The Revival of Lowell, Massachusetts

In the early ’90s, the Massachusetts city of Lowell had a reputation for drug and gang issues. It has since seen a cultural revival with the inception of the annual Lowell Folk Festival and a vibrant art scene. GoNOMAD editorial assistant Kaitlyn Silva describes some of Lowell’s best attractions, including the historic mills museum. Enjoy the excerpt below:

Between roughly 1840 and 1870, Lowell’s textile mills made the city a veritable hot spot for young immigrants who traveled to America in search of work. The young generation of mostly Irish settlers struggled to make a living in what was then known as the town of East Chelmsford, living on mere pennies a day. For $6 per adult and $4 per child, the Boott Cotton Mills Museum in downtown Lowell allows visitors experience the immigrants’ work and trials on location. The pulse-pounding noise of the fully functional weaving room is enough to make your heart reach out to the women who worked there for roughly 12 hours a day, but the museum is more than that.

Photography and video documentaries show children with dirty faces and hard-working young women surrounded by the city‘s original backdrop of cobblestone streets and brick buildings.

Through a prop-filled, interactive boarding house, the museum tells a story of the immigrant’s path and the human condition that many native citizens take for granted.

If you’ve got a flair for textiles, downtown Lowell is also home to the American Textile History Museum and the New England Quilt Museum, both of which offer a look into the evolution of the art. Each museum also offers specialized classes that vary in price, usually ranging between $30 and $100.