The city of Lowell was incorporated in 1826 to serve as a mill town, Lowell was named after Francis Cabot Lowell, a local figure in the Industrial Revolution. The city became known as the cradle of the American Industrial Revolution, due to a large series of textile mills and factories.
Beginning in the early 19th century, Lowell became a major center for textile manufacturing. This was possible due to the waterpower provided by the Pawtucket Falls of the Merrimack River.
In 1974, Lowell Heritage State Park was founded, and in 1978, Lowell National Historical Park was created as an urban national park, through legislation filed by Lowell native, congressman, and later senator Paul Tsongas. The canal system, many mills, and some commercial structures downtown were saved by the creation of the park and the visitors it brought. The National Park has continued to expand; many buildings are still being rehabilitated.
The Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell and LeLacheur Park were constructed in 1998. Lowell Devils hockey and Lowell Spinners baseball farm teams came to the city. National circuit entertainment is performed at the arena and at the old Lowell Memorial Auditorium. The Lowell Folk Festival, the largest free folk festival in the country, is an annual event.
After Massachusetts started offering a tax credit to those who film in the Commonwealth, a few movies have been made in Lowell. The Invention of Lying was released in September 2009, and shortly before, filming on The Fighter, about Lowell boxing legend Micky Ward and his older brother Dicky Eklund, was completed.
Lowell is home to UMass Lowell a public research university, it is part of the University of Massachusetts system and has been regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and
Colleges (NEASC) since 1975. With over 1,150 faculty members and over 18,000 students, it is the largest university in the Merrimack Valley and the second-largest public institution in the state.
It is also home to Middlesex Community College that was founded in 1970 and has grown to become one of the largest community colleges in Massachusetts, with two distinct campuses, one in suburban Bedford and the other in the center of the city of Lowell. As of the 2014-2015 academic year, MCC has a total annual enrollment of more than 13,000 credit students and 7,000 noncredit students.
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