Manchester, New Hampshire
Manchester is a city in southern New Hampshire, United States. It is the most populous city in northern New England (the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont). As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 109,565, and, in 2019, the population was estimated to be 112,673.
Manchester is, along with Nashua, one of two seats of New Hampshire's most populous county, Hillsborough County. Manchester lies near the northern end of the Northeast megalopolis and straddles the banks of the Merrimack River. It was first named by the merchant and inventor Samuel Blodgett, namesake of Samuel Blodget Park and Blodget Street in the city's North End. His vision was to create a great industrial center similar to that of the original Manchester in England, which was the world's first industrialized city.
Manchester often appears favorably in lists ranking the affordability and livability of U.S. cities, placing particularly high in small business climate, affordability, upward mobility, and education level.
Native Pennacook Indians called Amoskeag Falls on the Merrimack River—the area that became the heart of Manchester—Namaoskeag, meaning "good fishing place". In 1722, John Goffe III settled beside Cohas Brook, later building a dam and sawmill at what was dubbed "Old Harry's Town". It was granted by Massachusetts in 1727 as "Tyngstown" to veterans of Queen Anne's War who served in 1703 under Captain William Tyng. But at New Hampshire's 1741 separation from Massachusetts, the grant was ruled invalid and substituted with Wilton, Maine, resulting in a 1751 rechartering by Governor Benning Wentworth as "Derryfield"—a name that lives on in Derryfield Park, Derryfield Country Club, and the private Derryfield School.
In 1807, Samuel Blodget opened a canal and lock system to allow vessels passage around the falls, part of a network developing to link the area with Boston. He envisioned a great industrial center arising, "the Manchester of America", in reference to Manchester, England, then at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. In 1809, Benjamin Prichard and others built a water-powered cotton spinning mill on the western bank of the Merrimack. Apparently following Blodgett's suggestion, Derryfield was renamed "Manchester" in 1810, the year the mill was incorporated as the Amoskeag Cotton & Woolen Manufacturing Company. It would be purchased in 1825 by entrepreneurs from Massachusetts, expanded to three mills in 1826, and then incorporated in 1831 as the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company.
Amoskeag engineers and architects planned a model company town on the eastern bank, founded in 1838 with Elm Street as its main thoroughfare. Incorporation as a city followed for Manchester in 1846, soon home to the largest cotton mill in the world—Mill No. 11, stretching 900 feet (270 m) long by 103 feet (31 m) wide, and containing 4,000 looms. Other products made in the community included shoes, cigars, and paper. The Amoskeag foundry made rifles, sewing machines, textile machinery, fire engines, and locomotives in a division called the Amoskeag Locomotive Works (later, the Manchester Locomotive Works). The rapid growth of the mills demanded a large influx of workers, resulting in a flood of immigrants, particularly French Canadians. Many residents descend from these workers. The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company went out of business in 1935, although its red brick mills have been renovated for other uses. Indeed, the mill town's 19th-century affluence left behind some of the finest Victorian commercial, municipal, and residential architecture in the state.
Manchester is in south-central New Hampshire, 18 miles (29 km) south of Concord, the state capital, and the same distance north of Nashua, the second-largest city in the state. Manchester is 51 miles (82 km) north-northwest of Boston, the largest city in New England.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.0 square miles (90.6 km2), of which 33.1 square miles (85.7 km2) are land and 1.9 square miles (4.8 km2) are water, comprising 5.33% of the city. Manchester is drained by the Merrimack River and its tributaries the Piscataquog River and Cohas Brook. Massabesic Lake is on the eastern border. The highest point in Manchester is atop Wellington Hill, where the elevation reaches 570 feet (170 m) above sea level.
The Manchester Planning Board, in its 2010 Master Plan, defines 25 neighborhoods within the city. LivableMHT has drawn maps of the neighborhoods and neighborhood village centers as defined by the city. Recognition of particular neighborhoods varies, with some having neighborhood associations, but none have any legal or political authority.
The major neighborhoods, historically, include Amoskeag, Rimmon Heights, Notre Dame/McGregorville and Piscataquog/Granite Square also known as "Piscat" on the West Side; and the North End, Janeville/Corey Square, Hallsville and Bakersville on the East Side; along with Youngsville and Goffes Falls on the periphery of the city.
In 2007, the city began a Neighborhood Initiatives program to "insure that our neighborhoods are vibrant, livable areas since these are the portions of the city where most of the residents spend their time living, playing, shopping and going to school." The purpose of this initiative is to foster vibrancy and redevelopment in the neighborhoods, and to restore the sense of neighborhood communities that had been overlooked in the city for some time. The city began the program with street-scape and infrastructure improvements in the Rimmon Heights neighborhood of the West Side, which has spurred growth and investment in and by the community. Despite the success of the program in Rimmon Heights, it was unclear in recent years how the city planned to implement similar programs throughout the city. The city announced plans for extending the Neighborhood Initiatives program to the Hollow neighborhood in February 2012.
The urban core of Manchester extends beyond its city limits in several directions, particularly west and south of downtown, including:
Manchester has a four-season humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), with long, cold, snowy winters, and very warm and somewhat humid summers; spring and fall in between are crisp and relatively brief transitions. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 24.4 °F (−4.2 °C) in January to 72.5 °F (22.5 °C) in July. On average, there are 11 days of highs at or above 90 °F (32 °C) and 3.0 days of lows at or below 0 °F (−18 °C) annually. Precipitation is well-spread throughout the year, though winter is the driest season while early spring tends to be the wettest. Record temperatures range from −29 °F (−34 °C) on February 16, 1943, up to 103 °F (39 °C) on July 22, 2011.
The city is the center of the Manchester, New Hampshire, New England City and Town Metropolitan Area (NECTA MA), which had a population of 187,596 as of the 2010 census. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 109,565, and its 2018 population estimate was 112,525. The Manchester-Nashua metropolitan area, with an estimated population in 2015 of 406,678, is home to nearly one-third of the population of New Hampshire.
As of the census of 2010, there were 109,565 residents, 45,766 households, and 26,066 families in the city. The population density was 3,320.2 people per square mile (1,281.5/km2). There were 49,288 housing units at an average density of 1,493.6 per square mile (576.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.1% White, 4.1% Black or African American, 0.30% Native American, 3.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.1% from some other race, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.1% of the population. Non-Hispanic Whites were 82.0% of the population, down from 98.0% in 1980.
At the 2010 census, there were 45,766 households, out of which 26.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.4% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.0% were non-families. Of all households 32.4% were made up of individuals, and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 persons and the average family size was 2.99.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.6% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.6 males.
In 2011, the estimated median income for a household in the city was $51,082, and the median income for a family was $63,045. Male full-time workers had a median income of $43,583 versus $37,155 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,131. Of the population 14.1% and 9.6% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 21.8% were under the age of 18 and 9.9% were 65 or older.
Manchester often appears favorably in lists ranking the affordability and livability of U.S. cities. In 2015, CNNMoney.com ranked it #1 in the U.S. for small businesses, and in 2009, another site ranked Manchester 13th in a list of the 100 best cities in the U.S. to live and launch a business. In addition, Kiplinger voted Manchester the second most tax-friendly city in the U.S., second only to Anchorage, Alaska. Also in 2009, Forbes magazine ranked the Manchester region first on its list of "America's 100 Cheapest Places to Live." According to the Equality of Opportunity Project, released in 2013, Manchester ranked as the seventh best metropolitan area in the U.S. in terms of upward income mobility. In 2014, Forbes magazine ranked the city among the top 5 most educated cities in the United States.
Manchester is northern New England's largest city. Its economy has changed greatly, as Manchester was primarily a textile mill town throughout much of its history. In March 2009, Kiplinger voted Manchester the second most tax friendly city in the U.S., after Anchorage, Alaska. Earlier in the year, CNN rated Manchester 13th in its top 100 best places in the U.S. to live and launch a business. Manchester is nicknamed the Queen City, as well as the more recently coined "Manch Vegas". In 1998, Manchester was named the "Number One Small City in the East" by Money magazine. The Mall of New Hampshire, on Manchester's southern fringe near the intersection of Interstates 93 and 293, is the city's main retail center. In 2001, the Verizon Wireless Arena, a venue seating more than 10,000, opened for major concerts and sporting events, enhancing the city's downtown revitalization efforts with a major hotel and convention center already in place across the street from the arena. The building was renamed the SNHU Arena in 2016, after Manchester's Southern New Hampshire University.
As of 2017, the following organizations and companies were the largest employers in Manchester:
Downtown Manchester's One City Hall Plaza stands 22 stories high, quickly followed by the all-black, 20-story Brady Sullivan Plaza, formerly known as the Hampshire Plaza. They are the tallest New England buildings north of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Sullivan Plaza is shorter than City Hall Plaza by a mere 16 feet (4.9 m). Other major buildings include the 18-story Wall Street Apartments tower; the 14-story, recently renamed Brady Sullivan Tower, which was the former New Hampshire Insurance building; the 12-story DoubleTree Hotel and Convention Center Manchester (which serves the SNHU Arena across the street), the Carpenter Center (a former hotel), and the Hampshire Towers condominium building; the 10-story Citizens Bank Building, which was, for much of the early- and mid-20th century, Manchester's iconic Amoskeag Bank "skyscraper"; and several high-rises of or exceeding 10 stories on the city's West Side. This partial list only includes residential and commercial buildings and does not include hospitals, spires and domes, etc.
The SNHU Arena has become the centerpiece of downtown Manchester. The venue can seat slightly less than 12,000 patrons for concerts, and at least 10,000-seat configurations for sporting and other forms of entertainment. It has also hosted major recording artists and comedians, national touring theatrical productions, family-oriented shows, and fairs since it opened in 2001. The Northeast Delta Dental Stadium (formerly MerchantsAuto.com Stadium) is a baseball park on the Merrimack River in downtown Manchester and is home to the local AA baseball affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Historic Gill Stadium supported professional minor-league baseball into the early 21st century and continues to be a viable and popular downtown venue for many sporting and entertainment events, seating nearly 4,000 patrons, depending on the event format.
In recent years there has been continual redevelopment of the Amoskeag Millyard and its residential Historic District. The increasing popularity of downtown living has caused many properties originally built as tenement housing for mill workers in the 19th century to be converted to stylish, eclectic residential condominiums. Many new retail stores and higher education institutions, including the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, have been uniquely retro-fitted into properties along Commercial and Canal Street.
Manchester has three main retail areas: downtown Manchester, South Willow Street (NH Route 28), and Second Street (NH Route 3A) on the West Side. The Mall of New Hampshire is on South Willow Street, and, with more than 125 stores, is one of the largest shopping centers in southern New Hampshire and central New England.
Cultural landmarks include the historic Palace Theatre, the Currier Museum of Art, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, the Franco-American Center, the Manchester Historic Association Millyard Museum, the Massabesic Audubon Center, the Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center, the Lawrence L. Lee Scouting Museum and Max I. Silber Library, the Zimmerman House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the SEE Science Center. Valley Cemetery, the resting place of numerous prominent citizens since 1841, is an early example of a garden-style burial ground.
The John F. Kennedy Memorial Coliseum is another, smaller venue in downtown Manchester with a capacity of approximately 3,000 seats. It was completed in 1963, serves as home ice for the Manchester Central and Memorial High School hockey teams, and is home to the Southern New Hampshire Skating Club.
The nickname "ManchVegas" was derived from illegal gambling in local businesses during the late 1980s or early 1990s. Many pizza shops and local bars had video poker machines that would pay out real money. The nickname was coined following a citywide campaign of law enforcement. It was then adopted as a lampoon of the city's limited entertainment opportunities. The term has since become a source of pride as the city's entertainment scene has grown. By 2003, it was well enough known that a note on Virtualtourist.com said, "Residents reflect the regional dry humor by referring to sedate Manchester as 'ManchVegas'." By 2005, an article in Manchester's Hippo (a local alternative weekly) said that then-Mayor Robert A. Baines "is pushing to replace the nickname ManchVegas with Manchhattan" (meaning Manchester+Manhattan). In 2009, the film Monsters, Marriage and Murder in ManchVegas was released referencing Manchester's popular nickname and using much of the city as its backdrop.
Manchester has a growing collective of artists, due in large part to the influx of young students at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, Southern New Hampshire University, and the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. Slam Free or Die, New Hampshire's only weekly slam poetry venue, is in Manchester and was voted "Best Poetry Venue in the World"  by readers of Write Bloody Publishing.
The Manchester City Library has served the city's residents since the mid-1850s and has been housed in the Carpenter Memorial Building on Pine Street since 1914. There is a branch location on North Main Street on the West Side.
Manchester is the only city in New Hampshire with a professional sports team: three-time Eastern League champions, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, play at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. From 2001 to 2015, the Manchester Monarchs played in the American Hockey League. In their final season in Manchester, the Monarchs won the league championship. From 2015 to 2019, the city hosted the lower-division Manchester Monarchs in the ECHL.
The following is a list of Manchester's professional and minor-league sports teams.
Manchester is incorporated as a city under the laws of the state of New Hampshire, and operates under a strong mayoral form of government. The mayor serves as chairman of the fourteen-member Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the city's legislative body. Each of Manchester's twelve wards elects a single alderman, and two additional at-large members are elected citywide. Joyce Craig is the current mayor.
The mayor also serves as the chair of the board of school committee. Like the board of aldermen, the school board has twelve members elected by ward and two at-large members. The school board is not a city department; rather, it is a school district coterminous with the city, which obtains financing from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
In the New Hampshire Executive Council, Manchester is included within the 4th District and is represented by Republican Ted Gatsas, the city's former mayor. Manchester is included within New Hampshire's 1st congressional district and is represented by Democrat Chris C. Pappas.
At the presidential level, Manchester leans substantially Democratic. George W. Bush narrowly carried the city by 170 votes in 2004, but no other presidential elections since then have been nearly as close.
Manchester's public school system is run by the Manchester School District. Manchester School District has four public high schools:
Manchester School District has four public middle schools and fourteen elementary schools.
Area institutions of higher education, together enrolling more than 8,000 students, include:
Manchester is on the northern edge of the Boston television market. The following stations are based in Greater Manchester:
A direct highway access with the airport connects the Everett Turnpike just south of the city with the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport via a connector road crossing the Merrimack River known as Raymond Wieczorek Drive (in honor of a former Manchester mayor instrumental in getting the access road built). The connector road also intersects with highways U.S. 3 and NH 3A.
The Manchester Transit Authority runs several bus routes throughout the city and surrounding areas. Concord Coach and Boston Express run commuter services to Boston and other parts of the state. Vermont Transit Lines (affiliated with Greyhound Lines) has lines to Montreal. In 2008, Boston Express moved to suburb Londonderry, New Hampshire, and now provides limited service to downtown Manchester.
Into the 1950s, numerous Boston and Maine Railroad trains operated out of Manchester Union Station, going to points northwest as far as Montreal, north to Woodsville, east to Portsmouth and south to Boston, among these the Alouette and the Ambassador (both of these being Boston - Montreal trains). The last services were a once a day train between Boston and Concord; this service ended in 1967.
The possibility of returning train service, with Manchester being served by the "Capital Corridor", an extension of the MBTA commuter rail from its current terminus in Lowell, Massachusetts, to Concord, which would also include a stop at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, is being studied by the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority and New Hampshire Department of Transportation, which have received federal funding for studying and planning the route. The Capital Corridor route is also being studied as a possible future high-speed rail line connecting Montreal and Boston. The Manchester-Nashua area is one of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the United States without Amtrak service.
With the expansion of Interstate 93 to eight lanes from Salem to Manchester under construction, space is being reserved in the median for potential future commuter or light rail service along this corridor. The I-93 transit study also suggested restoring service on the Manchester and Lawrence branch for commuter and freight rail. This corridor would support freight rail along with commuter, something that light rail cannot do.
In late 2011, Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and owner of several buildings in the Millyard, as well as co-founder of FIRST, proposed a rail loop for downtown and the Millyard. Several meetings have been held with area business and property owners, city officials and local developers, but the idea is in the early conceptual stages.
The downtown rail loop, if approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, would be about three miles long. The loop would go from the Manchester Millyards, down south for about half a mile, then turn over Elm Street, separate into two rails (the other going towards Manchester-Boston Regional Airport), and climb north to Bridge Street, ending at the Brady Sullivan Tower at the northern end of Elm Street. More concrete plans were revealed in 2018.
Law enforcement is provided by the Manchester Police Department. The Manchester police station is at 405 Valley Street on the corner of Valley and Maple.
The Hillsborough County Department of Corrections is at 445 Willow Street. The prison houses an average of 500 inmates.
The city of Manchester is protected all year by the 200 paid, professional firefighters (IAFF Local 856) of the City of Manchester Fire Department. The department is commanded by a Chief of Department, Daniel Goonan, one Assistant Chief, and five District Chiefs. The Manchester Fire Department operates out of ten fire stations throughout the city, and operates a fire apparatus fleet of ten engines, four ladder trucks (two staffed/two cross-manned by the engine), one rescue, and one district chief (two if manpower permits). The Manchester Fire Department responds to over 26,000 emergency calls annually.