The Utopia Commercial
WELCOME TO LOWELL, Massachusetts, 1833—glittering jewel of early American industrialism and home to its largest factories. Imagine it is quitting time—the fourteen-hour day over. Thousands of women spilled out of the factories, walking two at a time with interlinked arms. Their dresses and faces were clean. They wore bonnets and twirled green and blue parasols as they streamed out of red-brick textile mills as big as the White House.
Lowell was a “commercial Utopia,” a vision of industrialization minus most of the bad stuff. The city of spindles was one of the most famous cities of the nineteenth century, and visitors came to see it from far and wide, including Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Henry David Thoreau, ...