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Season 2Finalist

North Adams, MA

  • #1
    • The largest contemporary art museum in the United States: Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • 1878
    • The year the town was incorporated, named in honor of Samuel Adams, a leader in the American Revolution and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • 19
    • Number of nationally registered historic places within the town limits.

“The city of North Adams is the convergence of things, routes, people, and different industries, that results in a diverse community of people.”
– Ben Lamb, City Council President

When many manufacturing jobs disappeared from the town, like they did across much of America, North Adams refused to go down without a fight. In fact, they’ve successfully transformed their blue-collar heritage into a booming arts community. Today, North Adams’s economy is fueled by a “creative economy” and its “city of makers.”

“The industrial pieces are still here but I think it has only been bolstered by the fact that we have started to evolve into this arts community. We are a city of makers.”
– Ben Lamb

As an industrial city, North Adams peaked at around 23,000 people with a large majority working for an electronic components manufacturer. When the national economy shifted and the plant shut their doors, the entire area suffered. Even today, with one of the highest poverty levels in Massachusetts, North Adams refuses to surrender. Case in point: they turned the vacant manufacturing facility in the center of town into the largest contemporary art museum in the country: MASS MoCA.

Now, the town’s visionaries are looking for innovative ways to link the tourist traffic at the museum to the downtown area, just a block away, so that the whole community can benefit from the increase in visitors. The evolution has begun, and North Adams is on the cusp of something incredible – they just need a gentle nudge over the edge to truly thrive.

“These small business owners are fighting for us every day, tooth and nail. That evolution began and now we have grabbed it by the coattails.”
– Ben Lamb

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