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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Lawrence (Massachusetts)

< Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition

LAWRENCE, a city of Massachusetts, U.S., one of the county seats of Essex county, 26 miles by rail north of Boston, on the Merrimack, about 35 miles from its mouth. The greater part lies on the north side of the river, to the west of the Spicket. Lawrence is emphatically a manufacturing town, and its rise and rapid development are mainly due to the abundant water-power supplied by the dam across the Merrimack and distributed by a canal a mile long and 14 feet deep. This is the property of the Essex Company, which was incorporated in 1845, and spent $250,000 on the construction of the dam—a piece of granite masonry 1629 feet in length. The Bay State Woollen Mills (capital $2,000,000) and the Atlantic Cotton Mills (capital $1,800,000), both chartered in 1846, were the first great establishments to take advantage of the position. The Lawrence Duck Company and the Pacific Mills (capital $300,000 and $2,500,000) followed in 1853; the Washington Mills ($1,650,000), taking the place of the Bay State, in 1858; the Everett ($800,000) and the Pemberton Mills ($450,000) in 1860, the Lawrence Woollen Company in 1863, the Arlington in 1865. There are now eight large “corporations,” the largest of which, the Pacific Mills, alone employs 5800 operatives, and produces weekly 1,500,000 yards of cloth, printed or dyed. In 1880 the total number of looms in the cotton and woollen mills was 10,460, of spindles 345,988, and of operatives 12,124; and it is calculated that the average rate of production is 28,800,000 yards per week. The goods are of a varied description—broad cloth, fine flannels, shawls, pantaloon stuffs, felts, ticks, ginghams, &c. There are a number of large paper-mills in the town, as well as establishments for the manufacture of steam-engines, carriages, sewing machines, cordage, earthenware. Among the principal buildings and institutions may be mentioned the city hall (erected in 1847), the county court-house, the opera-house, the Oliver grammar school, and a public library (22,000 volumes). There are three public parks, one (17½ acres) in the heart of the city. Water works, deriving their supplies from the Merrimack, were opened in 1876 at a cost of $1,700,000; the people had previously depended on wells and cisterns for drinking water. The population in 1850 was 8232; in 1860, 17,669; in 1870, 28,921; in 1880, 39,178. Lawrence, so-called in honour of the Lawrence family of Boston, was incorporated as a town in 1847, and attained the rank of a city in 1853.