Known today as the capital of Hillsborough County, the city is the tenth largest city in the entire state of New England. It is located near the Merrimack River and is the state’s largest city in northern New England. Manchester is split into two distinct sections by the Merrimack River. In 1807, Samuel Blodget opened a canal around the Falls to create an industrial center similar to that of Manchester, England. After this, Benjamin Prichard and others built a cotton spinning mill on the western bank of the Merrimack River using water power.
Amoskeag Mill companies dominated the early development of Manchester and the surrounding region. The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, which began in 1809 in the town of Goffstown, would eventually become the world’s largest textile manufacturer. Many local families worked in the mills and received 30 cents a day. Today, the Amoskeag Millyard Museum is home to an exhibit entitled “Woven in Time: 11,000 Years at Amoskeag Falls”.
The city has four distinct seasons: cold, long winters and warm, partly humid summers. The climate changes from season to season with crisp transitions. The temperatures range from 24.4 degF in January to 72.5 degrees in July. There are only a few days when temperatures are below zero. Precipitation is widely distributed throughout the year. Snowfall, typically delivered by nor’easters, averages 47 inches a season and varies year to year.
The city has a population of 109,687. It has three main shopping areas: downtown Manchester, South Willow Street, and Second Street on the West Side. South Willow Street contains the Mall of New Hampshire, which is the largest shopping center in southern and central New England. The city also is home to the McIntyre Ski Area, which opened in 1971. The city is home to several college sports teams. Whether it’s rugby, soccer, or football, Manchester is sure to entertain you.
The city’s skyline is dotted with impressive buildings. Two of the tallest buildings in the city are the One City Hall Plaza and Brady Sullivan Tower. The former is home to the SNHU Arena, and the latter serves as the town’s convention center. The former Manchester Opera House, also known as the Strand, is another prominent landmark. The City Hall Plaza building, at 900 Elm Street, is the tallest building in Manchester, the state capital, and all of New England cities north of Cambridge.
The town’s history is a rich one. In the seventeenth century, the town was home to the first white settlers, John & Christiana McNEIL, who settled near the Falls. Their house stood between Elm and Canal streets, on what was known as the “Kidder Farm”. This was the sixth grant to be included within Manchester’s limits. A saw-mill, built on Cohas Brook east of Harvey’s mills, was the first mill in Manchester, but was destroyed by sparks from burning wood.
After the Civil War, the city’s economy began to grow. The first town meeting was held in the Amherst Street hall. In 1842, the first town-house was built on the corner of Elm and Market streets and cost seventeen thousand dollars. The Episcopal society built a wooden church on Elm Street that became known as St. Michael’s, later known as Grace Church. In 1849, W.H. Kimball and Joseph Kidder published the first issue of the Manchester Democrat.