Lawrence was first settled by Europeans around 1640. The site was purchased in 1845 by a group of Boston industrialists from the local people, mainlyWampanoag but may have also been divisions of the Narraganset, Niantic and Nauset . Headed by the wealthy merchant and congressman Abbott Lawrence, the community's namesake, the group established textile mills near sources of abundant water power.
With an estimated population of 73,000 residents, Lawrence is a great place to live and work. City residents support a wide variety of cultural and historical attractions and programs like the Essex Art Center, which is a non-profit art organization whose mission is to inspire and nurture the diverse artistic potential of the Greater Lawrence community through classroom exploration and gallery exhibitions. Funding comes, in part, from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and local foundations.
The Lawrence Visitor Center, located at the Lawrence Heritage State Park, is also another source of pride for the city. The center is a restored 1840s boarding house featuring original beams andbrickswork .There is a turn-of-the-century kitchen, models of mills and boarding houses, and visitors can trace the routes of more than 30 immigrant populations who settled in Lawrence. Included in the exhibit is a video presentation of the Great Strike of 1912 that tells a powerful story of the 30 thousand workers who participated in "The Bread and Roses Strike." Also commemorating their struggles is a painting by renowned artist Ralph Fasanella that is a permanent piece of the exhibit.
Other notable sites and attractions in the area are the beautiful city parks, offering a wide variety of sports facilities, walking trails, play areas, sailing and boating, special events and guided tours. These includePemberton Park, Lawrence Riverfront State Park and the Great Stone Dam. Colleges and universities in the area also offer many public programs, museums, and events beyond traditional education. They are the University of Massachusetts Lowell, NorthernEsses Community College, Merrimack College, and Cambridge College.