Stories and Photos About the History and Culture of Manchester, New Hampshire

Manchester, New Hampshire has a long and exciting history—dating back to the Pennacook Native American tribe, who resided along the Merrimack River and fished at Amoskeag Falls. Much later, Henry David Thoreau would pass by this same spot, later recounting his experiences in the area in A Week On the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

Originally the town of Derryfield, Manchester got its current name in 1810 after the death of Samuel Blodget, who in 1797 said, in effect, “I see a city on the banks of this river that shall one day rival Manchester in England as an industrial power.” Indeed, the town went on to become a booming mill city—at one point being the largest textile producer in the world. Even after the mills went out of business, Manchester still drew residents of New Hampshire in for shopping, dining, and more.

Now, as tech companies move into the Millyard and breathe new life into those iconic brick buildings, and old storefronts along Elm Street are rebirthed into new restaurants, retail stores, and more—we recount with fondness memories of Manchester’s past, while also paying homage to the revitalizations happening today.

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Crafts Brothers Manchester New Hampshire

It may seem early, but as Presidential candidates begin to descend upon New Hampshire in ever increasing numbers, the spectacular NH Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College becomes an important cog in the wheel that is the Presidential Primary. What very few of those Presidential candidates know, however, is that the NHIOP – this

Nothing like a little city driving to put the hyper in hypertension. Yup, nothing like five or six leisurely hours behind the wheel – let’s say on South Willow Street – to pump your diastolic pressure into triple digits, after which you won’t need Mr. Goodwrench to by-pass the carburetor and shift the internal combustion

I read somewhere that good writers borrow but great writers steal, so, purely in the interest of advancing my career, I feel totally comfortable – not to mention upwardly-mobile – in saying that now is the winter of our discontent.

A Box Car Recalls 250 Tons of Thanks

Tucked away on a short, dead-end stretch of Reed Street on Manchester’s West Side, there is an unusual —some would say extraordinary – token of affection from the people of France.

Manchester Town Pound

Having given the matter several days of deep thought, I have concluded that there simply aren’t a lot of Famous Doors in the world unless you count Jim Morrison who, when last we checked, was dead.

Manchester NH Calumet Club

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As citizens of the world, we are all heavily indebted to the people of Greece for things like culture, democracy and lamb kabobs, although personally, I am not yet ready to forgive them for the Pythagorean theorem.

Clayton’s Elm Street doggerell

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through downtown, Not a creature was stirring, Elm Street was shut down. Oh, the road? Sure it’s open – try to cross if you dare – But most of the widows and store fronts are bare.

Manchester Trivia

So you think you know Manchester? We shall see. Herewith, a 10-question Manchester trivia test (although I will admit that some of the questions are as much minutiae as trivia). Some of the answers are painfully obvious, others can be sussed out pretty easily and still others are just plain old stinkers).

Beware the Canals of Amoskeag

Because of my romantic fixation upon the city of my birth, I have a glorious photograph of the Millyard in my bedroom. The photo was taken by Randolph Langenbach, who used his camera in collaboration with historian Tamara Hareven, the result being a book called “Amoskeag: Life and Work in an American Factory City.”

This site gives me a chance to share stories about the people and moments that made Manchester, New Hampshire what it is today.

For people like my wife and I who are relatively new to the city, we've experienced what most new residents and even tourists discover as they spend more time here—a series of revelations about Manchester’s incredible history. You hear stories about how neglected the Millyard was in the 1960s and 1970s and how there once were canals that ran through what is now Canal and Commercial Streets. Then you ask yourself, "Why did they build canals?", and "Why are they gone?". These questions lead to Google searches and visits to places like that Millyard Museum that reveal stories about the the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, the booming textile industry, locomotive and fire engine manufacturing, Pine Island Park, Trollies down Elm Street, and long-forgotten theaters.

Manchester has a mixed history of historical preservation and short-sighted demolition, but as you walk down Elm Street or through the Millyard today you still see echoes of the past through faded murals, revitalized brick buildings, and streets named for the men who built and made Manchester what it is today.

Turns out I'm not a writer, and I don't write stories. I'm a designer. So, I needed to find someone to tell that story. So I asked the Executive Director of the Millyard Museum, and former Union Leader Writer, John Clayton if he would help in providing stories that could help city newcomers like myself, as well as Manchester natives, better understand the history of our beloved city. Lucky for you and me he said yes. I hope this can become a great online archive of short stories, photos, and fond memories that tell the story of Manchester.

– John Hofstetter