Manchester, New Hampshire The Hub of the Granite State

Manchester, New Hampshire

The largest city in the state of New Hampshire, Manchester is the largest city in northern New England. It ranks high is affordability, lifestyle and economic opportunity. The Granite State community is also the birthplace of Gilmore Girls’ and The Good Wife’ actor Matt Czuchry, and comedians Adam Sandler and Sarah Silverman grew up in Manchester and went to school there.

Large Population Center

 It was first named by the merchant and inventor Samuel Blodget (after whom the Samuel Blodget Park in Manchester North is named). Blodget's vision was to create a great industrial center similar to that of Manchester in England, which was the world's first industrialized city. It is located in Hillsborough County along the banks of the Merrimack River, which divides the city into eastern and western sections. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 109,565, and its 2014 population estimate was 110,448.The Manchester-Nashua metropolitan area, with an estimated population in 2013 of 403,985, is home to nearly one-third of the population of New Hampshire.

Manchester often appears favorably in lists ranking the affordability and livability of American cities. In 2009, rated Manchester 13th in a list of the 100 best cities to live and launch a business in the United States, In addition, Kiplinger voted Manchester the second most tax-friendly city in the United States, second only to Anchorage, Alaska. 

The town is around a 25-minute drive from Manchester airport, an hour drive from Boston and about four hours from New York City.

Early History

The Pennacook Indians called it Namoskeag, meaning a "good fishing place,"and this was a reference to the Amoskeag Falls in the Merrimack River. Its early boundaries were uncertain. Around 1722, John Goffe III settled and later built a dam and a sawmill beside Cohas Brook, in an area which was dubbed Old Harry's Town. This area was later granted by Massachusetts in 1727 as Tyngstown and reserved as homesteads for veterans of Queen Anne's War who served in 1703 under Captain William Tyng. 

However, when New Hampshire separated in 1741 from Massachusetts, the grant was ruled invalid and substituted with Wilton, Maine. Governor Benning Wentworth rechartered the town in 1751 as Derryfield. And today, Derryfield remains a neighborhood in contemporary Manchester, sharing its easternmost area adjacent to Massabesic Lake.

Spinning Wheels

Industry made its mark here in the early 1800s. In 1807, Samuel Blodget opened a canal and lock system to allow vessels to pass around the falls. He envisioned the area as a great industrial center, "the Manchester of America," which would mirror the Industrial Revolution's Manchester in England.  

A cotton mill operating by water power was built in 1809 by Benjamin Prichard and other settlers. Following Blodgett's suggestion, Derryfield was renamed Manchester in 1810, the year the mill was incorporated as the Amoskeag Cotton & Woolen Manufacturing Company, Purchased in 1825 by entrepreneurs from Massachusetts, the company expanded to 7 mills in 1826, and then was incorporated in 1831 as the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company.

Incorporated as a city in 1846, Manchester was home to the largest cotton mill in the world—Mill No. 11, which housed 4,000 looms. Other products made in the community included shoes, cigars, and paper. Like other cities in the U.S. namely, Cincinnati, Manchester is nicknamed the Queen City, and it has another unusual moniker as well—a humorous reference to Las Vegas. 

The nickname "ManchVegas" was derived from illegal gambling in local businesses during the late 1980s or early 1990s. Many pizza shops and local bars had video poker machines that would pay out real money. The nickname was coined following a city-wide bust of these machines. It was then adopted as a lampoon of the city's limited entertainment opportunities. The term has since become a source of pride as the city's entertainment scene has grown. 

The emphasis on industry continues today. More than 200 diversified manufacturing firms call Manchester home, including businesses in the high-tech, communications, financial services, healthcare and manufacturing. The Mall of New Hampshire is one of the largest shopping malls in the state encompassing 1.2 million square feet.   

Housing stock within the Manchester housing market boasts a wide range of residential real estate choices well-suited for any lifestyle and budget. A diverse inventory of condominiums, upscale and affordable apartments, classic Victorians, trendy refurbished lofts, and great single-family homes are all available here. Manchester offers all urban amenities amidst the natural beauty of the Granite State. 

Things to Do

In 1998, Manchester was named the "Number One Small City in the East" by Money magazine. The Mall of New Hampshire, on Manchester's southern fringe near the intersection of Interstates 93 and 293, serves as the city's main retail center. In 2001, the Verizon Wireless Arena, a venue seating more than 10,000, opened for major concerts and sporting events, enhancing the city's downtown revitalization efforts.Cultural landmarks include the historic Palace Theatre, the Currier Museum of Art, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, the Franco-American Center, the Manchester Historic Association Millyard Museum, the Massabesic Audubon Center, the Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center, the Lawrence L. Lee Scouting Museum and Max I. Silber Library, and the SEE Science Center. 

 Again as a haven for winter sports, the city is home to the McIntyre Ski Area, which opened in the 1970s. With a dearth of professional sports teams, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats is a minor league baseball AA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, winning the city two championships.

Foodies won’t be disappointed in Manchester’s culinary scene.  Locals flock to some of Manchester’s hundreds of restaurants, cafés and diners providing a wide range of fine and casual dining options. Manchester also boasts an impressive array of restaurants offering ethnic cuisines, such as Bosnian, Caribbean, Chinese, French -Canadian, Greek, Hungarian,  Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Nepali, Thai, Vietnamese, and more. And plenty of local markets offer amateur chefs a chance to make their own piece de resistance. 

From food to culture to shopping till you drop, there’s plenty of reason to visit or make Manchester, New Hampshire your new home.

Debra A. Estock is executive editor of New England Condominium.