There’s an item on boston.com today with video and a long article (the article is more informative) with questions and answers about touring Boston. As someone who has dealt with cultural tourism for a long time, I was interested in the answers people gave about what they did, what they liked, and how they saw Boston. Food, history, the Red Sox, architecture, shopping: these elements were mentioned most often. Read the feature by Nicole Cammorata, Meredith Goldstein, and Courtney Hollands here.
For as much as we do on the history front, we could do more with our history in Lowell. With the Lowell 175 Committee overseeing our celebration of the 175th anniversary of Lowell as an incorporated city, I’ve suggested that we look at how we can bring to life the history of well-known people who have been to Lowell: Abraham Lincoln, Davy Crockett, Maya Angelou, Dith Pran, Prince Charles, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Bill Clinton & Hillary Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush, Colin Powell, King Kalakaua of Hawaii, Alexander Graham Bell, and so many more. We could start with a walking trail with simple markers at places where these notable people have been so that anyone on the street could encounter this “little-did-you-know-type” info and stand in their past footsteps, so to speak. One tourist told boston.com, I want to have a drink where Washington had a drink.
The ambitious Charles Dickens project planned for 2012 picks up on his famous visit to Lowell in 1842 that he wrote about in his “American Notes.” The Dickens project includes an exhibit at the National Park Service’s Boott Cotton Mills Museum and many related programs. It’s modeled on the Kerouac “On the Road” scroll manuscript project in 2007, which brought more than 25,000 people to the city.
Still the best place to learn about these visitors is the now out-of-print “Cotton Was King: A History of Lowell” (1975, Lowell Historical Society and New Hampshire Publishing Co.), which includes Robert Dugan’s chapter “The Outsiders’ View: Visitors to the Industrial Showcase.” He provides an excellent summary. Maybe this chapter should be updated and reprinted as a pamphlet with a walking map.