Lynn Massachusetts, 1890

LYNN is a manufacturing town on the seaboard in the extreme southern part of Essex County, 11 miles northeast of Boston, with which it is connected by a street railway, and by the Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad and by the Eastern line of the Boston and Maine Railroad; the latter connecting it directly with the railroad systems north, east and south.

Lynn harbor opens on Broad Sound, in Massachusetts Bay. It is nearly half filled with flats, but through it run numerous channels, some of which are 15 feet in depth, and wide enough for easy towage.

Lynn is bounded on the north by Peabody and Salem, east by Swampscott and its harbor, on the south by its own harbor, and on the west by Saugus. The long peninsula of Nahant lies in the sea eastward; forming the eastern side of Lynn harbor. There is a considerable extent of beach on each side of the peninsula.

The assessed area of the city is 4,378 acres. The more densely occupied portion is about four miles in length along the shore, and some two miles in breadth from the shore to the hills. The western half of this tract, resting on the Saugus River (which forms the southwestern line of the township) is a rather low plain, of which nearly one half toward the sea is salt marsh covered at high water. The eastern half is of greater elevation. The rear section of the township northward is a tract of rough hills covered with wood. A large portion of this wild and romantic tract has been acquired by the city for the purpose primarily of a series of basins for an increase of the water-supply of the city. The area of two small ponds has already been increased to beautiful sheets of water, one of which is about two miles in length, and very irregular in its outline. It has been named "Walden Pond," in honor of the leader in the formation of this noble park. The height recently named "Mount Gilead," in this region, affords a magnificent view of forests, rocks, villages, bays and beaches. The soil, except on the hills, is a gravelly loam, approaching clay, with ample deposits of clear clay. The rock, in the half nearest the sea is a dark, bluish felsite, passing into a purple porphyry, and thought to be of Huronian origin. North of the porphyry, the rock is a gray sienite, strongly metamorphic in the east, but northerly becoming distinctly hornblendic. On the west the porphyry becomes conglomerate. Profitable quarrying has been done in some places.

Just east of the territorial centre lies Wennuchus Lake, covering 117 acres; Wyoma Lake, of 84 acres, lies near on the northwest; and on the same line is Cedar Lake. Southwest of the centre lies a group of ponds, partly artificial, which furnishes the city with water. The drainage is by Strawberry, Mowers and Birch brooks, affluents of the Saugus, and by Stacy's Brook, which enters the ocean at Swampscott. An elevation called "Dungeon Rock" lies northwest of the centre. Near it is Sunadon Rock, 770 feet in height, on the western line.

High Rock is a picturesque cliff in the city proper. This elevation affords an excellent view of the city, of the neighboring towns, and of the harbor and beaches. At the foot of this rock dwelt, a generation ago, the famous fortune-teller, Moll Pitcher. The city has many well-shaded streets, and beautiful private and public buildings. Ocean Street and others in its vicinity have many fine residences and command fine sea views.

The leading business is the manufacture of boots and shoes, for which there were in 1885, 308 establishments, employing upwards of 9,474 persons, producing goods to the value of $23,573,319. More than 1,000 men are employed in tanning and dressing the various kinds of leather. The artisans' tools made amounted to nearly $1,000,000; and there are large manufactures of food preparations, electrical apparatus, boxes and other paper goods, textiles, bricks, carriages, polishes and dressing for leather, lasts, furniture, glass, liquors, and others common to villages. The aggregate value of goods made was $31,100,906 . The 36 farms yielded to value of $40,848, and fisheries (mackerel) $3,600. The dwellings numbered 7,951. There are five national banks in the city, having an aggregate capital of $ 1,100,000; and two savings banks, carrying deposits at the beginning of the present year of $5,189,519. The valuation of the city in 1888 was $33,224,080, and the tax-rate $18.60 on $1,000. The population in 1885 was 45,867; including 11,949 legal voters. The only post-office is "Lynn," which has carrier delivery. The villages are Glenmere, Highlands, Linwood, East Lynn, West Lynn, Lynnmere, Stetsonville and Wyoma. In or near each of these are railway stations of the Boston and Maine Railroad.

The city hall is a very handsome building, with ample lawns. The schools are in four grades, and occupy 30 buildings, valued at upwards of $530,000. There are also several private schools, consisting of an English and classical school, two mercantile schools, an art academy, Ireson Academy, the Lincoln Hall school and a Roman Catholic school. There are 30 libraries for public use; the city library having about 35,000 volumes; and four circulating libraries having about 5,000. The periodicals are the daily "Bee" and the "Evening Item;" the weekly "Reporter," " Transcript," "City Item" and "Knights of Labor;" the monthly "Agassiz Journal," " Household Monthly" and the "Modern Priscilla." Of the 22 churches in the city, 3 are Baptist, 4 Congregationalist, 1 Free Baptist, 1 Friends, 6 Methodist, 1 Protestant Episcopal, 2 Roman Catholic, 1 Unitarian, 2 Universalist and 1 African Methodist. Several of the edifices are elegant buildings, that of St. Stephen's Memorial being especially striking.

Lynn is with one exception the oldest settlement in Essex County. It was admitted to the General Court under its original (Indian) name of Saugus, in 1630, some 50 new settlers having come in that year. The pioneers came in 1629, and consisted of 5 families about 20 persons, all told who had recently landed at Salem from England; and a certain plain about half a mile in extent, in the eastern section, was the site of this settlement. Saugus signifies "great" or "extended," and probably referred to the long beach. Saugus River was called Abousett by the Indians. The township in its original extent embraced the present towns of Lynnfield (set off in 1682), Saugus (set off in 1815), Swampscott (set off in 1852) and Nahant (set off in 1853). The name was changed to Lynn in the records of the General Court, November 20, 1637. It was incorporated as a city, April 10, 1850. The name in the early period was variously spelled, "Lin," "Linn" and "Lynne." The new name was given in honor of the Rev. William Whiting, the first settled minister, who had been a curate at Lynn Regis, in England.

It is believed that the first iron foundery in America was erected in 1643 in this town on the west bank of the Saugus River, making use of a deposit of bog-iron ore in its vicinity. Ten years later Mr. Joseph Jencks, of these works, made by contract for the town of Boston "an ingine to carry water in case of fire," which was the first constructed in this country. In 1652, the coinage dies for the Boston mint were made here. As early as 1635 two shoemakers came from England and established themselves at Lynn, and the business steadily increased from that time; a great impulse coming to the business about 1750, when John Adams Dagyr, a Welshman, produced shoes equal to the best then made in England.

Early in the Revolution Lynn sent 168 men into the contest, and 56 of them never returned, four being killed at Lexington. For the war of the Rebellion the city furnished 3,270 men, 230 more than its quota. In honor of the 289 who were lost, it has erected a beautiful monument of marble.

Abraham Pierson (1641-1707), a president of Yale College; William Gray (1750-1825), merchant and lieutenant-governor; Isaac Newhall (1782-1858), merchant and author; Chandler Robbins, D.D. (1810), an eminent clergyman; and Peter Thacher Washburne (1814-1870), an eminent jurist, are distinguished sons of Lynn in past days.

pp. 430-432 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890