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In January 1842 Charles Dickens came to Boston and in the last few days, in February, before he moved on to Pennsyvania, he was invited by Lowell to visit Lowell's cotton mills. In Chapter 4 of his book "American Notes", which he published later that year, he described the rail journey from Boston to Lowell. The orginal line to Lowell was built by the Boston and Lowell Railroad on granite blocks - it shook the engines and carriages so much and was such an uncomfortable ride that shortly before Dickens arrived the track had been relaid on wooden sleepers. When I made the trip to Lowell I felt I was reliving an 1842 journey.
Written Jan 7, 2006
Second World is a small shop in downtown Lowell, so small in fact that you might miss it as you pass by. But in spite of its small size, Second World does a large job. They specialize in the sale of artwork and handcrafted items created by the indigenous people of underdeveloped nations. The profits earned by the sale of these items goes back into the economies of the people who created them, helping to sustain their families, communities, and ways of life.
What to buy: Among the items for sale at Second World are paintings from Brazil, quilts from Peru, handcrafted jewelry from India, and many Native American and Guatemalan craft items. Second World also sponsors cultural events in the city featuring musicans from around the globe, foreign films, folk dancers from Ireland and Africa among other far flung locations, and urban Amercian rap and perfomance artists. They have a performance space below their store. Some of the events are held outdoors as well.
Written Aug 28, 2004
Address: 172 Middle St., Unit 107, Lowell, MA 01852
About 25% of Lowell's population is Southeast Asian, mainly Cambodians who came to the city as refugees from the Khmer Rouge as well as their children and grandchildren. Most of them emigrated here in the 70's and 80's as part of a massive rescue effort by local non-profit organizations, but today many people still come to Lowell from several countries in Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand) who are attracted by Lowell's well-established Southeast Asian community or who have relatives here.
The Cambodian New Year, which is observed in mid-April every year, has become a city-wide celebration. There are dances, parades, and festivals open to the public as well as many, many private parties and events. Cambodian people will often set out altars at the New Year in honor of thier ancestors. These usually contain things that that ancestors like to eat and drink as well as candles and other small items. The altar pictured here is one that my neighbors put out every year. They were nice enough to allow me to photograph it.
Written Apr 15, 2005
Though Lowell has come a long way since the early 90's when drugs, gang violence, and prositution were common, it is a city and like in all cites occasional crimes take place. It is best not to carry large amounts of cash and to remember to always lock your car, even if you will only be gone for a minute. Walking to and from downtown parking garages late at night is best done in pairs. Police patrols are frequent in all parts of the city, especially on weekends.
Written Apr 1, 2004