The Story of Lowell
For one hundred and thirty years our Historical Lowell Neighborhood has lived and transformed as the City of Fresno grew around us. The Historical Lowell Neighborhood bounds itself by Divisadero Street (to the South), Belmont Avenue (to the North), Blackstone Avenue (to the East), and is pinched off to the west by the intersection of Highway 180 and Highway 99 creating a triangle to the north of Downtown. From its birth in 1884, the Historical Lowell Neighborhood has always been a mixture of diversity and it’s this diversity that continues to keep the neighborhood a thriving community at the heart of Fresno.
Diversity Becomes the Core
In 1884, the City of Fresno was bursting its original limits and land annexations began in order to accommodate the growing population. By 1910 eleven different tracts of land were annexed and subdivided into lots, which now make up the Historical Lowell Neighborhood. The important, and very different, phenomena that happened in our neighborhood was the mixing of very diverse people into a cohesive community. Other neighborhoods, at the time, were made up of people from similar backgrounds and classes, but Lowell attracted everyone from working class day laborers to the affluent business and building owners of Downtown. Today, this same streak of diverse cohesion can be seen on the streets of Lowell where the neighborly “hello” and smile on your face means more to us than what you do and where you’re from.
Lowell Elementary School
By 1891, the growth of the neighborhood required the need of a school and land was purchased to fill this void. In 1909 Lowell Elementary School opened its doors to the community. The original structure stood at 167 Park Avenue, but was demolished in 1966 because the structure was deemed too old to withstand an earthquake. Rebuilt on the same land, and with another addition in 1988, Lowell Elementary School is one of the oldest school sites that is still in use in Fresno.
The Streetcar on Fulton St.
1907 brought the first streetcar to Lowell and gave residents a quick connection to Downtown. This addition brought another surge of residents into the neighborhood because now they had a direct connection to their jobs via the Fresno City Railway. In fact, the line down Fulton Street (then Forthcamp Street) was so popular that within the first year it was opened plans began for a second line in order to accommodate residents. By 1909 Fulton Street was widened for the second rail and today the tree-lined street is still wider than most with its homes set further back to avoid the hustle and bustle that once was.
As time continued Lowell became established as a popular suburb of Downtown Fresno. By the 1920’s, most likely in response to the Depression, many houses were converted into multi-family homes along with the construction of many apartment buildings. These historical markers are still scattered around the neighborhood and show how Lowell has transformed with the needs of its residents.
James Russell Lowell – a Neighborhood of Endurance
Named for American author and diplomat, James Russell Lowell, the community of the Historical Lowell Neighborhood has transformed with the City of Fresno and has continued to serve its diverse community in any way it can. James Russell Lowell wrote in his poem “Columbus”, “Endurance is the crowning quality, and patience all the passion of great hearts.” The Historical Lowell Neighborhood is the product of one hundred and thirty years of endurance and patience and the community that it has created is a group of great hearts.