When Lowell National Historical Park was signed into law in 1978, people involved with creating it often talked about how it would be a different kind of Park because Lowell is a “living city” and wasn’t about to be frozen in time for tourism. The Park is the city, and the city is the Park, is one way of saying it. The Lowell experience wasn’t going to be about a moment, even a long 19th-century moment, in time. It would be about “change over time,” as historian Bob Weible described it.
In today’s NYTimes, regular contributor Tim Egan, who specializes in subjects from the western U.S., writes about a special National Park in Arizona, Canyon de Chelly National Monument to be precise ( “de Chelly” he explains is pronounced “de shays.”) His description of the “living” quality of the Park with is contemporary Navajo society and layers of culture on view everywhere in a stunning landscape reminded me of the way the Park exists all around us in Lowell. This is never more apparent than on Lowell Folk Festival weekend, coming up at the end of July—the 25th anniversary festival.