On the second floor of the National Park Service’s Boott Cotton Mills Museum, the history exhibition opens with a quote from the writings of Lucy Larcom—poet, memoirist, and editor. The quote captures her sense of the burgeoning industrial city when she was a girl in Lowell in the 1830s and ’40s. I like the way this passage frames Early Lowell as a place of creativity, invention, innovation, experimentation, and imagination. Lowell was where “new” showed up. We have that atmosphere to a degree today. It was “new” to preserve the best of our past and make something valuable of it. Now we must protect that and go forward making and doing new things.—PM
Now all was expectancy. Changes were coming. Things were going to happen, nobody could guess what.
—Lucy Larcom, “A New England Girlhood” (1889)