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History of Manchester, New Hampshire

Manchester is the largest city in New Hampshire and its most important manufacturing center. It is situated on the Merrimack River at the mouth of the Piscataquog, 15 miles south of the state capital of Concord. At one time, Manchester boasted the largest cotton mills in the world. The location of Manchester was determined by the Amoskeag Falls on the Merrimack, which has been the source of waterpower that drove Manchester's growth. The falls originally attracted the Penacook Indians, and it is thought that John Eliot preached to them in the middle of the 17th century. The first white settlers in the area arrived around 1722. Fishing was the principal occupation at first, but Judge Samuel Blodget saw the possibilities inherent in the falls. He planned and executed the construction of the first canal around the falls, so that in combination with the Middlesex Canal in Massachusetts, a navigable waterway was available to Boston. The first cotton mills were established in 1805. The original name of the settlement was Harrytown, later changed to Derryfield, and finally to Manchester in 1810. It was incorporated as a city in 1846. General John Stark, a soldier in the Revolutionary War, lived in Manchester and is buried there. The John Stark House, where he lived from 1758 to 1765, still stands. The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester offers exhibits of European and American art. The museum also owns the Zimmerman House, the only house in New England designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and open to the public. The oldest college in Manchester is Saint Anselm College, founded in 1889. Other institutions include Chester College of New England (in nearby Chester) and the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. Notre Dame College closed in 2002 due to financial difficulties after 50 years of service.