After leaving Methuen, the next municipality to the south, and on my way home was Lawrence. Now, if you live in Massachusetts, Lawrence has a particular reputation. It was a mill city that rose in the Industrial Revolution, and fell a bit afterwards. It’s always been a city of immigrants, and recently whenever Lawrence gets mentioned in the media, it’s usually for something bad. Either the major, school superintendent, or someone else has a corruption scandal, or it’s being ranked poorly in some sort of survey. I really hadn’t been there myself, so this was my opportunity to see for myself.
In the drive down from Methuen, you soon go from a somewhat suburban setting to an urban one, and I managed to drive through a lively neighborhood, which a lot of small stores (most of them with signs in Spanish) and lots of people out walking. I finally got to the urban center, which was a little less busy, I think partially as it had seen better days, and partial because if was a Sunday afternoon. I stopped and walked around and found myself going to the Common, and was really surprised to see a Civil War Reenactment happening! They had horses and the old tents, and they were demonstrating to the people there some old skills that people used to do 150 years ago. It was a really big surprise!
Lawrence seems like it’s very dynamic and always changing, as it’s one of the smallest (in land) cities in the Commonwealth, but since there have been waves and waves of new immigrants coming there as an initial destination, they are always rebuilding and trying new things, and maybe not having the benefit of people before them. This is the site of the Bread & Roses Strike of 1912, and you can see the mammoth mill buildings that are slowly being rehabilitated into living spaces.
One of the things that I did know about Lawrence is that it has an award-winning newspaper. The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune has been known as one of the best small regional papers in the country (although the offices are now outside of the city in North Andover.) As I went through the city, I saw that there were eagles on the street signs and there’s an eagle statue on the top of City Hall. It’s nice when you can put 2 + 2 together sometimes to make a connection!