The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Lowell (city)

Edition of 1879. See also Lowell, Massachusetts on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

LOWELL, a city and one of the shire towns of Middlesex co., Massachusetts, the third in the state in point of population, situated on the Merrimack river, at the mouth of the Concord river, 25 m. N. W. of Boston; pop. in 1830, 6,474; in 1840, 20,796; in 1850, 33,383; in 1860, 36,827; in 1870, 40,928, of whom 14,435 were foreigners, including 9,103 natives of Ireland, 3,039 of British America (mostly French Canadians), and 1,697 of England. There were 7,649 families and 6,362 dwellings. The site of the city has many inequalities, but the streets are regularly laid out, and are well paved, sewered, and lighted with gas. The principal public buildings are the court house, the city hall, the school houses, of which 15 are of brick, and the churches; and there are many elegant residences. The village of Belvidere in the E. part is the handsomest portion of the city. There are several public squares, some of which are handsomely laid out and ornamented; and in one of them is a monument erected to the memory of Ladd and Whitney, who fell in the attack upon the sixth Massachusetts regiment in Baltimore, April 19, 1861. The cemetery in the S. part of the city is well situated and handsomely laid out. Street cars accommodate local travel. The railroads centring here are the Boston and Lowell, Lowell and Nashua, Lowell and Lawrence, Stony Brook, Salem and Lowell, Framingham and Lowell, and Lowell and Andover (in progress). Lowell was long the leading cotton manufacturing city of the country, but it is now surpassed by Fall River in the number of spindles. The Pawtucket falls in the Merrimack, which has here a descent of 30 ft., are the source of its prosperity. The water power is owned by a corporation, styled “the proprietors of the locks and canals on Merrimack river,” chartered in 1792, the stock of which is owned by the manufacturing companies. It leases to the companies water power to the amount of about 10,000 horse power. The canal around the falls, originally intended for navigation, was purchased and devoted to manufacturing purposes in 1821. It was enlarged and a new one built in 1847. The Wamesit power company controls and leases to manufacturers the water power on the Concord river, amounting to about 500 horse power. The capital invested in manufactures is upward of $16,000,000; number of mills, &c., 80; number of looms, 15,189; of spindles, 678,521; hands employed, about 16,000 (6,000 males and 10,000 females); yards of cotton goods made per week, 2,660,000; of woollens, 60,000; of carpeting, 37,500; of shawls, 2,500; dozen of hosiery, 16,800; lbs. of cotton consumed, 780,000; of clean wool, 152,500; yards dyed and printed per annum, 64,951,200; steam engines employed, 50, of 6,188 horse power. The following table shows the condition of the nine principal cotton and woollen manufacturing companies in January, 1874:

 going into 
Capital. Number of mills. Looms. Spindles.  Operatives.  CONSUMED PER
Yards of
per week.


Merrimack manufacturing company  1828 $2,500,000     5 and print works  2,583  135,000  2,500  85,000  ....  490,000 
Hamilton company 1825 1,200,000     5 and print works 1,546  51,268  1,285  85,000  ....  280,000 
Appleton company 1828 600,000     1 764  27,088  520  70,000  ....  160,000 
Lowell company 1828 2,000,000     4 865  22,516  1,450  4,000  70,000  37,000 
Middlesex company 1830 750,000     4 and dye houses  230  16,400  815  ....  25,000  23,000 
Tremont and Suffolk mills 1882 1,200,000     4 2,196  93,968  1,400  100,000  ....  380,000 
Lawrence company 1883 1,500,000     5 and dye houses 2,260  90,000  1,630  165,000  1,000  400,000 
Boott cotton mills 1836 1,200,000     6 2,368  111,872  1,875  110,000  ....  460,000 
Massachusetts cotton mills 1840 1,800,000     6 2,509  93,087  1,310  150,000  ....  470,000 

Total  $12,750,000   40  14,821   641,199   12,785   769,000   96,000   2,700,000 

The Merrimack company also dyes and prints 545,600 yards per week, and the Hamilton 415,000. The Lawrence company has 550 knitting machines, and produces 12,000 dozen of cotton and merino hosiery per week. The Appleton company put a second mill in operation during 1874, which added 33 per cent. to its business. The Lowell company produces carpets, serges, and lastings; the Middlesex, beavers, ladies' sackings, opera flannels, cassimeres, and shawls; the other companies, print cloths, drillings, sheetings, shirtings, &c. Each company owns from 20 to 30 dwellings, which are leased at a nominal rent to responsible persons as boarding houses for the hands employed in the factories. Some of them are large enough to accommodate 40 or 50 inmates. None but operatives are allowed to board in them, and the sexes are kept separate. The corporations also provide a hospital in which workpeople find attendance in sickness, for which, if they be unable to pay, the employers are responsible. The Lowell bleachery, incorporated in 1832, has a capital of $300,000, and employs 400 hands, dyeing 15.000,000 yards and bleaching 10,000,000 lbs. per annum. The Lowell machine shop, incorporated in 1845, has a capital of $600,000, employs 1,100 hands, and manufactures cotton and paper machinery, turbine wheels, machinists' tools, hydraulic presses, force pumps, &c. Ayer's patent medicines are manufactured here. Among the smaller establishments are manufactories of hair felt, bolts, nuts, and screws, elastic goods, fixed ammunition and cartridges, belting and hose, bobbins, boilers, boxes, brass ware, woodworking machinery, cabinet ware, carriages, chemicals, sash, doors, and blinds, drain pipe, edge tools, files, wire goods, paper, reeds and harnesses, &c. There are six national banks, with an aggregate capital of $2,350,000; six savings banks, with deposits in 1873 amounting to $10,233,562 43; and two insurance companies.—The city is divided into six wards, and is governed by a mayor, a board of aldermen of 8 and a common council of 24 members. It has a well equipped fire department, and an efficient police force with a police court. The water works, constructed at a cost of $1,265,000, went into operation in January, 1873. The assessed value of property in 1874 was $36,762,005; taxation, including tax on polls, $607,705 91, of which $38,580 was for state and $26,400 11 for county purposes; total expenditures of the city in 1873, $1,218,205 55, including $133,440 68 for schools, $42,661 51 for school houses, $144,257 05 for roads and bridges, $23,069 60 for paupers, $45,072 50 for police, $37,309 91 for fire department, $65,575 66 for sewers and drains, $18,350 92 for lighting streets and public buildings, $18,247 91 for salaries, $46,827 02 for payment of and interest on the city debt, and $349,717 87 for the water works. The city debt, Jan. 1, 1874, amounted to $1,937,500. The value of property belonging to the city was $2,413,235 23. The charitable institutions are the almshouse, which has a farm connected with it, a free dispensary, an association for aiding the worthy poor, an old ladies' home, a young women's home, St. John's hospital, and an orphan asylum under the charge of the sisters of charity. The number of school houses belonging to the city at the close of 1873 was 34; number of schools, 64 (1 high, 9 grammar, and 54 primary); number of teachers, 120, of whom 11 were males; average number of scholars enrolled during the year, 5,082; average daily attendance, 4,623; number of children between 5 and 15 years of age, 6,728. There were also four evening schools, with 39 teachers and an average attendance of 341. The whole amount expended for teachers' wages during the year was $100,479 43. There are also several Roman Catholic schools. The city library contains 17,000 volumes, and the mechanics' library 13,000. Three daily, one semi-weekly, and four weekly newspapers are published. There are 29 churches, viz.: 4 Baptist, 6 Congregational, 2 Episcopal, 2 Freewill Baptist, 4 Methodist, 1 Presbyterian, 5 Roman Catholic (1 French), 1 Second Advent, 1 Unitarian, 2 Universalist, and 1 free chapel.—Lowell was set off from Chelmsford and incorporated as a town in 1826, and as a city in 1836. Portions of Chelmsford, Tewksbury, and Dracut have been since annexed. It had its origin in 1821, and was named after Francis C. Lowell of Boston. The population in 1874 was estimated at 50,000, a large accession having been received by annexation of territory during that year.