People have always been drawn to rivers. They choose to
live, work and enjoy life in places fed by bountiful waters. The power
and promise of the Merrimack led to the settlement of the area near the
Pawtucket Falls by native peoples and to the founding of a new city in
the 19th century. The vision of a planned industrial community based on
the efficient production of textiles convinced a group of entrepreneurs
to acquire land around the falls in 1821. Naming the new community for
innovative industrialist Francis Cabot Lowell, the developers
constructed a massive complex of mills. By the 1840's, Lowell was the
second largest city in New England and the industrial center of
Lowell's accomplishments spurred competition from many river towns in the northeast; competition meant lower prices, which affected wages and working conditions. Eager to work, immigrants from central and southern Europe traveled to Lowell. These families, together with the Irish immigrants already present, provided the basis for Lowell's cultural and ethnic diversity.
Like many older American cities, Lowell has weathered significant economic change through much of the 20th century. By the 1980's, the city was experiencing a resurgence during the prevailing technological boom, as new companies began producing minicomputers, computer workstations, and plastics. This boom, coupled with the generous spirit of the city, welcomed a wave of newcomers from Southeast Asia, which provided a ready work force in an expanding economy. Also integral to the economic resurgence was Lowell's National Historical Park, established in 1978 as a tribute to Lowell's contributions to the Industrial Revolution.
Today Lowell offers an environment highly favorable to both relocating and emerging businesses. The city whose history is the source of its vitality has regained its position as a thriving commercial area.