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Bird's eye view
At the center of Lowell, Massachusetts lie the rivers, dams, 
canals, and factories which contributed to the growth of one 
of America's greatest manufacturing centers.  Although 
considerable attention has been focused on the study of 
Lowell's central core, the majority of Lowell's residents in 
the mid-to late nineteenth century resided outside the city 
center.  The colorful names of Lowell’s neighborhoods - 
such as Chapel Hill, Belvidere Village, Pawtucketville, 
Centralville, and the Highlands - provide only a hint of the 
important  role these areas had in shaping the city's history.
     Among the earliest of these neighborhoods is Chapel Hill, 
with representative residential architectural styles from nearly 
every period of the city's industrial development.  Enveloping 
a hilly site, Chapel Hill is bounded at the east by the Concord 
River, at the west by Gorham Street, and at the north and 
south by Charles Street and Hale’s Brook.
     Chapel Hill's settlement began in the 1820s, when Lowell 
was emerging as a major textile center. Although many of the 
town's residents were employed in the cotton mills and 
lived in company-owned houses, the growing community 
attracted others -shopkeeper, carpenters, masons,  
policemen - who supplied the goods and services 
required by a rapidly expanding town. 
     For individuals wishing to build their own houses, 
Chapel Hill proved to be the only available land 
convenient to the center of Lowell that was neither in 
corporation ownership nor separated from the mills by 
a river.  Unlike Centralville and Washington Square in 
Belvidere, which date from the 1830s, there was no 
predetermined plan for the growth of Chapel Hill. 
     Instead of  following a previously laid-out grid of 
streets and houselots, the area grew organically, 
conforming to the topography and to the random sale 
and development of house lots. Paralleling the north-
south axis of Gorham Street (the original colonial 
route between East Chelmsford and Billerica), Central 
Street wrapped around the hill, Chapel Street ran over 
its ridgeline, and Lawrence Street followed the 
Concord River.  A network of short cross streets 
(Charles, North, Ames, Mill and Elm) soon 
connected them. 
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