The oceanfront community of Lynn is famous for its shoe manufacturing, for pioneering developments in electronics and for the 19th century reformers who lived there. Exhibits and tours highlight the innovation and industry of Lynn, the turn-of-the-century shoemaking capital of the U.S. Compare the craft and tools of a hand made shoe with a factory made shoe. Experience the struggle of shoe workers during the Strike of 1860. Find out why Lydia Pinkham’s medicinals were known the world over. A boardwalk stroll at the nearby Waterfront Park features an extraordinary mosaic mural on Lynn's history.
Settled in 1629, Lynn flourished as a plantation and site to early leather and iron industries. Shoemaking began in 1635 as a traditional hand craft, often done at home during the winter. In 1750, Welsh immigrant John Adam Dagyr introduced local shoemakers to improved techniques of making high quality women’s shoes. By the early 1800s, shoemaking had become a prosperous industry, supplying the nation through nearby maritime ports. Machinery introduced in the 1850’s ushered in the modern shoe factory, creating work opportunities that attracted labor from all over New England and later from Europe.
In 1882, Elihu Thomson brought a thriving electrical business to Lynn. These included manufacturing industrial motors and arc lighting. His ground-breaking experiments with electricity led to the formation of General Electric with Thomas Edison in 1892. Shoemaking declined in the 1920s and 30s while General Electric expanded. During World War II the nation’s first jet engine was built under great secrecy at the Lynn plant. These fascinating stories and more are included in the Visitors Center exhibits.