About This Place
Lowell is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA. According to the 2010 census, the city's population was 106,519. It is the fourth largest city in the state. Lowell and Cambridge are the county seats of Middlesex County. Lowell is known as the birthplace of the industrial revolution in the United States and many of the city's historic sites have been preserved by the National Park Service.
Founded in the 1820s as a planned manufacturing center for textiles, Lowell is located along the rapids of the Merrimack River, 30 miles northwest of Boston in what was once the farming community of East Chelmsford, Massachusetts. The so-called Boston Associates, including Nathan Appleton and Patrick Tracy Jackson of the Boston Manufacturing Company, named the new mill town after their visionary leader, Francis Cabot Lowell, who had died five years before its 1823 incorporation. As Lowell's population grew, it acquired more land from neighboring towns, and diversified into a full-fledged urban center. Many of the men who comprised the labor force for constructing the canals and factories had immigrated from Ireland, escaping the poverty and Potato Famines of the 1830s and 1840s. The mill workers, young single women called Mill Girls, generally came from the farm families of New England.
By the 1850s Lowell had the largest industrial complex in the United States. The textile industry wove cotton produced in the South. In 1860, there were more cotton spindles in Lowell than in all eleven states combined that would form the Confederacy. The city continued to thrive as a major industrial center during the 19th century, attracting more migrant workers and immigrants to its mills. Next were the Catholic Germans, then a large influx of French Canadians during the 1870s and 1880s. Later waves of immigrants included Portuguese, Polish, Lithuanians, Swedes, and eastern European Jews. They came to work in Lowell and settled in ethnic neighborhoods, with the city's population reaching almost 50% foreign-born by 1900. By the time World War I broke out in Europe, the city had reached its economic and population peak of over 110,000 people.