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ManchesterNH:History

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Thumbnail history of Manchester, New HampshireEdit

Incorporated as a city in 1846, Manchester is nicknamed the Queen City.

Historically, Manchester is important as a textile manufacturing center. The world's largest textile factory was once located along the Merrimack River.

In fact, Manchester is named after the much bigger city of Manchester, in Lancashire, England, which was known as the world's biggest industrial center in the 1840s. City fathers hoped to emulate that success. (The town was originally called "Derryfield." There are still towns named Derry and Londonderry in the state.)

The influence of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company on the city's history would be hard to overstate. Company officials laid out the street plan of Manchester in the 1840s, one of the first cities to be planned systematically. They donated the land for a 40-acre "garden" cemetery, the Valley Cemetery, and of course, built stunning brick mills along the banks of the Merrimack for the manufacture of textiles.

The mills attracted a large immigrant population, mostly French-Canadians, but from elsehwere as well, mostly from Eastern Europe and Ireland.

However, by the 1930s, the industrial might of the city was winding down, and the Amoskeag mills closed. A major flood of the Merrimack River that year, and a horrific hurricane in 1938 didn't help matters.

The 1980s saw hard times for the city, as most of the state's major banks - headquartered in Manchester - went bankrupt in a recession.

Starting in the late 1960s, as in most major cities, Manchester's downtown shopping district had begun to be hollowed out by larger stores in the south end of town.

The 1977 arrival of the Mall of New Hampshire, on Manchester's southern fringe, greatly accellerated this trend, and it has become the city's retail hub. Over the years, South Willow Street has changed from a residential area to the main shopping district.

However, the millyard has experienced a renaissance over the last 20 years, attracting many high-tech companies. One of them, DEKA, the company of inventor Dean Kamen, who gained fame for inventing the Segway.

In 1998, Manchester was named the "Number One Small City in the East" by Money magazine.

The city has seemed to be on an upswing for the past decade, with the arrival of a hockey team, Arena Football team and minor league baseball team.

The Verizon Wireless Arena opened in November, 2001. It hosts a variety of events, from sports such as hockey and arena football to concerts and fairs. Like the arena, the 2005 opening of the new baseball stadium was also welcomed as a "draw" for visitors to Manchester from across the state, and from other states as well.

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