Lawrence 1876

Lawrence 1876

This map shows the transformations that the Essex Company made to what was farmland thirty years earlier. Can you spot the major differences? Compare this map with the 1845 one. From the stone dam a canal was constructed to the north of the Merrimack River to carry water to the mills. It eventually empties back out to the river. The mile-long North Canal, dug by Essex Company laborers, provided greater space for manufacturers to position their mills parallel to the river on what appears to be an ‘island’ across the lower portion of the map. “And all along the river’s banks, merchants, peddlers, blacksmiths, and machinists set up shop….” (Bruce Watson, Bread and Roses, p. 34).

The map also shows how the Essex Company laid out the city, which by 1848 and grown from a small number of farmers to nearly six thousand people, more than a third were Irish. Blocks of residential neighborhoods, vast expanses of industrial space, long commercial boulevards such as Essex St, and a meticulously planned park are visible. You can also see how all roadways out of the neighborhoods lead workers over the bridges over the North Canal and into the mills. These bridges became highly contested spaces during the strike. By 1876 Lawrence was a city of 35,000 people.