Friday, May 4, 2012

Cash and Carry

From James M. Surprenant:

We're glad to welcome another new contributor to the Backside, James M. Surprenant -- Ed.

Cash and Carry

Broadway & Canal Streets, Lawrence, MA

My hometown, Lawrence, Massachusetts, was on the leading edge of the American Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. The city was literally carved out of the existing towns of Methuen to the north and Andover to the south along the Merrimack River, which was dammed to power the mills of the new manufacturing city.

Lawrence became a leader in worsted wool production. The city led the way in uniforming our GIs during World War I.

Both of my grandparents worked in the Lawrence mills and I've always had a strong appreciation for my blue collar heritage.

By the mid-20th century the good manufacturing jobs found in these giant brick buildings moved first to the South and then overseas as the greedy capitalist owners looked to cheaper and cheaper labor to pad their bottom lines.

Over time the vacant mills and warehouses were re-purposed. Today's occupants include self storage space and flea markets. Several mills stand vacant, and many others were torched and burned to the ground. Century-old, oil-soaked floors make for spectacular blazes.

This warehouse building still stands today and the CASH AND CARRY sign has been familiar to me since my childhood in the 1970s.


  1. Great post James! I'm a mill town son as well, so I love these kind of pictures and stories.

  2. Thanks for the opportunity to post here Dave, and thanks for the nice words Joe - I'm a big fan of your work on this blog... you have a fine eye and excellent technique shooting a subject near and dear to my heart, that which I call "urban blight."