Bounded by the Merrimack Canal and adjacent to Lowell High School, with an historic trolley passing along the canal bank, Lucy Larcom Park is a year-round gathering place. It hosts activities during the Lowell Folk Festival, Winterfest, and other annual events. It also home to Lowell’s weekly Farmer’s Market. The Merrimack Canal once generated power for Lowell’s largest mill. The loss of adjacent boarding houses is credited with starting the city’s preservation movement.
The park’s namesake, Lucy Larcom, is remembered as a mill girl, schoolteacher, author, and abolitionist. In her time she published 15 works of poetry and writing. Most enduring of which is her 1889 memoir, “A New England Girlhood”. You can read more about Lucy Larcom here.
Lucy Larcom Park is home to the public art piece Industry, Not Servitude – five sculptural elements created by artist Ellen Rothenberg. These pieces pay tribute to Larcom and the other women of the Lowell Female Labor Association, who organized for fair treatment and improved working conditions in Lowell’s mills.
Examples of similar park areas that contribute to the vitality of urban life (allowing for differences in scale) are the Navy Pier in Chicago, Bryant Park in New York City, and the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas.
Eight hundred feet of the Merrimack Canal is illuminated daily through dozens of colorful LED lights. The light program changes seasonally, for various holidays, and can also be tied to music. Debuted during the 2016 Winterfest, these canal lights were the first of their kind in the City of Lowell, it was a shining example of the potential of Lowell’s waterways and brought new life to Lucy Larcom Park.
The lighting of the Merrimack Canal strengthened the natural gathering and event space that Lucy Larcom Park has become. With this, the Initiative’s priorities are to support and collaborate with others who host events and activities in this space.
In addition, the Lowell Waterways Vitality Initiative will look to:
- Seek opportunities to integrate the Lowell High School development project, and its students, with lighting and cultural activities.
- Collaborate with stakeholders to explore and develop winter recreational activities, such as ice skating on the Merrimack Canal.