Lawrence, Massachusetts

Lawrence is a city located in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States, on the Merrimack River. At the 2020 census, the city had a population of 89,143.[2] Surrounding communities include Methuen to the north, Andover to the southwest, and North Andover to the east. Lawrence and Salem were the county seats of Essex County, until the state abolished county government in 1999.[3] Lawrence is part of the Merrimack Valley.

Lawrence, Massachusetts
North Canal
North Canal
Flag of Lawrence, Massachusetts
Official seal of Lawrence, Massachusetts
Industria (Latin)
Location in Essex County, Massachusetts.
Lawrence is located in Massachusetts
Location in the United States
Lawrence is located in the United States
Lawrence (the United States)
Coordinates: 42°42′25″N 71°09′49″W / 42.70694°N 71.16361°W / 42.70694; -71.16361
CountryUnited States
RegionNew England
Incorporated (city)1853
Founded byEssex Company
Named forAbbott Lawrence
 • TypeMayor–council
 • MayorBrian De Peña
 • City councilJeovanny A. Rodrigueze
(Council President)
Stephany Infante
(Vice-President, District E)
Celina Reyes
Ana Levy
Fidelina Santiago
(District A)
Wendy Luzon
(District B)
Gregory Del Rosario
(District C)
Vivian Marmol
(District D)
Marc LaPlant
(District F)
 • Total7.43 sq mi (19.24 km2)
 • Land6.93 sq mi (17.95 km2)
 • Water0.50 sq mi (1.29 km2)
16 ft (5 m)
 • Total89,143
 • Density12,863.35/sq mi (4,966.73/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDST)
ZIP Codes
Area code351/978
FIPS code25-34550

Manufacturing products of the city include electronic equipment, textiles, footwear, paper products, computers, and foodstuffs. Lawrence was the residence of the poet Robert Frost for his early school years; his essays and poems were first published in the Lawrence High School newspaper.[4] Lawrence is also the birthplace of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein in 1918, and singer Robert Goulet in 1933.



Indigenous history


Native Americans lived along the Merrimack River for thousands of years before European colonization of the Americas. Evidence of farming at Den Rock Park and arrowhead manufacturing on the site where the Wood Mill now sits have been discovered.[5]

At the time of contact in the early 1600s, the Pennacook or Pentucket had a presence north of the Merrimack, while Massachusett, Naumkeag, and Agawam controlled territory south of the river.[6] The territory which would later be aggregated into the city of Lawrence was purchased from Pennacooks Sagahew and Passaquo in 1642 for the English settlement of Haverhill, and from Massachusett sachem Cutshamekin in 1646 as a post-hoc payment for the lands surrounding the English settlement of Andover (modern-day North Andover center).[6]

Founding and rise as a textile center

Washington Mills in Lawrence (1868), by Winslow Homer
Map of Lawrence, 1876
Ambassador Abbott Lawrence, by George Peter Alexander Healy
Massachusetts National Guardsmen with fixed bayonets surround a parade of strikers during 1912 Lawrence textile strike

Europeans first settled the Haverhill area in 1640, colonists from Newbury following the Merrimack River in from the coast.[7] The area that would become Lawrence was then part of Methuen and Andover. The first settlement within present-day city limits came in 1655 with the establishment of a blockhouse in Shawsheen Fields, now South Lawrence.

The future site of the city (formerly parts of Andover and Methuen), was purchased by a consortium of local industrialists. The Water Power Association members: Abbott Lawrence, Edmund Bartlett, Thomas Hopkinson of Lowell, John Nesmith and Daniel Saunders, had purchased control of Peter's Falls on the Merrimack River and hence controlled Bodwell's Falls the site of the present Great Stone Dam. The group allotted fifty thousand dollars to buy land along the river to develop.[8]: 11  In 1844, the group petitioned the legislature to act as a corporation, known as the Essex Company, which incorporated on April 16, 1845. The first excavations for the Great Stone Dam to harness the Merrimack River's water power were done on August 1, 1845.[8]: 17  The Essex Company would sell the water power to corporations such as the Arlington Mills, as well as organize the construction of mills and build to suit. Until 1847, when the state legislature recognized the community as a town, it was called interchangeably the "New City", "Essex" or "Merrimac".[8]: 23  The post office, built in 1846, used the designation "Merrimac". Incorporation as a city would come in 1853, and the name "Lawrence", was merely chosen as a token of respect to Abbott Lawrence, who it cannot be verified ever saw the city named after him.

Canals were dug on both the north and the south banks to provide power to the factories that would soon be built on its banks as both mill owners and workers from across the city and the world flocked to the city in droves; many were Irish laborers who had experience with similar building work. The work was dangerous: injuries and even death were common.[9]

Bread and Roses Strike of 1912


Working conditions in the mills were unsafe and in 1860 the Pemberton Mill collapsed, killing 145 workers.[10] As immigrants flooded into the United States in the mid to late 19th century, the population of Lawrence abounded with skilled and unskilled workers from several countries. Protesting conditions, in 1912 they walked out of the mills. The action, sometimes celebrated as the Bread and Roses Strike, was one of the more important, widely reported, labor struggles in American history.[11]

The Industrial Workers of the World (the "One Big Union", the "Wobblies") defied the common wisdom that a largely female and ethnically divided workforce could not be organized, and the strike held through two bitterly cold winter months. The young 15-year mill hand Fred Beal, who was drawn by the experience into a lifetime of labor organizing, recalls that contrary to expectations, it was the most recent immigrant groups, "the Italians, Poles, Syrians [Lebanese] and Franco-Belgians", who "kept it alive.[12]

After hundreds of the strikers' hungry children had been sent to sympathetic families in New York, New Jersey, and Vermont, and the U.S. Congress was induced to hold hearings, the mill owners decided to settle, giving workers in Lawrence and throughout New England raises of up to 20 percent.[13] However, as a young Massachusetts Senator, John F. Kennedy was later to record, in the decades that followed the mill owners moved their capital and employment out of Lawrence and the region to the non-union South.[14]

Post-War history


Lawrence was a great wool-processing center until that industry declined in the 1950s. The decline left Lawrence a struggling city. The population of Lawrence declined from over 80,000 residents in 1950 (and a high of 94,270 in 1920) to approximately 64,000 residents in 1980, the low point of Lawrence's population. Much of the population relocated to nearby Methuen.

Urban redevelopment and renewal

Merrimack River at Lawrence
Aerial view of Merrimack River and Lawrence, 2010

Like other northeastern cities suffering from the effects of post-World War II industrial decline, Lawrence has often made efforts at revitalization, some of them controversial. The Lawrence Redevelopment Authority and city officials utilized eminent domain for a perceived public benefit, via a top-down approach, to revitalize the city throughout the 1960s. Known first as urban redevelopment, and then urban renewal, Lawrence's local government's actions towards vulnerable immigrant and poor communities, contained an undercurrent of gentrification which lies beneath the goals to revitalize Lawrence. There was a clash of differing ideals and perceptions of blight, growth, and what constituted a desirable community. Ultimately the discussion left out those members of the community who would be directly impacted by urban redevelopment.[15]

Under the guise of urban renewal, large tracts of downtown Lawrence were razed in the 1970s, and replaced with parking lots and a three-story parking garage connected to a new Intown Mall intended to compete with newly constructed suburban malls. The historic Theater Row along Broadway was also razed, destroying ornate movie palaces of the 1920s and 1930s that entertained mill workers through the Great Depression and the Second World War. The city's main post office, an ornate Federalist-style building at the corner of Broadway and Essex Street, was razed. Most of the structures were replaced with one-story, steel-frame structures with large parking lots, housing such establishments as fast food restaurants and chain drug stores, fundamentally changing the character of the center of Lawrence.[citation needed]

Lawrence also attempted to increase its employment base by attracting industries unwanted in other communities, such as waste treatment facilities and incinerators.[citation needed] From 1980 until 1998, private corporations operated two trash incinerators in Lawrence. Activist residents successfully blocked the approval of a waste treatment center on the banks of the Merrimack River near the current site of Salvatore's Pizza on Merrimack Street.[citation needed]

Recently the focus of Lawrence's urban renewal has shifted to preservation rather than sprawl.

Events of the 1980s and 1990s


Immigrants from the Dominican Republic and migrants from Puerto Rico began arriving in Lawrence in significant numbers in the late 1960s, attracted by cheap housing and a history of tolerance toward immigrants. In 1984, tensions between remaining working-class whites and increasing numbers of Hispanic youth flared into a riot, centered at the intersection of Haverhill Street and Oxford Street, where several buildings were destroyed by Molotov cocktails and over 300 people were arrested.[16][17]

Lawrence saw further setbacks during the recession of the early 1990s as a wave of arson plagued the city. Over 200 buildings were set alight in eighteen months in 1991–1992, many of them abandoned residences and industrial sites.[18] The Malden Mills factory burned down on December 11, 1995. CEO Aaron Feuerstein decided to continue paying the salaries of all the now unemployed workers while the factory was being rebuilt.[19]


A sharp reduction in violent crime starting in 2004[20] and massive private investment in former mill buildings along the Merrimack River, including the remaining section of the historic Wood Worsted Mill—to be converted into commercial, residential and education uses – have lent encouragement to boosters of the city.[citation needed] One of the final remaining mills in the city is Malden Mills. Lawrence's downtown has seen a resurgence of business activity as Hispanic-owned businesses have opened along Essex Street, the historic shopping street of Lawrence that remained largely shuttered since the 1970s.[citation needed] In June 2007, the city approved the sale of the Intown Mall, largely abandoned since the early 1990s recession, to Northern Essex Community College for the development of a medical sciences center, the construction of which commenced in 2012 when the InTown Mall was finally removed.[21][22] A large multi-structure fire in January 2008 destroyed many wooden structures just south of downtown.[23] A poor financial situation that has worsened with the recent global recession and has led to multiple municipal layoffs had Lawrence contemplating receivership.[24] On February 9, 2019, in recognition of the role the town has played in the labor movement, Senator Elizabeth Warren officially announced her candidacy for President of the United States in Lawrence.[25]

Gas explosion


On September 13, 2018, a series of gas explosions and fires broke out in as many as 40 homes in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. The disaster killed one resident and caused over 30,000 customers to evacuate their homes.[26] A year after this first incident on September 27, 2019, there was another gas leak causing people to evacuate their homes again.


Timeline of Lawrence, Massachusetts

History of Lawrence immigrant communities


Lawrence has been aptly nicknamed the "Immigrant City".[55] It has been home to numerous different immigrant communities, most of whom arrived during the great wave of European immigration to America that ended in the 1920s.

Immigrant communities, 1845–1920


Lawrence became home to large groups of immigrants from Europe, beginning with the Irish in 1845, Germans after the social upheaval in Germany in 1848, Swedes fleeing an overcrowded Sweden, and French Canadians seeking to escape hard northern farm life from the 1850s onward. A second wave began arriving after 1900, as part of the great mass of Italian and Eastern European immigrants, including Jews from Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and neighboring regions. Immigration to the United States was severely curtailed in the 1920s with the Immigration Act of 1924 when foreign-born immigration to Lawrence virtually ceased for over 40 years.[55]

In 1890, the foreign-born population of 28,577 was divided as follows, with the significant remainder of the population being children of foreign-born residents: 7,058 Irish; 6,999 French Canadians; 5,131 English; 2,465 German; 1,683 English Canadian.[29] In 1920, toward the end of the first wave of immigration, most ethnic groups had numerous social clubs in the city. The Portuguese had 2; the English had 2; the Jews had 3; the Armenians, 5; the Lebanese and Syrians, 6; the Irish, 8; the Polish, 9; the French Canadians and Belgian-French, 14; the Lithuanians, 18; the Italians, 32; and the Germans, 47.[56] However, the center of social life, even more than clubs or fraternal organizations, was churches. Lawrence is dotted with churches, many now closed, torn down, or converted into other uses. These churches signify, more than any other artifacts, the immigrant communities that once lived within walking distance of each church.[56][57]


The first sizable German community arrived following the revolutions of 1848.[55] However, a larger German community was formed after 1871, when industrial workers from Saxony were displaced by economic competition from new industrial areas like the Ruhr.[58] The German community was characterized by numerous school clubs, shooting clubs, national and regional clubs, as well as men's choirs and mutual aid societies,[58] many of which were clustered around the Turn Verein, a major social club on Park Street.[56] Germans had a considerable number of churches in Lawrence, including Church of the Assumption of Mary (German Catholic) parish formed in 1887 on Lawrence Street,[59] as well as several Protestant churches including The German Methodist Episcopal Church, Vine Street, organized in 1878; and the German Presbyterian, East Haverhill Street, organized 1872 from which the Methodist church split in 1878.[60]


Some Italian immigrants celebrated Mass in the basement chapel of the largely Irish St. Laurence O'Toole Church, at the intersection of East Haverhill Street and Newbury Street, until they had collected sufficient funds to erect the Holy Rosary Church in 1909 nearby at the intersection of Union Street and Essex Street.[56] Immigrants from Lentini (a comune in the Sicilian the province of Syracuse) and from the Sicilian province of Catania maintained a particular devotion to three Catholic martyrs, Saint Alfio, Saint Filadelfo and Saint Cirino, and in 1923 began celebrating a procession on their feast day.[61] Although most of the participants live in neighboring towns, the Feast of Three Saints festival continues in Lawrence today. Many of the Italians who lived in the Newbury Street area had immigrated from Trecastagni, Viagrande, Acireale, and Nicolosi, Italy.

French Canadians

French Canadians were the second major immigrant group to settle in Lawrence. In 1872, they erected their first church, St. Anne's, at the corner of Haverhill and Franklin streets. Within decades, St. Anne's established a "missionary church", Sacred Heart on South Broadway, to serve the burgeoning Québécois community in South Lawrence. Later it would also establish the "missionary" parishes in Methuen: Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Theresa's (Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel et St-Thérèse). The French-Canadians arrived from various farming areas of Quebec where the old parishes were overpopulated: some people moved up north (Abitibi and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean), while others moved to industrial towns to find work (Montreal, Quebec; but also in the United States). Others who integrated themselves into these French-Canadian communities were actually Acadians who had left the Canadian Maritimes of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia also in search of work.

Lebanese ("Syrians")

Lawrence residents frequently referred to their Arabic-speaking Middle Eastern community as "Syrian". Most so-called Syrians in Lawrence were from present-day Lebanon and were largely Maronite Christian.[56] Lebanese and Syrians mostly settled in the neighborhoods of North Lawrence such as Tower Hill along with Prospect Hill. Lebanese immigrants organized St. Anthony's Maronite Church in 1903 on the corner of Lebanon Street and Lawrence Street,[62] and St. Joseph's Melkite Greek-Catholic Church, as well as St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Church.[56]


Jewish merchants became increasingly numerous in Lawrence and specialized in dry goods and retail shops. The fanciest men's clothing store in Lawrence, Kap's, established in 1902 and closed in the early 1990s, was founded by Elias Kapelson, born in Lithuania. Jacob Sandler arrived in Lawrence in June 1891 (1906, his two brothers (Isaac and Sundel arrived), and 3 other brothers also arrived in the early 1900s. Jacob opened a shoe business at 434 Broadway and earned enough income to purchase the property at 256–258 Essex St starting Sandler's Department Store, it later became Sandler's Luggage which continued under his son, Simon Sandler, and later his grandson, Robert Sandler until 1978. In the 1880s, the first Jewish arrivals established a community around Common, Valley, Concord, and Lowell streets. As of 1922, there were at least two noteworthy congregations, both on Concord Street: Congregation of Sons of Israel (Jewish), organized October 3, 1894. Synagogue on Concord Street built in 1913; and Congregation of Anshea Sfard (Jewish), organized on April 6, 1900. The synagogue on Concord Street was built in the autumn of 1907.[59] In the 1920s, the Jews of Lawrence began congregating further up Tower Hill, where they erected two synagogues on Lowell Street above Milton Street, as well as a Jewish Community Center on nearby Haverhill Street. All three institutions had closed their doors by 1990 as the remaining elderly members of the community died out or moved away.[56]


The Polish community of Lawrence was estimated to be only 600–800 persons in 1900. However, by 1905, the community had expanded sufficiently to fund the construction of the Holy Trinity Church at the corner of Avon and Trinity streets.[56] Their numbers grew to 2,100 Poles in 1910. Like many of their immigrant brethren from other nations, most of the Poles were employed in woolen and worsted goods manufacturing.[63]


Lawrence had a sizable enough Lithuanian community to warrant the formation of both Lithuanian Catholic and Lithuanian National Catholic churches. St. Francis (Lithuanian Catholic Church) on Bradford Street was formed in 1903 by Rev. James T. O'Reilly of St. Mary's, in a building previously occupied by St. John's Episcopal Church.[64] The church closed in 2002, merging with Holy Trinity (Polish) and SS. Peter and Paul (Portuguese). Sacred Heart Lithuanian National Catholic Church was established in 1917 and located on Garden Street until its closure and sale in 2001.


A sizable English community, composed mainly of unskilled laborers who arrived after 1880, sought work in the textile mills where they were given choice jobs by the Yankee overseers on account of their shared linguistic heritage and close cultural links.

Yankee farmers
Lawrence Street Congregational Church

Not all immigrants to Lawrence were foreign-born or their children. Yankee farmers, unable to compete against the cheaper farmlands of the Midwest that had been linked to the East Coast by rail, settled in corners of Lawrence. Congregationalists were the second Protestant denomination to begin worship in Lawrence after the Episcopalians, with the formation of the Lawrence Street Congregational Church in 1847,[65]: 66  and the first in South Lawrence, with the erection in 1852 of the first South Congregational Church on South Broadway, near the corner of Andover Street.[56] Baptist churches included The First Baptist Church, one of the first churches in Lawrence, which was organized in the spring of 1947 and was known as Amesbury Street Baptist Church. Second Baptist was organized on September 6, 1860; its building was dedicated in 1874.[59]

New immigrants, 1970 to present


Immigration of foreign-born workers to Lawrence largely ceased in 1921 with the passage of strict quotas against immigrants from the countries that had supplied the cheap, unskilled workers.

Although many quotas were lifted after the Second World War, foreign immigration to Lawrence only increased again in the early 1960s, with Hispanic immigrants from Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries. Immigrants from Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam, have also settled in Lawrence.

Indicative of immigration trends, several Catholic churches now conduct masses in two or more languages. St. Patrick's Church, a Catholic church in Lawrence and once an Irish bastion, has celebrated Spanish masses on Sundays since 1999. A mass in Vietnamese is also offered every other week.[66] St. Mary's of the Assumption Parish is the largest Catholic parish in Lawrence by Mass attendance and number of registered parishioners. It has the largest multi-lingual congregation in the city and has been offering Spanish masses since the early 1990s.[citation needed]

Since the 1990s, increasing numbers of former Catholic churches, closed since the 1980s when their Irish or Italian congregations died out, have been bought by Hispanic evangelical churches.[67]

The 2000 Census revealed the following population breakdown, illustrating the shift toward newer immigrant groups:

Dominican Republic, 22%; other Hispanic or Latino, 12%; Irish, 7%; Italian, 7%, French (except Basque), 5%; Black or African American, 5%; French Canadian, 5%; English, 3%; Arab, 2%; German, 2%; Lebanese, 2%; Central American, 1%; Polish, 1%; Portuguese, 1%; Guatemalan, 1%; Vietnamese, 1%; South American, 1%; Spanish, 1%; Cambodian, 1%; Scottish, 1%; Cuban, 1%; Scotch-Irish, 1%; Ecuadoran, 1%.[68]



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.4 square miles (19 km2), of which 7.0 square miles (18 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) (6.07%) is water. Lawrence is on both sides of the Merrimack River, approximately 26 miles (42 km) upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. On the north side of the river, it is surrounded by Methuen. On the south side of the river, the town is bordered by North Andover to the east, and Andover to the south and southwest. Lawrence is approximately 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Newburyport, 30 miles (48 km) north-northwest of Boston and 27 miles (43 km) southeast of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Aside from the Merrimack River, other water features include the Spicket River, which flows into the Merrimack from Methuen, and the Shawsheen River, which forms the southeastern border of the city. Lawrence has two power canals that were formerly used to provide hydropower to the mills—one on the north bank of the river, the other on the south. Channeling water into these canals is the Great Stone Dam, which lies across the entire Merrimack and was, at the time of its construction in the 1840s, the largest dam in the world. The highest point in Lawrence is the top of Tower Hill in the northwest corner of the city, rising approximately 240 feet (73 m) above sea level. Other prominent hills include Prospect Hill, in the northeastern corner of the city, and Mount Vernon, along the southern edge of the city. Most industrial activity was concentrated in the flatlands along the rivers. Den Rock Park, a wooded conservation district on the southern edge of Lawrence that spans the Lawrence-Andover town line, provides recreation for nature lovers and rock climbers alike.[69] There are also several small parks throughout town.



Lawrence has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa), which is typical for the southern Merrimack valley region in eastern Massachusetts.

Climate data for Lawrence, Massachusetts (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1893–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 70
Mean maximum °F (°C) 57.9
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 35.1
Daily mean °F (°C) 27.3
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 19.6
Mean minimum °F (°C) 0.0
Record low °F (°C) −23
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.17
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.3 8.7 9.6 9.9 11.9 11.1 9.2 8.9 8.6 9.9 9.6 10.0 118.7
Source 1: NOAA[70]
Source 2: National Weather Service[71]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[72][73]

2020 census

Lawrence, Massachusetts – Racial and ethnic composition
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity (NH = Non-Hispanic) Pop 2000[74] Pop 2010[75] Pop 2020[76] % 2000 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 24,569 15,637 10,984 34.10% 20.47% 12.32%
Black or African American alone (NH) 1,412 1,722 2,088 1.96% 2.25% 2.34%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 204 130 96 0.28% 0.17% 0.11%
Asian alone (NH) 1,832 1,756 1,547 2.54% 2.30% 1.74%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 18 2 9 0.02% 0.00% 0.01%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 157 253 660 0.22% 0.33% 0.74%
Mixed Race or Multi-Racial (NH) 832 514 857 1.15% 0.67% 0.96%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 43,019 56,363 72,902 59.71% 73.80% 81.78%
Total 72,043 76,377 89,143 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%

As of the 2020 United States census, Lawrence had a population of 89,143. Of which, 81.7% were Hispanic/Latino, 12.3% were non-Hispanic White, 2.3% were non-Hispanic Black, 1.7% were Asian, 0.1% were Native American or Pacific Islander, 1.9% mixed or other.[77]

2010 census


According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Census, the city's population is 76,377, the population density is 10,973.7 per square mile (4237/km2), and there are 27,137 households (25,181 occupied).

The racial makeup of the city in 2016 was 16.6% non-Hispanic white, 7.8% Black or African American, 2.8% Asian (1.2% Cambodian, 0.7% Vietnamese, 0.3% Pakistani, 0.2% Indian, 0.2% Chinese, 0.1% Korean), 0.4% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 39.3% some other race, 2.7% two or more races, and 77.1% of the population is Hispanic or Latino (of any race) (47.0% Dominican, 21.7% Puerto Rican, 3.0% Guatemalan, 0.7% Salvadoran, 0.7% Spanish, 0.6% Cuban, 0.5% Ecuadorian, 0.5% Mexican, 0.2% Honduran, 0.2% Colombian, 0.1% Venezuelan, 0.1% Nicaraguan, 0.1% Peruvian).[78]

As of the census[79] of 2000, there were 72,043 people, 24,463 households, and 16,903 families residing in the city. The population density was 10,351.4 inhabitants per square mile (3,996.7/km2). There were 25,601 housing units at an average density of 3,678.4 per square mile (1,420.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 48.64% White (U.S. Average: 72.4%), 4.88% African American (U.S. Average: 12.3%), 2.65% Asian (U.S. Average: 3.6%), 0.81% Native American (U.S. Average: 0.1%), 0.10% Pacific Islander (U.S. Average: 0.1%), 36.67% from other races (U.S. Average: 5.5%), 6.25% from two or more races (U.S. Average: 2.4%).

There were 24,463 households where the average household size was 2.90 and the average family size was 3.46.

  • 41.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them. (U.S. Average: 32.8%)
  • 36.6% were married couples living together. (U.S. Average: 51.7%)
  • 25.7% had a female householder with no husband present. (U.S. Average: 12.2%)
  • 30.9% were non-families. (U.S. Average: 31.9%)
  • 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals. (U.S. Average: 25.8%)
  • 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. (U.S. Average: 9.2%)

In the city, the population had a median age was 30.0 years (U.S. Average: 35.3):

  • 32.0% under the age of 18
  • 11.1% from 18 to 24
  • 30.3% from 25 to 44
  • 16.7% from 45 to 64
  • 9.8% were 65 years of age or older.

For every 100 females, there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,983 (U.S. Average: $41,994), and the median income for a family was $29,809 (U.S. Average: $50,046). Males had a median income of $27,772 versus $23,137 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,360. About 21.2% of families (U.S. Average: 9.2%) and 34.3% (U.S. Average: 12.4%) of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.7% of those under age 18 and 20.1% of those age 65 or over.

The former Mayor of Lawrence, Daniel Rivera, said the city was "approximately 75% Spanish" following an incident where non-English speaking callers were allegedly hung up on by a 911 operator.[80]



New Balance has a shoe manufacturing plant in Lawrence, one of five plants operating in the US.[81][82]

Charm Sciences, which manufactures test kits and systems for antibiotics, veterinary drugs, mycotoxins, pesticides, alkaline phosphatase, pathogens, end-product microbial assessment, allergen control, and ATP hygiene, has a laboratory in Lawrence.

Arts and culture

High Service Water Tower (1895), also called Tower Hill Water Tower

Points of interest



Lawrence’s Old Public Library, 1899

The Lawrence Public Library was established in 1872.[88][89] In fiscal year 2008, the city of Lawrence spent 0.55% ($1,155,597) of its budget on its public library—approximately $16 per person, per year ($19.60 adjusted for inflation in 2021).[90]



Lawrence is one of Essex County's two county seats, along with Salem. As such, it is home to a juvenile, district and superior court, as well as a regional office of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.[citation needed]



Lawrence has a "strong mayor", which is one directly elected by the voters to be the city's executive. The city council is elected partly at large and partly from districts or wards of the city. Party primaries are prohibited.[91][92] Lawrence has an established City Charter[93] and a mayor-council government. There are nine city councilors and six school committee members; most are elected by district; three city council members are elected at large. There are six districts in Lawrence and all elections are non-partisan. The Mayor serves as the seventh member and chair of the school committee. The city council chooses one of its members as president who serves as chair of the council. The city of Lawrence also elects three members to the Greater Lawrence Technical School Committee these members are elected at-large. City Council and Mayoral terms of office begin in January.[citation needed]

The current mayor is Brian A. De Peña.[94] The current members of the City Council are:[95]

  • Marc LaPlante, President (District F)
  • Estela Reyes, Vice-President (District B)
  • Richard Russell, Councilor at large
  • Celina Reyes, Councilor at large
  • Ana Levy, Councilor at large
  • Maria De La Cruz, District A
  • Gregory Delrosario, District C
  • Jeovanny A. Rodriguez, District D
  • Stephany Infante, District E

The Lawrence School Committee has six elected district members in which the Mayor serves as the appointed seventh member and chair of the school committee.

  • Brian A DePeña, Chair (Mayor)
  • Jonathan Guzmán, Vice-Chair (Committeeman of District F)
  • Threicy Soto, Committeewoman of District A
  • Santiago Reyes-Cruz, Committeeman of District B
  • Lenin Roa, Committeeman of District C
  • Joshua Alba, Committeeman of District D
  • Patricia Mariano, Committeewoman of District E

State government


Federal government




Public schools

Lawrence High School

The city has a public school system managed by Lawrence Public Schools. In November 2011, the Lawrence Public Schools was placed into state receivership by the Massachusetts Board of Elementary & Secondary Education.[97]

High schools


Charter schools

  • Lawrence Family Development Charter School[100]
  • Community Day Charter Public School[101]

Private schools


Elementary schools

  • Bellesini Academy[102]
  • Esperanza Academy[103]
  • Lawrence Catholic Academy[104]

High schools


Higher education








Lawrence's main newspaper is The Eagle-Tribune,[105] one of the major newspapers for the Merrimack Valley that was founded in Lawrence in 1890 but later moved its facilities to the town of North Andover on Route 114. Lawrence is home to Rumbo (a bilingual English/Spanish paper) and Siglo 21[106] (a Spanish paper). The city has three AM stations, WNNW/800, WCAP/980, and WLLH/1400 (which is also dually licensed to Lowell, Massachusetts with a synchronous transmitter in that city); along with one FM station: WEEI-FM/93.7. WMFP is the only television station operating out of the city, and the city is considered part of the Boston television market.





Lawrence lies along Interstate 495, which passes through the eastern portion of the city. There are three exits entirely within the city, though two more provide access from just outside the city limits. The town is also served by Route 28 passing from south to north through the city, and Route 110, which passes from east to west through the northern half of the city. Route 114 also has its western terminus at Route 28 at the Merrimack River. Lawrence is the site of four road crossings and a railroad crossing over the Merrimack, including the O'Leary Bridge (Route 28), a railroad bridge, the Casey Bridge (bringing Parker Street and access to Route 114 and the Lawrence MBTA station to the north shore), the Duck Bridge (which brings Union Street across the river), and the double-decked O'Reilly Bridge, bringing I-495 across the river.

Lawrence is the western hub of the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority's bus service. It is also home to the Senator Patricia McGovern Transportation Center, home to regional bus service, and the Lawrence stop along the Haverhill/Reading Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail system, providing service from Haverhill to Boston's North Station. Amtrak's Downeaster service to Maine is available eight miles to the northeast in Haverhill. Lawrence Municipal Airport provides small plane service, though it is actually in neighboring North Andover. Lawrence is approximately equidistant from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Logan International Airport. Plans to revitalize the Manchester and Lawrence branch[107] to the north, leading to Manchester, New Hampshire, will allow the MBTA to operate rail service up to Manchester from Lawrence, in conjunction with Pan Am Freights.



Lawrence General Hospital, founded in 1875,[108] is the city's main hospital, providing service to much of the area south of the city. Other nearby hospitals are in Methuen, Haverhill, and Lowell. The city also is served by the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center.[109] Guardian Ambulance was established in 1990 and incorporated in 1991 by local EMTs to serve the city during a downturn in the economy at that time. The station moved from the Tower Hill section to its current location on Marston Street in 1993.

Public safety


Lawrence has its own police and fire departments, and Lawrence General Hospital provides ambulance services to the city.[110] The city is also covered by the Andover barracks of Troop A of the Massachusetts State Police, which serves much of the western Merrimack Valley and several towns just south of Andover.[citation needed]

Lawrence Correctional Alternative Center is a regional alternative jail for low-risk offenders.



The city also has its own public works and trash pickup departments.

Notable people


See also



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