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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Lawrence (Massachusetts)

LAWRENCE, a city and one of the shire towns of Essex co., Massachusetts, situated on both sides of the Merrimack river, here crossed by two bridges, about 26 m. from its mouth, 22 m. N. of Boston, and 10 m. N. E. of Lowell; pop. in 1850, 8,282; in 1860, 17,639; in 1870, 28,921, of whom 12,717 were foreigners. There were 5,287 families and 3,443 dwellings. The Spicket river crosses the N. portion of the city and falls into the Merrimack, and the Shawsheen forms a portion of the S. and E. boundary. Near the centre of the N. section of the city is a common of 17½ acres, ornamented with a fountain, the water for which is supplied by a reservoir on Prospect hill, an eminence 140 ft. high. In the S. section are Union square and a trotting park. The city cemetery is in the N. W. part of the N. section. The principal public buildings are the county court house, county jail, city hall, high school building, masonic temple, music hall, and odd fellows' hall.

AmCyc Lawrence (Massachusetts) - City Hall.jpg

City Hall, Lawrence.

Railroad communication is furnished by the Boston and Maine, the Eastern, the Manchester and Lawrence, and the Lowell and Lawrence lines, and horse cars run to the adjoining towns. The industry of Lawrence is chiefly devoted to cotton and woollen manufactures. Water power is collected by a dam across the Merrimack, built in 1845-'8 at a cost of $250,000. It is a granite structure 1,629 ft. long, 35 ft. thick at the base, 12 ft. thick at the crown, and 40½ ft. high at the deepest part of the river. The basin formed by it extends back 9 m. to Hunt's falls at Lowell. At the source of the Merrimack in Lake Winnipiseogee there is also a dam with locks for regulating the supply of water to Lowell and Lawrence, and providing against droughts. The distributing canal, 1 m. long, 12 ft. deep, 100 ft. wide at the head and 60 ft. wide at the mouth, is on the N. side of the river; its cost, including locks, was $200,000. These works were constructed by the Essex company, incorporated in 1845, which still controls them, selling and leasing mill sites. The statistics of the principal cotton and woollen manufacturing establishments appear in the following table:

CORPORATIONS. Date of
 incorporation. 
Capital.  No. of looms.   Spindles.   Operatives.   Yards manufactured 
per week.







Atlantic cotton mills 1846 $1,500,000  1,800  87,000  1,250 430,000
Lawrence duck company 1853 300,000    70   8,000   250  25,000
Pacific mills 1853 2,500,000  3,672 136,609  4,299  80,000
Washington mills 1858 1,650,000  1,265  61,560  2,900 ......
Everett mills 1860 800,000   788  33,000  1,060 135,000
Pemberton company 1860 450,000   669  28,000   850 100,000
Lawrence woollen company  1863 150,000   40 (broad)  .....   120 ......
Arlington woollen mills 1865 240,000   330   4,480   350 ......






Total ....  $7,590,000  8,634 358,649 11,079 ......

The Pacific mills have extensive print works, and the Washington mills a large dye house. The Atlantic mills manufacture sheetings and shirtings; the Pacific mills, calicoes, shirtings, lawns, delaines, alpacas, serges, and other worsted dress goods; the Washington mills, cambrics, shawls, broadcloths, doeskins, opera flannels, and other worsted goods; the Everett mills, cotton fancy cassimeres, ginghams, poplins, pantaloons stuffs, and dress goods; the Pemberton company, a variety of cotton and woollen goods; the Arlington mills, ladies' worsted and cotton dress goods. There is a variety of other manufactories, including one of cordage, four of leather belting, one of cloth boots and shoes, two of cabinet ware, five of carriages, one of earthenware, one of files, one of screws, one of linen hose, six of paper, a brass foundery, and several machine shops, turning out steam engines and boilers, cotton machinery, &c. The city contains three national banks, with an aggregate capital of $725,000, and three savings banks, with deposits in 1873 amounting to $3,768,483 21. It is divided into six wards, is governed by a mayor, with a board of aldermen of one member and a common council of three members from each ward, and has a police force and a fire department. Water works, to supply the city from the Merrimack, are in process of construction. The assessed value of property in 1873 was $21,715,362; total taxation, $362,827 80, including $37,581 70 for state and county purposes. The expenditures for city purposes amounted to $336,150 28, the largest items of which were $40,683 83 for streets, $59,164 63 for schools, $19,386 66 for salaries, $19,351 78 for paving, $14,851 25 for fire department, and $28,078 31 for police. The net debt at the close of the year was $432,988 59. There are an almshouse, a Catholic orphan asylum, a city mission, and an industrial school. The public schools are graded and in a flourishing condition. The number of children of school age in 1873 was 5,141; number of schools, 59 (1 high, 22 grammar, 1 mixed, 12 middle, 23 primary); of teachers and sub-teachers, 88; pupils enrolled, 4,000; average attendance, 2,500. Evening schools are opened during the winter. There are also Catholic schools attended by about 1,200 pupils. The public library contains about 14,000 volumes; the library of the Pacific mills, 6,000; and there is a circulating library, with 3,000 volumes. Two daily and four weekly newspapers are published, and there are 21 churches, viz.: 2 Baptist, 5 Congregational, 2 Episcopal, 1 Freewill Baptist, 3 Methodist, 1 Presbyterian, 5 Roman Catholic (1 French), 1 Unitarian, and 1 Universalist.—The town of Lawrence was incorporated in 1847, its territory being taken from the towns of Methuen and North Andover. The village had previously been known as Merrimack or New City, and it took its present name in honor of its principal founders, the Lawrence family of Boston, the chief members of the Essex company, which had been chartered shortly before for the erection of the dam and other manufacturing purposes. It was made a city in 1853. On Jan. 10, 1860, the main building of the original Pemberton company, built in 1853, while the machinery was in motion, suddenly fell without warning, and a conflagration soon afterward broke out in the ruins. Of 700 persons in the building at the time, 77 were killed and 134 injured, of whom 14 subsequently died. The cause of the disaster was the faulty construction of the iron pillars which supported the floor timbers, and lack of adhesive power in the mortar.