Jowdy Geography Challenge 2017 (Lawrence, MA)


This post will take the city of Lawrence and divide it up into a variety of places that you should know about.

At the beginning (1845) there was the Merrimack River.  The Essex Company wanted to build a new industrial city.  It chose a section of the river called Bodwell’s Falls where there was a drop in elevation to build what would become The Great Stone Dam.  This dam was a marvel of engineering of the time.  It was 900 feet long and 35 feet wind at its base, made entirely of granite.  A piece of Andover and a piece of Methuen were taken on either side of the river.  These pieces would become north and south Lawrence.  The north canal was dug at the same time as the building of the dam.  Mills began to appear along the river and the canal.  One of the early mills was the Pemberton Mill on the canal. It collapsed in 1860 and caught on fire, but was rebuilt in 1863.

The City first grew up on the north side. Broadway ran north and south from Andover through Lawrence to Methuen.  It was originally called Turnpike Street and was part of the early Medford-Andover Turnpike.  The bridge on Broadway was first called the Andover Bridge, then the Falls Bridge, and the Broadway Bridge. Later it would be renamed the O’Leary Bridge after a hero of the 1st World War. The major commercial thoroughfare was Essex Street named after the County where the city is located.

The Lawrence Common was a gift to the Town of Lawrence by the Essex Company.  It is situated in north Lawrence and bounded by Haverhill, Lawrence, Jackson, and Common Streets.  The park is 17 acres and is now officially Campagnone Common named after three brothers who lost their lives during World War II. On the Common are two areas named after famous Lawrencians: The Robert Frost Fountain is named after the famous poet and LHS graduate of 1892 and is directly across from City Hall and The Bernstein Stage is toward the middle of the park and is named after Leonard Bernstein famous orchestra conductor and composer.  City Hall looks over the Common and is the seat of city government.  It was originally called the Town House when Lawrence was still a town.  Just east on Common Street at the corner of Jackson Street is Grace Episcopal Church, the city’s oldest church structure. Another church that is both very old (1872) and large is St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church.

Along Union Street runs the Everett Mill from Canal Street to General Street.  This is where the Bread and Roses Strike started in January of 1912.  The Lawrence Machine Shop is the building directly behind the Everett Mill.  It is made of stone and was built and originally run by the Essex Company.  The Union Street Bridge was first called the Lawrence Bridge and connected both side of Union Street.  It is also called the Duck Bridge due to the fact that a mill that wove duck cloth was located nearby.  The Essex Company offices are located at the corner of Union and Essex Streets.  This building is now owned by the Lawrence History Center.  Lawrence Heritage State Park is housed in an old boarding house at the corer of Canal and Jackson Streets.  Inside is a museum about the city and meeting rooms.  The newest institution located in this area is the Immigration and Naturalization Center where naturalization ceremonies have taken place.  Lawrence General Hospital is the only remaining hospital in Lawrence.  The State Armory was located on Methuen Street and served as the home of the National Guard in Lawrence.  It was torn down in the 1970s.   The Bay State Building is the tallest building in the city.  At the time it was built (1904) it was the tallest building north of Boston.  It is at the corner of Lawrence and Common Streets.

Prospect Hill is located in the East part of North Lawrence.  On it is located a water tower and Storrow Park, named after Lawrence’s first mayor.   On the west side of North Lawrence is Tower Hill.  On it is the Tower Hill Water Tower.  Its observation deck is the highest point in the city.  On a clear day one can see 60 miles.  Bellevue Cemetery is just below the water tower and is owned by the City.  The May Street Spring was available to the public until recently delivering fresh spring water. The Spicket River starts in Big Island Pond in New Hampshire feeding into the Merrimack in North Lawrence.  The plains used to refer to the flat residential area north of the Campagnone Common.

The Four-theaters-in-a-row became a place of interest in Ripley’s believe-it-or-not.  This entertainment area featuring a string of movie theaters located next to each other was located on the west side of Broadway.  Make right turn going south on Broadway at Water Street where the Boys and Girls Club is now was the location of O’Sullivan Park which was a ball field.   The Lawrence Millionaires played in the New England League at this field until the 1940s.

The Old High School is not the oldest Lawrence High School, but both the other buildings are gone now.  The building is still there and is used for a number of Lawrence public school students.  The original building is located at the corner of Lawrence and Haverhill Streets.  The Rollins School sits up on Prospect Hill and has a beautiful clock tower.  It is named after Civil War Hero, John R. Rollins, also a former mayor.  The Oliver School here on Haverhill Street is named after another early mayor, Henry K. Oliver.  The Old Library Building was designed by George Adams, noted local architect.  The building still stands on the corner of Franklin and Haverhill Streets.  The Present Lawrence Public Library was built in 1973.  It holds 200,000 volumes and is directly across the street from the Old High School.

The Casey Bridge connects Amesbury Street on the north with Parker Street on the south across the Merrimack.  It is also called the Central Bridge.  The South Branch Lawrence Public Library is located in a building on Parker Street across Bailey Street from Lawrence catholic Academy.  St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church is the biggest church in South Lawrence. It is located at the corner of Broadway and Salem Street.

The Shawsheen River starts in Bedford, Massachusetts and empties into the Merrimack River in South Lawrence.  The O’Connell South Common is named after Korean War veteran, Paul O’Connell.  It has baseball fields, a street hockey rink, and a bandstand.  The McGovern Transportation Center is a facility in South Lawrence that is the passenger depot for both train and bus public transportation.  The Lawrence Municipal Airport is in North Andover.

The Wood Mill is located on Union Street in South Lawrence.  The mill was originally two lengths that were 1/5 of a mile long.  It, along with the Ayer Mill, were parts of the American Woolen Company.  The Ayer Mill Clock Tower has the largest mill clock face in the world, six inches smaller in diameter than Big Ben in London.  Looming over South Lawrence is Interstate 495.  The bridge on this road over the Merrimack is called the O’Reilly Bridge after the Rev. James T. O’Reilly, former pastor of St. Mary’s Church.  Just to the right of Broadway on the South side of the river is an area that was originally called Shanty Pond.  Nearby is the William X. Wall Experiment Station which houses over 40 scientists, engineers, and support personnel in two organizational units of MassDEP — i.e., the Division of Environmental Analysis (DEA) within the Bureau of Policy and Planning, and the Air Assessment Branch (AAB) within the Bureau of Waste Prevention.  A bit further west is the Bashara Boathouse where local residents can take advantage of a variety of boats to sail on the Merrimack River.  The newest public school in Lawrence is Lawrence High School.  Its campus has six academies and is in South Lawrence.  On the campus of the high school is the Veterans’ Memorial Stadium.  It is recently renovated.   Den Rock Park  is just across I-495 and has a unique geological feature.  Sons of Israel Cemetery is one of the Jewish cemeteries in Lawrence.

Finally for those of you who do not know Lawrence has a flag.  The three white stripes represent the three rivers in the City.

One Response

  1. Thank you this was great! I didn’t grow up here. So it was fun to learn more about the city I have lived in for almost 50 yrs!

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