Vincenzo's, 170 Concord Road, Chelmsford. (978) 256-1250.
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Stonehedge Inn, 160 Pawtucket Blvd., Tyngsboro. (978) 649-4400 or (888) 649-2474.
Lowell, the nation's first planned industrial city, was an early icon of America. One 19th-century foreign traveler was quoted that Niagara Falls and Lowell were the two things he would longest remember from his American journey, "the one the glory of American scenery, the other of American industry."
The city was born in 1822 after Boston merchant Francis Cabot Lowell had developed the power loom to manufacture not yarn but cloth. He and his successors needed power to set up factories, and discovered Lowell at the confluence of the Concord and Merrimack rivers. Impressed with the waterpower potential of the Pawtucket Falls, the Boston Associates launched construction of an entire company-planned town of textile mills, power canals and housing for young Yankee women and immigrant workers. By the 1830s, eight mill complexes employed 7,500 people where there had been nothing but a 30-foot waterfall a decade earlier. Visitors at the time were overwhelmed by the scale of the canal system and mills and impressed by the young female work force.
The state's fourth largest city, Lowell slumbered with the decline of its textile mills in the 20th century. It reawakened with the opening in 1978 of a National Historic Park, the nation's foremost tribute to the Industrial Revolution as well as the textile industry.
Although of great appeal to anyone into industrial history, labor conditions, the workings of canals and such, other interests are served as well. The New England Quilt Museum, 18 Shattuck St., the only quilt museum in the Northeast, features changing exhibitions. The Whistler House Museum of Art, 243 Worthen St., contains the Lowell Art Association's collection of New England art, which includes etchings by James McNeill Whistler, who was born in the house. The Jack Kerouac Commemorative honors the native son who became the best known of the "beat generation" writers.
Lowell National Historical Park, 246 Market St., Lowell.
Local boosters thought big and went national in the 1970s to rejuvenate a city fallen on hard times. The result a new kind of historical park is a living museum based on the city's industrial, ethnic and architectural heritage. The national park encompasses rehabilitated cotton mills, industrial exhibits, worker housing, 5.6 miles of canals and several museums. Start at the park visitor center, which includes exhibits and a twenty-minute film, "Lowell: The Industrial Revelation." Park rangers lead narrated tours year-round, and boat and trolley tours are offered several times daily in summer. Reproductions of the 1901 electric trolley cars operate from early March to late November, shuttling passengers from the visitor center to the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, where the noise and vibrations of 88 power looms in the 1910-era weave room shock visitors. They learn how raw cotton is turned into cloth and can try their hand at carding, spinning and weaving. Exhibits on the second floor detail the Industrial Revolution, the production process, the impact on workers, memories of a city in decline and a presentation on the Lowell of today. The museum also includes the Tsongas Industrial History Center, where visitors can weave cloth on a four- harness loom, test waterwheels and work on an assembly line. Nearby in one of 70 boarding houses built for workers is the Patrick J. Morgan Cultural Center. Here the park's Working People Exhibit testifies to the role of labor in the making of the nation. It begins with rooms furnished as they were when the original Yankee "mill girls" lived there. Other exhibits trace the diverse cultures of Lowell's immigrants and the rise of organized labor.
(978) 970-5000. Park open Monday-Saturday 9 to 5, Sunday 10 to 5, free. Boott Museum, $4. Boat and trolley tours by reservation, $6.
American Textile History Museum, 491 Dutton St., Lowell.
The world's largest and most comprehensive textile museum moved from North Andover in 1997 into a restored textile machinery factory beside a canal. The re-creation of a 1700s felting mill, an 1870s woolen mill and a working 1950s factory weave room show the changes over three centuries of textile production. The museum displays 300 different spinning wheels, countless hand-powered tools and equipment, costumes, and five million fabric samples. The museum shop sells high-quality fabric products, some handmade and others woven on the premises.
(978) 441-0400. Open Tuesday-Friday 9 to 4, Saturday-Monday 10 to 4. Adults, $5.