About the City

Located twenty-five miles north of Boston, Lawrence, Massachusetts is truly a city of immigrants and industry. Lawrence was built in the 1840s as the nation's first planned industrial city. The massive mill buildings lining the Merrimack River, the striking clock and bell towers and the breath-taking Great Stone Dam are all a tribute to Lawrence's industrial heritage. The harnessed strength of the Merrimack River and its system of canals fueled the Lawrence mills that produced textiles for the American and European markets. By the early twentieth century, with a population of nearly 95,000, the city was a world leader in the production of cotton and woolen textiles in massive mills.

Immigrant Population

Known as the "Immigrant City," Lawrence has always been a multi-ethnic and multicultural gateway city with a high percentage of foreign-born residents. The successive waves of immigrants coming to Lawrence to work in the mills began with the Irish, followed by the French Canadians, Englishmen, and Germans in the late 1800s. Around the turn of the century and early 1900s, Italians, Poles, Lithuanians, and Syrians began arriving. The wave of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans started in the mid to late 1900s, and the newest arrivals have originated from Vietnam and Cambodia. The current population of roughly 70,000 is largely Hispanic and has given a Latino slant to the local economy and culture.


Today Lawrence remains an urban center with 35% of its economy still manufacturing-based. Despite global trends that have seen manufacturing industries move south and overseas, the city is still a hub of textile, apparel and shoe companies such as:

  • Cardinal Shoe
  • Grieco Brothers
  • KGR Inc.
  • Malden Mills
  • New Balance

With the affordable space and close proximity to routes 93 and 495, newer companies in technology, health care and manufacturing such as New England Affiliated Technology, the Robert Able Company and the Gem Group, have chosen to locate in Lawrence. For more information on Business Opportunities, visit our Community Development Department.

Local Businesses

High quality health care is available at Lawrence General Hospital, offering a full range of medical and emergency services. The Pulitzer Prize winning daily newspaper, The Eagle Tribune, has its roots in Lawrence. Northern Essex Community College in Lawrence offers a full array of associate degree programs and adult education programs.


The level of energy and commitment in the city's neighborhoods exceeds that of most communities. Whether it is exemplified at the grassroot levels in the strong neighborhood associations or in the community policing program. People in the community have created a safer place to live and work.

Parks & Recreation

In addition, Lawrence offers recreational, historical and cultural attractions. The Lawrence Community Boating Program allows the city's youth and adults to sail on the rolling waters of the Merrimack. The Lawrence Heritage State Park is a 23-acre historic preservation of urban life that records the history of immigrant workers and life in a mill town. The city also boasts art exhibitions at Essex Art Center and hosts a wide range of cultural activities like ethnic festivals that celebrate the diversity and rich heritage of Lawrence.