowell before. Kerouac was born there, if I recall correctly.

yerfdog Feb 17, 2009 9:43 PM

Nice shots. I've been to the Lowell Mill Museum a few times, it's pretty cool. I hope they do manage to rehab most of those empty factory buildings before they fall completely into disrepair.

denveraztec Feb 17, 2009 10:28 PM

Grit-Tactular! I could see so much potential in most of these buildings and from some of the comments, it sounds like some rehab is happening. Cool tour!

Thundertubs Feb 18, 2009 7:22 PM

Thanks for the comments, folks. I think I walked over five miles taking these.
I didn't know much about specific Lowell neighborhoods beforehand, but have done a little research since then. It turns out the area I photographed midway through the tour, west of downtown with all the low-rise public housing is part of a neighborhood known as The Acre, and is known as Lowell's worst. It was dead quiet when I was there so I was able to get a bunch of pics. Having that as the only residential area I shot does skew the impression of Lowell in this tour a bit. The neighborhoods I saw from the car further from downtown seemed to be more stable blue collar areas, with some solid middle class areas on the outskirts.
A pretty cool city, throughout.

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