Lynn is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 90,329 at the 2010 census. An old industrial center, Lynn is home to Lynn Beach and Lynn Heritage State Park and is about north of downtown Boston.
The area known as Lynn was first settled in 1629 by Edmund Ingalls (d. 1647), followed by John Tarbox of Lancashire in 1631, whose descendants still reside in New England. The city was incorporated in 1631 as Saugus, the Nipmuck name for the area. The name Lynn was given to the area after King's Lynn, Norfolk, England, in honor of Samuel Whiting. A noteworthy colonist, Thomas Halsey left Lynn to settle the eastern end of Long Island and founded the town of Southampton New York. The Halsey House is the oldest frame house in the state of New York (1648), and along with the homestead it is open to the public and managed by the Southampton Colonial Society.
After Lynn's resettlement, many of its areas gradually separated into independent towns. Reading was created in 1644, Lynnfield in 1782, Saugus in 1815, Swampscott in 1852, and Nahant in 1853. Lynn was incorporated as a city in 1850.
Colonial Lynn was a major part of the regional tannery and shoe-making industries that began in 1635. The boots worn by Continental Army soldiers during the Revolutionary War were made in Lynn. The shoe-making industry drove urban growth in Lynn into the early nineteenth century. This historic theme is reflected in the city seal, which features a colonial boot.
In 1816, a mail stage coach was operating through Lynn. By 1836, 23 stage coaches left the Lynn Hotel for Boston each day. The Eastern Railroad Line between Salem and East Boston opened on August 28, 1838. This was later merged with the Boston and Maine Railroad and called the Eastern Division. In 1847 telegraph wires passed through Lynn, but no telegraph service station was built until 1858.
Lynn Shoe manufacturers, led by Charles A. Coffin and Silas Abbott Barton, invested in the early electric industry, specifically in 1883 with Elihu Thomson and his Thomson-Houston Electric Company. That company merged with Edison Electric Company of Schenectady, New York, forming General Electric in 1892, with the two original GE plants being in Lynn and Schenectady. Charles A. Coffin served as the first president of General Electric. Elihu Thomson later served as acting president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1920 to 1923.
Initially the General Electric plant specialized in arc lights, electric motors, and meters. Later it specialized in aircraft electrical systems and components, and aircraft engines were built in Lynn during WWII. That engine plant evolved into the current jet engine plant during WWII because of research contacts at MIT in Cambridge. Gerhard Neumann was a key player in jet engine group at GE in Lynn. The continuous interaction of material science research at MIT and the resulting improvements in jet engine efficiency and power have kept the jet engine plant in Lynn ever since.
Lynn's population peaked around 1930 at just over 102,000; the population today is roughly where it was in 1910. The median household income for Lynn is well below the statewide average.
Lynn suffered several large fires in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including a devastating inferno among former shoe factories at Broad and Washington Streets on November 28, 1981. The blaze destroyed 17 downtown buildings undergoing redevelopment, with property losses totaling in the tens of millions of dollars. The site has since been largely redeveloped into a satellite campus of North Shore Community College.
Due to a reputation for high crime that has persisted since the beginning of industrialization, a taunting rhyme about Lynn has been known throughout Eastern Massachusetts ("Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin, you'll never come out the way you went in, what looks like gold is really tin, the girls say 'no' but they'll give in, Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin"). Another popular saying, was "Lynn, Lynn the city of sin: if you ain't bad, you can't get in!". In order to end the popular chant, city solicitor Michael Barry proposed renaming the city to Ocean Park in 1997, but this failed to pass.
Lynn remains home to a division of General Electric Aviation, a major employer; the West Lynn Creamery (now part of Dean Foods's Garelick Farms unit); C. L. Hauthaway & Sons, a polymer producer; Old Neighborhood Foods, a meat packer; Lynn Manufacturing, a maker of combustion chambers for the oil and gas heating industry; Sterling Machine Co.; and Durkee-Mower, makers of "Marshmallow Fluff".
In order to counter the reputation as "the city of sin", Lynn created an advertising campaign in the early 1990s to improve the city's image. The "City Of Firsts" campaign boasted that Lynn had the:
Later, some of these claims were found to be inaccurate or unprovable. (For example, the first baseball game under artificial light appears to have actually occurred in Indiana.)
The first wave of immigration began in the early 1900s when many Jewish people emigrated from the Russian Empire (mostly from Ukraine) to Lynn; Lynn thus became home to one of the largest Russian-speaking communities in the North Shore. Today, with one quarter of its residents of Hispanic origin, it joins nearby East Boston and Chelsea as an important center of the Latino community of the Boston area.
In the early 2000s, a number of new development projects have contributed to what officials hope will be the city's renaissance. Industrial buildings that were formerly vacant have been converted into loft spaces by real estate developers, and bought by young home-buyers who seek the urban lifestyle of Boston proper, but can't afford the higher prices of Boston's South End and similar neighborhoods. Encouraged by local developer Tom Kennedy, New Urbanist architect Robert Orr proposed a series of charettes for the redevelopment of Lynn's waterfront in conjunction with Lynnfield Engineering. City Hall is encouraging the community's resurgence, with new antique-style lighting, signage, brickwork, and a multipurpose municipal football stadium.
In late 2009, Judith Flanagan Kennedy became mayor by a margin of only 27 votes (out of a vote total of over 16,000), beating out two-term incumbent mayor Edward J. Clancy.