The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Lowell

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LOWELL, Mass., city, county-seat of Middlesex County, at the junction of the Concord and Merrimac rivers, and on the New York, New Haven and Hartford and the Boston and Maine railroads, about 25 miles northwest of Boston. Lowell, formerly Chelmsford, was founded in 1822, by the “Merrimac Manufacturing Company,” and named in honor of Francis Cabot Lowell (q.v.). In four years it was incorporated as a town, and in 1836 it was chartered as a city known as the “Workshop of the World.” The city now has an area of over 14 square miles. The city is noted for its great number of manufactories and its large annual output of manufactured articles. The power is obtained from the falls of the Merrimac which here descend 32 feet and from the Concord River; but 80,000 horse-power steam power is used. The “Proprietors of Locks and Canals” was organized early in the 19th century, for the purpose of obtaining and supplying power for cotton factories. The canal system was nearly completed in 1825, but the first canals were more like ordinary ditches; now they are walled and fitted with locks and bridges, all of the best construction and latest improvements. They are so well built that the annual amount spent for repairs is comparatively small. By means of this canal system of seven and one-half miles water power is furnished to many factories in Lowell, then returned to the Merrimac to be used lower down the stream to turn the wheels for the mills in Lawrence.

Some of the manufacturing establishments are woolen and cotton factories, hosiery and knitting mills, carpet and felt factories, bleacheries, dyeing works, machine-shops, patent-medicine works, a cartridge factory and furniture factories. Lowell has many points of historic and scenic interest and a number of fine public buildings. The educational institutions are the State Normal School, the Rogers Hall School, the Lowell Textile School, Saint Patrick's Academy, a high school, and public and parish elementary schools. The city has the Lowell Hospital, Lowell General Hospital, Saint John's Hospital, Saint Peter's Orphanage, Theodore Edson Orphanage, Ayer Home for Young Women and Children, Saint Patrick's Home for Working Women and the Old Ladies' Home.

The annual amount of municipal expenditures is about $2,206,859.30; the principal items are for schools about $463,942; for hospitals, almshouses, etc., $120,000; for police department, $167,000; for the fire department, $193,000; for municipal lighting, $121,000; for waterworks, $240,000. The waterworks were built in 1873 at a cost of about $2,875,000. There are now about 130 miles of mains. The waterworks are owned and operated by the city. Pop. 106,294, about 40 per cent of whom are of foreign birth. Consult Drake, ‘History of Middlesex County’; ‘Illustrated History of Lowell.’