City of Lowell uses artists from past to recast its image

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LOWELL, Mass. — This old city on the banks of the Merrimack River is best known for its long-closed textile mills. But it also wants to be known for its famous offspring.

Lowell is the birthplace of Bette Davis, as well as Jack Kerouac and the painter James Abbott McNeil Whistler. The entertainer Ed McMahon and the actor Michael Chiklis, who stars in the television series “The Shield,” were also born here. And the city, which has blossomed into a haven for artists, is highlighting its connection to these native sons and daughters to promote itself as an arts destination.

“We think it’s important that we make those connections between Bette Davis and the city of Lowell to highlight the cultural developments that are happening in the city,” said Bernie Lynch, the city manager. “We really feel that connection with Bette Davis and Whistler and Kerouac are indicative of the cultural fabric here in the city.”

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