More tours in Lowell

Yesterday’s New York Times carried a story about the soaring popularity to bus-borne guided tours conducted by the Hollywood gossip website, TMZ. Unlike the classic Hollywood tour that gave visitors a peek at Clark Gable’s swimming pool, the TMZ Tour shows you where Halle Berry totaled her car when she was arrested for DUI. This tour costs $49 per person and thousands partake in them, signalling, perhaps, a new and higher interest in on-the-ground visits to interesting places.

What about Lowell? Should we have more tours for visitors and residents to experience? I’m not talking salacious ones like TMZ’s; but there are a lot of interesting things happening or that have happened here in the city. The tours we give of Lowell Cemetery (see note below for schedule), have been very popular drawing up to 70 people at a time. Other walks through downtown built around the Civil War or public art have also been successful one-time events. True, the National Park offers a range of great tours, but maybe there’s more we can do. It’s probably something that, with a little collaboration and some infrastructure support, would add another interesting layer of things to do in an already interesting city.

NOTE: Lowell Cemetery tours this fall will take place on the following dates:

Friday, September 21, 2012 at 1 pm
Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 10 am
Friday, September 28, 2012 at 1 pm
Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 10 am

These tours all begin at the Knapp Avenue entrance to the cemetery, last about 90 minutes, involve a good deal of walking, are free, and are conducted rain or shine.

7 Responses to More tours in Lowell

  1. kad barma says:

    More tours is a great idea, but what’s wrong with salacious? There’s history on the street where the cops broke Mickey Ward’s hands before he became champion of the world. There’s history in the barrooms where Jack Kerouac did all his drinking. There’s history on the site where Edgar Allen Poe possibly bedded a Westford patroness. There’s real life in the real stories that sit behind the sanitized and too-often-boring version of our “proper” history, and nobody likes it dry like a textbook. Lowell is gritty. Lowell is dirty. Lowell is unpretentious. Let’s celebrate it all, and show it all off to the world. I’ve always found Lowell to be most beautiful because it never set out to be anything but what it is. I’d feel we’d miss the essence of that, and who we are, if we tried to soft-soap the salacious details.

  2. DickH says:

    I have nothing against salacious, it’s just that from the perspective of the one often giving the tours, if the behavior in question was by a person still living or whose immediate family is still living, then it can get a bit awkward. Fortunately, there was plenty of salaciousness in Lowell in the 19th century – such as Annie Richmond, the companion of Poe whom you cite. She is buried in Lowell Cemetery and while there is much written about their relationship. all seem to agree that there is no direct evidence that it went beyond the platonic. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen; just that there’s only very sketchy circumstantial evidence to support it.

  3. Bob Forrant says:

    Smart phone self guided walking tours would work too – download recorded info into your phone and then walk and look, walk and look, buy some food, and look some more! I’d work on putting together a labor history walk if there was any interest. Maybe for sometime in October?

  4. Jen Myers says:

    I was on the same tour as Sheila last year. It was awesome, but unfortunately cut short by bus trouble. I think using food as the catalyst to learn about history and culture is incredible effective. And delicious.

  5. kad barma says:

    Dick, I take your point about respect for the living, and agree entirely. I think Mickey Ward, and remarkably so, is as comfortable with his beginnings as he is with his achievements, and embodies the spirit I’m thinking, and which you articulate. Most are not quite as secure in themselves, and it’s respectful to remain respectful, so to speak. But I think knowing the human details of history make all of history more accessible, and I imagine those little tidbits that can be offered in the Cemetary tours are what make the full experience, more than if all that is discussed is the “official” history.

    I LOVE the idea of food tours. Even Manhattan doesn’t cram as much food diversity into the tiny area here in Lowell that features food from literally all the corners of the world. The nearest Lao restaurant of any repute beyond Phien’s Kitchen in the Highlands is in Manhattan. Where else but in Lowell can you get from the Carribean to East Africa to Southeast Asia to the Fertile Crescent to Japan to South America to Iberia to mainland Europe to everywhere in between while walking or riding just a few short blocks???