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Leather industries determined the development of Lynn, “The City of Shoes,” especially during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Founded in 1629 by settlers from the New England Company at Salem, Lynn remained a minor agricultural community through the colonial period. Leather tanneries began to develop in the 1820s along the Black Marsh (or Tanney) Brook emptying into Lynn Harbor. The construction of the Eastern Railroad from Boston to Salem passed through Lynn in 1837, encouraging the relocation of shoe shops from the Lynn Common area (LY1) to Central Square (LY7), location of the train depot by 1838. The shoe district was focused along Munroe Street, with housing for the workers at the base of nearby High Rock. The industry continued to expand until a massive fire in 1889 destroyed the district from Central Square to Broad Street. Rebuilding of five- or six-story brick factories began at once, with attention to fire control, including the setting aside of Lynn Woods (10; 1881– ) as a natural reservation for the water supply. The departure of the shoe industries paralleled others that deserted the northeast in the second quarter of the twentieth century; another major fire in 1981 further eroded the economic vitality of the community.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan

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