Glimpse history through fascinating old images of Lowell, Massachussets.
On December 9, 1871, His Imperial Highness, the Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia was photographed at the entrance to the Lowell home of the Honorable G.V. Fox.
The Grand Duke, the fifth child and the fourth son of Alexander II of Russia and his first wife Maria Alexandrovna, spent the winter of 1871-2 touring the United States.
Standing at the front, to the right, the Grand Duke is twenty three years old. Just a few days before, on November 26, 1871, his son Alexei was born to his lover Alexandra Zhukovskaya. The Grand Duke’s father was furious that his son had taken up her, since she was eight years older and the illegitimate daughter of a Russian poet and a Turkish slave.
Over the years he built up a reputation as a corrupt, spendthrift dilettante, who lavished fortunes on his mistresses. He died of pneumonia in Paris on November 27, 1908, having left Russia following the assassination of his brother Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia in February 1905 and his retirement in disgrace from the navy in June that same year.
Gustavus Vasa Fox (1821-1883) spent most of his life in Lowell, having attended the High School there in the 1830s. He served in the navy during the Mexican–American War, commanded several mail steamers, and then in the American Civil War he was given a temporary appointment in the Navy by Abraham Lincoln.
Why was G.V. Fox hosting the Grand Duke? Because in 1886, he was sent on a special mission to Russia to convey the congratulations of the President to Tsar Alexander II upon his escape from assassination.
When G.V. Fox died at Lowell on October 29, 1883, he was 62 years old.
It’s unclear whether this photo shows a group of women demonstrating a political message. But the community’s women had experience of organising for their rights.
The Lowell Female Labor Reform Association, formed in 1844 when the workday at cotton mills was to be extended, helped reduce the workday at cotton mills to 10 hours instead of 12 or 13 hours a day. Their demands also led to improved safety and better sanitary conditions in the mills.
This panorama was photographed from the Northeast side was submitted to the Library of Congress in 1874, so was probably taken around that time.
Because of the detail packed into this image, I’ve added three closeups.
This lovely photo of a building and shops in Merrimack Street was taken sometime in the second half of the 1800s. The photographer, Lucius O. Churchill, lived from 1833 to 1898.
The old photos of Lowell taken between 1905 and 1908 are so clean and crisp that they look surprisingly modern.
But in the old photo of Merrimack Street in 1908 you’ll notice the ladies with long skirts and the waiting horses and carts, which remind the viewer just how long ago these images were taken.
Old Photos of Lowell (Massachussets)1905-1908 – oldstuff4all on YouTube
Mill Fire 1987
A home movie of the fire which engulfed one of Lowell’s mills in 1987, which also captures some of the surrounding views of the city.
1987 Lowell MA Mill Fire (Complete) – Jeff Durand on YouTube
Lowell in 1992
In 1992, a student walked along the streets asking Lowell’s residents “What’s the biggest problem in the World today?”.
The camera is a bit shaky, the audio is often unclear, but you’ll see rare footage of variety of locations and people from three decades ago.
The People of Lowell, MA – 1992 Answer “What is our Biggest Problem?” – Juliet Harvey-Bolia on YouTube