The Downtown Lowell Anti-Slavery and Underground Railroad District is located at the Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack River. These 34 Sites are presented with brief descriptions and links to the Lowell Cultural Resources Inventory Reports, Related Stories and Web Maps. Guided by these maps, one can take a walk through the City while learning our history.
In the 1840s and 1850s, Lowell seemed an unlikely community for freedom seekers, assistants, and safe-places on the Underground Railroad. However, this busy northern textile center with its small black community dominating the local barber shops and hairdressing salons, three anti-slavery societies, half a dozen anti-slavery churches, several abolitionist newspapers, and established railroads and stage routes to Canada provided a good location.
Although the stories of some freedom seekers have been preserved, including Nathaniel Booth, Weston Fisher, and Edwin Moore who stopped and settled in Lowell, the number of slaves that passed through Lowell on their way to freedom will never be fully known.
Many of the pre-Civil War commercial buildings and churches in the Downtown Lowell District affiliated with Lowell’s Underground Railroad have survived.
Map 1 Begins on Market Street at the site of the Lowell Manufacturing Company which produced high-end broadloom carpets. The route moves on to stories of Freedom Seekers and their assistants, black owned local businesses, anti-slavery newspapers and churches.
Map 2 Takes us through the Boott Manufacturing complex, whose female textile workers, managers, and investors supported the anti-slavery movement, meeting halls where pleas for support from leading abolitionists were heard, and on to Ladd and Whitney Monument and Memorial Hall, reminders of the terrible conflict of the Civil War.
Map 1. Downtown Lowell Anti-Slavery and Underground Railroad District, Sites 1-15, overlaid on the City atlas of Lowell, Massachusetts, 1879, by Griffith Morgan Hopkins Jr., (Publisher) (Cartographer), F. Bourquin (Frederick), b. 1808 (Lithographer). Plates D. UMass Lowell Libraries, Center for Lowell History, Atlas Collection.
Map 2. Downtown Lowell Anti-Slavery and Underground Railroad District Sites, 16-35, overlaid on the City atlas of Lowell, Massachusetts, 1879, by Griffith Morgan Hopkins Jr., (Publisher) (Cartographer), F. Bourquin (Frederick), b. 1808 (Lithographer). Plate B with detail from Plate A lower right. UMass Lowell Libraries, Center for Lowell History, Atlas Collection.