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Market Street

February 8, 2013
Market Street

Looking up Market Street in Lowell Massachusetts
as Nemo spreads snow over the city.

One scene from Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography has remained in my mind. He is young, perhaps not yet 20 years old. He comes off a boat that brought him to Philadelphia. He’s tired, hungry and broke. It’s early Sunday morning. He walks up Market Street. He has just enough money to buy bread. He tears pieces and eats as he walks.

I am heard to say, fairly often, that I never get the details of a story, only the gist. There is precious little detail I remember of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, which I remember fascinating me as I read it. But that human scene showing him worn from travel, fed by a basic food, and wandering up Market Street has never left my mind. He says in the book that he told the story with purpose – to make clear the humble beginnings he had in a city on which he left an impressive mark.

I’ve visited Philadelphia several times. After reading Franklin’s biography, I have made sure to visit Market Street when I’ve since returned. I love to look down the now-a-day Market Street and try to imagine what it looked like as he walked up its hill from the boat.

The scene in the book, though read when I was an adult, brought to light in my mind the origins of “market” street in a port or any city. Here a traveler would find  the necessities for survival. How the meaning of this street name had never before occurred to me, I don’t know.

My life’s journey has brought me this evening to Market Street in Lowell, Massachusetts, an industrial mill city built in the early 1800s, where tonight I look out my window at a blizzard (Nemo). I shot the photo above a few hours ago. Far up the street in the center of the photo is a renovated mill building and on the left side, two mill smoke stacks rise ghostly into the sky.

In the lower right side of the photo, attached to the brick facade, is a small oval sign. It is the sign of Market Street Market (shown below in daytime). When I see that sign, I think of Franklin’s story, I think of markets – streets of markets, clusters of markets, markets all around the world and throughout all time – markets that sustain humans by providing basic needs. I’m comforted to know a market is steps away as weather conditions will limit my driving, off Market Street, for a day or two. Like Franklin, I won’t go hungry.

Market Street MarketLowell, MA

Market Street Market
Lowell, MA

3 Comments leave one →
  1. awriterweavesatale permalink
    February 12, 2013 8:06 am

    I’ve only been there once and remember the streets as charming. Another, earlier time, and could imagine gas lamps on the streets:) or maybe it was so long ago I’m romanticizing. we don’t travel much for some reason….thanks for your comment on my post. Yes, I try to treasure these snow days especially as their school used them all up with hurricane Sandy!


  2. February 10, 2013 6:14 am

    Beautiful photo. Beautiful connection to another place and time. And yes… isolation is only cozy when you have your needs covered. …and maybe other options too.



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