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LOWELL, the twenty-seventh city in population of the United States, in Middlesex county, Massachusetts, at the junction of the Concord and Merrimack rivers, 26 miles north-west from Boston. It is often called the “Spindle City,” and the “Manchester of America,” because of the extent of its cotton manufacture. The principal source of its water-power is Pawtucket Falls in the Merrimack, and steam is employed as an auxiliary to the amount of 19,793 horse-power. The first cotton-mill was started in 1823, when the place was the village of East Chelmsford. In 1826 it was made a town, and named Lowell in memory, of Francis Cabot Lowell, from whose plans it had been developed, but who died in 1817. It was incorporated as a city in 1836. It originally comprised 2885 acres, but by annexation from neighbouring towns its area has been increased to 7615 acres, or 11.8 square miles. The population, which in 1836 was 17,633, was 40,928 in 1870, and 59,485 in 1880 (males, 26,855; females, 32,630), and in 1882 was estimated at 64,000.

The following table shows the extent of the principal manufacturing companies in 1882:—

Company.  Established.  Looms. Spindles.  Operatives.   Yards per 
Week.






 Merrimack 1823  4,267   153,552  3,300   947,000 
 Hamilton 1825 1,597  59,816  1,387  364,000 
 Appleton 1828 1,228  45,000  820  285,000 
 Lowell 1828 392  24,750  1,700  48,000 
 Middlesex 1830 250  18,640  836  25,000 
 Tremont and Suffolk  1832 2,700  94,000  1,500  550,000 
 Lawrence 1833 2,360  100,000  2,130  425,000 
 Booth 1836 3,600  127,000  1,875  650,000 
 Massachusetts 1840 3,658  119,598  1,717  907,000 

The capital invested is $17,300,000; number of mills, 153; spindles, 806,000; looms, 20,521; females employed, 12,809; males, 9750; yards per year, cotton 209,056,000, woollen 8,335,000, carpetings 2,700,000; shawls, 350,000; hosiery per year, 13,695,520 pairs; cotton consumed annually, 34,087 tons; clean wool, 11,750,000 ℔; yards cotton dyed and printed, 97,240,000; coal consumed, 80,000 tons. There are many secondary industries connected with the cotton manufacture, including the making of machinery, elastic and leather goods, tools, boilers, &c., and also a number of small factories for the production of cartridges, chemicals, wire cloth, paper, doors, sashes, blinds, and carriages. The Lowell machine-shop employs 1400 men in the manufacture of machinery, and consumes 9800 tons of iron and steel annually. Lowell has 90 public day schools, 6 evening and 4 technical schools, a reform school, and 2 parochial schools. The principal public buildings are the city-hall, court-house, Middlesex county jail, Green school-house, and St John's Hospital. There are 7 national banks with a total capital of $2,500,000, and 6 savings banks with deposits of $11,000,000. The religious congregations number 35, all but three of which own their places of worship. The two largest Roman Catholic churches, St Patrick's and the Church of the Immaculate Conception, are among the finest in the State. Seven railroads connect Lowell with the railroad system of the country. The benevolent institutions include a home for young women and children, and one for aged women, 2 orphanages, and 3 hospitals. There are 2 reading-rooms, 5 daily newspapers (one French), 6 weeklies, and 4 public libraries. Lowell was early famed for the high character of its operatives, who for some years published a periodical of considerable literary merit called The Lowell Offering, which was, it is believed, the only publication of the kind ever sustained by workpeople. Many of the young women rose to positions of prominence in American society, and at least one, Miss Lucy Larcom, is known to readers on both sides of the Atlantic by her contributions to leading magazines.

In 1843 Charles Dickens visited the place, and devoted a chapter of his American Notes to its praise. The manufacturers have from the first provided for the moral and social as well as the physical wellbeing of their operatives, so that labour troubles have been exceedingly rare in Lowell. The corporation boarding-houses are model dwellings for the workpeople. The first blood shed in the American civil war was that of two Lowell young men, Luther C. Ladd and A. O. Whitney, who were killed by a mob while their regiment was passing through the streets of Baltimore, on the way to the defence of Washington, April 19, 1861. In their honour a granite monument has been erected in Merrimack Street, and in the same enclosure is a bronze statue of Victory by the German sculptor Rauch to commemorate the triumph of the Northern cause.

The assessed valuation in May 1881 was $42,785,434 (an increase of $3,108,035 since 1879); the net debt December 31, 1881, was $1,992,868, of which $1,565,539 was on account of the introduction of water in 1873. Lowell is divided into six wards, and is governed by a mayor, a board of eight aldermen, and a common council of twenty-four members.