Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kerouac and cotton mills

Went back into Lowell yesterday - by car, not on foot! Checked out the commemorative park dedicated to Jack Kerouac who was from Lowell. Small park with marble (I think) triangular blocks inscribed with excerpts from his writings. It's not very well signposted but, if you're ever in the area, it's on Bridge Street, between Merrimack St and the green steel bridge.
Down the next street on the left is the Boott Mill Museum. Lowell is full of old cotton mills and this one has been preserved as a mill. Most of the others seem to have been turned into apartments, condominiums or parking lots. $6 to get in. A fascinating place I thought. Many of the machines still operate and give an excellent idea of what it must have been like to work in these places. Noisy and dangerous!
The museum is not just a history of the mill itself but also of the fortunes of Lowell as a whole - cotton manufacturing was the major industry here. While cotton was king the town prospered. But, like most single industry towns, it fell in a hole in the 20th century - and especially in the years after WW2. It seems to be largely a residential town now. Plus, there's the university (UMASS Lowell) so there's a fair student presence.
Interesting place to wander around.


No comments: