The mill cities along the Merrimack River should promote themselves in clusters like the Civil War sites in the South. Why can’t our region become a multi-day destination for visitors the way heritage sites or natural attractions in other parts of the country present themselves? Manchester, New Hampshire, looks good these days. The downtown has a busy urban feeling on Elm Street. There are more than 30 restaurants of all kinds in about six blocks of mid-town. As in Lowell, you can eat in a different country every night of the week. There’s a free shuttle bus called the Green Dash with pick-ups every ten minutes to encourage activity in the downtown. The Currier Museum of Art, a few blocks from the main street, is one of the best small museums in New England. What the museum leaders did with an expansion project would be worth looking at when we think about the future of the Whistler House Museum of Art and its Parker Gallery. There’s a Franco-American Center and a Science Center with a huge LEGO display in the Amoskeag Millyard District. I can imagine some collaborative programming between Lowell and Manchester. Like the Freedom Trail in Boston, there ought to be something like the Red-Brick Mill Run from Manchester through Nashua, Lowell, and Lawrence, to Haverhill and even Newburyport to catch that piece of the river valley story.
Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, N.H.