I didn't know about it until I caught the headline in the Sun today at the Brazilian place in Kearney Square, but the New York Times recently ranked the top 25 Northeast getaways, and put the Mill City third among all the listings, which included everything from beach towns in New Jersey to Civil War battlefield sites to breathtaking national parks. (In case you're wondering, the two that came out ahead of Lowell were "Maine's southern beaches" and "Newburyport, Mass."
Here's the Sun piece:
And here's the Times article, too: http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/07/04/travel/escapes/04short.html?scp=1&sq=Lowell%2C+MA&st=nyt
The article was pretty short and each destination only got a paragraph or so. But one thing I'll tack on to what it already said was something I heard two friends remark after coming up here for the long Fourth of July weekend -- the type of diversity.
I say 'type' of diversity because I think in some contexts, 'diversity' can easily just become another buzzword that lacks any real meaning. It can become something forced (i.e. in a city like Cambridge, where you have to be either really rich or really poor to 'afford' to live there, if that makes any sense), or it can become something obnoxiously self-referential, as it is at an elite university that constantly highlights its 'diversity' in a self-congratulatory sort of way.
No, something they both witnessed -- at Community Christian Fellowship but also in Lowell in general, is that the place just sort of 'is' diverse.
As a couple of my neighbors have already observed, Nick and Frank quickly noticed that people who live here run the gamut of national backgrounds, religions, races, and ideologies and they aren't separated by any clear geographic fault lines.
Of course, there are some neighborhoods and establishments with a predominant ethnic representation, but that has more to do with natural clustering than with some type of a "this is our table, you go sit at yours" mentality.
The 'type' of diversity that is allowed to just sort of happen on its own is what I'd call the real thing.
And it's too bad that it's not more common in other communities.