Massachusetts : Safety by City
- Cape Cod
- Fall River
- Martha’s Vineyard
- New Bedford
Named after a local businessman, Francis Cabot Lowell, the city of Lowell was incorporated as a mill town in 1826.
The area became known as the cradle of the American Industrial Revolution because of its many textile mills and factories.
By the 1850s, Lowell had the most significant industrial complex in the United States.
Cradled by Interstate Highway 495 and state highway 3, Lowell sits where the Merrimack and Concord rivers cross.
It is 33 miles to Boston by land and 30 miles by sea.
Now home to three University of Massachusetts campuses and Middlesex Community College, Lowell is a young city, with a median age of 30 years old for its 150,000 people.
In 2010, Lowell was designated a “Green Community” in recognition of its pledge to cut municipal energy use.
It draws on nearby Boston for its national sports teams.
However, Lowell has a strong boxing history and a beautiful natural setting.
The art and entertainment community is vibrant with facilities and galleries in the city, including the Whistler House Museum of Art and the Merrimack Repertory Theatre.
Warnings & Dangers in Lowell
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Overall, Lowell is a moderately safe city. Based on FBI crime data, Lowel has 8% higher violent crime than the national average and is 10% higher in robbery, theft, and muggings relative to Massachusetts. Criminal activity in Lowell affects 1 in 30.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Lowell has national and local taxi, bus, train, and rideshare companies. Before accepting a service, verify your fare. To stay safe, confirm legitimate transportation companies and be aware of the people around you. Best practices include counting the expected amount of a cab fare or bus fare before boarding, preventing a traveler from flashing cash.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
In Lowell, robbery and petty theft are the most common crimes. Pickpockets usually target wallets, cell phones, and other valuables from people's clothing and bags. To minimize chances of being a victim, keep valuables close and do not set purses or backpacks on the backs of chairs.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Lowell, Massachusetts sits north of Boston proper. Storms known as Nor-Easters, intense storms can create deep snows during the Winter and damaging winds and rain during the summer. Keeping up with local weather reports and emergency services is recommended.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
A mugging is a theft from a person in public. Lowell crime rates have decreased over the past few years but remain high compared to Massachusetts and the United States, according to police statistics. The best possible defense to being mugged is to be aware of your surroundings and conceal all valuables.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Terrorists are individuals or groups inspired to act by a specific ideology. These attacks usually target public areas. Lowell stands a medium risk for general attacks because of its location on the upper East Coast of the United States. Following instructions and staying up to date on local news can protect you from danger.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are few, if any, scams associated with Lowell. The exception would be panhandling, a widespread problem and beggars can be quite aggressive in some areas.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There is a reasonable risk of muggings and theft regardless of gender. The danger in Lowell, specifically for women, is low or equal compared to most cities.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The City of Lowell water supply for Lowell's Water Treatment Plant is the surface water from the Merrimack River, sourced in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Lowell Regional Water purifies 4.6 billion gallons annually and is certified safe.
Safest Places to Visit in Lowell
Residents of Lowell consider the south part of the city the safest, with fewer reported crime cases – 111 per year.
There are plenty of perfectly safe neighborhoods around Lowell, including Pawtucketville, upper Belvidere, upper Highlands, and upper Centreville.
During the day, Lowell is an outdoor playground with parks, riverfront areas, canals, brooks, and streams that blanket the area.
The Vandenberg Esplanade offers walking, biking, swimming, and picnicking along the banks of the Merrimack River.
Historic Downtown offers numerous museums and galleries, including the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, the New England Quilt Museum, the National Streetcar Museum, and the Sampas Outdoor Pavilion.
One of the most famous Lowell residents is Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac, also known as Jack Kerouac, an American novelist and poet credited as a pioneer of the Beat Generation.
His childhood home is open to the public at 9 Lupine Road.
His grave is in Edison Cemetery.
Another famous Lowellite can trace her history to the Highlands section of Lowell.
At 22 Chester Street sits the modest birthplace of actress Bette Davis.
Places to Avoid in Lowell
Generally, according to Lowell police crime statistics, downtown Lowell and the northern part of the city are the most dangerous.
Throughout the 1990s, Lowell was notorious for being a place of high drug trafficking and gang activity.
However, within ten years and an aggressive collaborative effort from law enforcement and city officials, the crime rate dropped over 50 percent.
Lowell’s 75 parks and designated recreational areas, while they provide entertainment and beauty, also have a higher crime potential.
Based on crimes reported, some neighborhoods and areas of concern include Downtown Lowell, many areas along Merrimack Avenue, and the streets along the canals and warehouses around the Tsongas Center, Princeton Village, and Belvidere.
Other places to take precautions include Wamaset.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Lowell
- Get to know your destination. Do your research before you arrive. Walking around focusing on a map, even if it’s on your phone, lets everyone know you are a tourist and a potential victim.
- Take a Cab. If you are unsure where you are going, it is best and safest to grab a legitimate car service such as a taxi. Don’t accept rides from strangers or someone who walks up to you on the street.
- Scheduled Regular Check-ins. If you are traveling domestically, either for fun or work, let your circle know where you are going. If you are traveling internationally, checking in via a free service such as Skype or WeChat is a good option. Several apps on the market provide unique possibilities for solo or women travelers.
- Know who to call in an emergency. Anywhere in the United States -CALL 911. Also, putting your hotel number and, if international, the embassy number on your phone when you arrive is a good idea.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Earbuds are great technology but tend to make you miss your bus stop, forget things at the table, or distract you from current events or surroundings. Distracted people are likely victims of crimes of opportunity.
- Copy important information. Carry digital copies of essential documents on your phone or computer USB and keep hard copies somewhere safe just in case. Most larger hotels have in-room safes.
- Beware the public wi-fi. Consider using a VPN or a personal hotspot to keep information safe and protect essential passwords.
- Skip the flash. Shiney things grab the wrong kind of attention -singling a person out as a victim of a crime. Don’t flash your cash.
- Everything is in moderation. Alcohol impairs a person’s judgment, which can cause confusion and increase their risk of being a victim.
- Know your embassy. To be contacted in an emergency, enroll in the US State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
So... How Safe Is Lowell Really?
Lowell is relatively safe.
The city is primarily policed and protected by the Lowell Police Department, the University Police, UMass Lowell, and the National Park Service Police.
Overall, Lowell’s crime rates are 8 percent higher than the national average, with property crimes on par with the national average.
Lowell registers a crime every 3 hours and 50 minutes.
While specific areas may be more dangerous, overall, crime in Lowell is down approximately 10% year over year.
Be cautious when traveling, minimize your cash, and stay with a group and in lighted areas.
Always be aware of your environment and be careful of people that approach you unexpectedly.
As with all cities, some areas are at higher crime risk than others.
People in Lowell consider the east part of the city the safest.
However, higher crime is reported near Trull Road and Andover Street directly east of the town.
Areas bordering the University of Massachusetts and Clemente Park have also reported higher overall crime rates.
Surprisingly, the waterfront areas report low crime statistics.
Overall, more crimes occur in the north – about 411 per year.
The south part of Lowell has fewer crime cases – 111 in a year.
Panhandlers and pickpockets are typical in downtown Lowell, especially around The Acre – a popular retail and restaurant area between campus and Downtown.
How Does Lowell Compare?
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- Visas - Start early. The United States visa process takes time. Most international tourists can travel visa-free to the United States because of a basic non-immigrant reciprocity policy requiring only a passport and purchase declaration. The process is simple for those requiring tourist visas costing 160 USD. Student and work visas require additional information. If there are specific questions about a visa type or the status of a visa application, contact the local United States embassy for more detailed information.
- Currency - The currency in Lowell is the same throughout the United States, the United States dollar, abbreviated USD. An easy hack to quickly exchange foreign currency for United States dollars is withdrawing cash from a bank ATM. Airport kiosks and most national or international banks can assist with currency exchange. Nationwide, hotel chains usually help to cash travelers' checks and exchange cash. Most business locations accept credit and debit cards if you cannot immediately find a bank. Lowell is comparable in cost to most cities of 100,000 people. An average day in Lowell will cost about $150.
- Weather - Lowell is a New England town with a four-season humid climate. Temperatures range from -16 °F (-30 °C) to 83 °F (40 °C). Precipitation occurs year-round, averaging 48 inches of rain and 56 inches of snow annually. When packing for Lowell, think in layers, and always bring a sweater, hoodie, or weatherproof jacket and pocket umbrella.
- Airports - There are two airports, one international and one full-service regional, within 30 minutes of downtown Lowell. The first, Boston Logan International airport (BOS / KBOS) and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT / KMHT). Worcester Regional Airport (ORH / KORH) and Portsmouth International Airport at Pease (PSM / KPSM) are a bit further out. Taxis, city buses, and rideshare companies service all airports.
- Travel Insurance - Regardless of where you travel, buying travel insurance is highly recommended. A travel insurance policy covers general sickness, significant medical emergencies, and related expenses. Travel insurance may also cover the loss or theft of luggage and valuables. Don't forget to read the policy carefully before purchasing.
Lowell Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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