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Researching Lowell

What is The Acre?

"In 1822, about 30 male Irish laborers walked from Boston to the rural village of East Chelmsford to build the canals, factories, and boardinghouses that gave rise to the industrial city of Lowell. Some Irish men and women found employment in the textile factories and a few resided in boardinghouses or tenements. Many Irish men, however, continued to work as laborers and builders. They lived with their families in ramshackle wooden cabins in a swampy area on the outskirts of town known as the “Paddy Camp Lands” or “New Dublin.” Makeshift street patterns developed as the Irish settled alongside kinfolk and clan in ways that resembled settlement in their native counties."

-Lowell National Historical Park website


early lowell city street with hand written notes


This guide hosts databases which identify credible sources that can provide demographic data on the Acre, focusing on the boundaries used by the Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA).

It offers support to researchers interested in developing the best possible demographic profile of the Acre. 

The CBA emerged from an urban renewal plan in 1982 that would have leveled much of the Acre*. The community mobilized, beat the plan, then recognized that the opportunity for long-term improvement lay in coming up with their own plan. The CBA was a key partner. Here is the original Acre Plan (1999). 

*See also background.

Map of Lowell Neighborhoods

map showing lowell neighborhoods

Map courtesy of Matt's BlogAnother, (more detailed) map of Lowell's neighborhoods can be downloaded via this link: