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Lowell, Massachusetts: 1941

Lowell, Massachusetts: 1941

January 1941. Middlesex Street in the textile mill center of Lowell, Massachusetts. 35mm Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano. View full size.


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LUV the Moxie. You can find it in NY State at some Hannaford stores. If you want a good simulation of what it tastes like, put 3-4 dashes of Angostura Bitters in some fresh real Coca-Cola. Angostura is what you taste in Moxie.
it's Gentian root.

Match Game

Then and Now.

Long Gone [Not]

What a wonderful glimpse of the past! I know this street well. The shops and stacks are long gone, leaving nothing but an empty lot.

[The buildings are still there. Including a smokestack. Below is a view of the Chet's Lunch address, 279 Middlesex Street. - Dave]

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Moxie in the West

You can actually get Moxie in L.A. from Galco's Soda Pop Stop. An Aussie expat, I just love the fact that I can also get Bundaberg ginger beer there too!

It's funny to see that the Moxie sign is larger than the Coke one, although its placement isn't as good, being down the street. It's also interesting to note the similarities such as red/white, and the word "Drink" leading into the logo.


Only someone who has drunk Moxie can equate it as a death wish! My great-grandfather ran a mill in Lowell and I had my first taste of Moxie as a child there. Of course I hated it and still do, but I keep a bottle in my fridge, for good luck, I guess. Out here on the West Coast no one knows what it is.

Lowell Mill

That's the Appleton Mill in the background.

Middlesex Street

I'm sure that's Middlesex Street and the mills in the background were built as the Hamilton Mills.

[Thanks! I updated the caption. Chet's Lunch was at 279 Middlesex. Click below to enlarge. Ad from 1941. - Dave]


Moxie tastes like motor oil mixed with Lavoris. It's the Guinness Stout of soft drinks.

It's America's oldest soft drink and used to be sold nationally until Coke knocked it out of its USA-wide throne.

The term "moxie" comes from the drink.

Check out the "New England Moxie Congress" website for great information.

I happen to love it and am glad to have friends from Eastern New England who bring cases of it to me here in Central New York. But for some stange reason you can get it at a beer and soda outlet in Bath PA!

Lowell Mill stacks

What a great photo! The beautiful thing about Kodachrome is that it seems to put a candy coating on even the bleakest scene. However...I know what's under those brilliant layers of dye. like my grandfather before me, I worked in one of those god-awful mills in Lowell in the 70's. I'd rather drown in Moxie than spend another day in a Lowell mill - in any time period!

The bricks...

I love how the near chimney has stripes for 1/2 its length. That's probably just a creative bricklayer realising that one batch in ten of his bricks was darker than the rest, and instead of mixing them together, took the opportunity to make his own mark on the structure.


I always felt that they took all the good tasting roots to make root beer, and with the nasty, gnarly stuff left over, they'd make Moxie. It has a serious aftertaste. And now, for masochists who are dieting, there is Diet Moxie.

Moxie is...

...possibly the most distinctive soft drink in the world. And by distinctive I mean it's an acquired taste for most people. This stuff makes all those "energy/sports" drinks taste like...well...soda pop. Think root beer, on steroids. And then there is that strange, lingering aftertaste. I think it's still pretty hard to find in most areas apart from some small east coast markets, but if you ever get a chance to sample it, try at least three tastes of it before you make up your mind. If the taste doesn't suit you, at least enjoy the wonderful aroma.

More about Moxie...


Yep. It's all one great big, cylindrical load-bearing wall.


I realize those are not unusual structures, but looking at the full-size image, it struck me that someone had to lay and mortar all bricks in those tall chimneys by hand.

i presume there's no machine that does such things.


It's kind of a cross between Coke, Dr Pepper and Tab. If I remember correctly, it has a bit of a bite. You can still get it in some places.

Moxie is a brand of soda,

Moxie is a brand of soda, and the name of my cat.

re: Moxie

It's a soda sold only in the Northeast. It's awful, but some people love it.


For those of us who live in the plains, what is Moxie?

Lowell Stacks

Awesome pic, i can really put myself there, but a time machine would be better. You can even see the cold in the air, i guess some things never change.

Great shot for us Lowellians

Nice followup to the recent Lowell pin boys photo (Les Mis)! Check out the Library of Congress' Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS/HAERS) collection for more photos of the mill buildings (in particular, Boott Mills).

Jack Kerouac's Hometown

Nice to see this picture of Jack's hometown during a period when he was probably still living there. Most appropriate for this On The Road 50th Anniversary year - and its big celebration in Lowell.

These Street Scenes...

...are often littered with Coca-Cola signs. And in fact there's a beautiful one here on the roof of the building. But it really warms my heart to see the Moxie sign in the lower left corner of this picture.


i always loved those old stacks . . . . . used to see them everywhere. hard now to believe they were routinely built across the country. to see them now, out of context, is so enigmatic.

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