Friday, June 11, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 51: Lynn, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 51: Lynn, Mass.
May 20, 2010

            Named for the seaport of King’s Lynn in England, the town of Lynn is every bit North Shore.  Located only twelve short miles from Boston this one-time industrial center is now known more for its shore and conservation areas.  Initially Lynn’s land encompassed the future towns of Reading, Lynnfield, Saugus, Swampscott, and Nahant before Lynn itself was incorporated in 1850. 
When I mentioned that Lynn was an industrial center that is an understatement.  Lynn Shoe manufacturers, led by Charles Coffin and Silas Barton, actually invested in the early electric industry.  They invested in the Thomson-Houston Electric Company in 1883.  This company ended up merging with the Edison Electric Company in Schenectady, New York.  This merger became General Electric in 1892; the first two G.E. plants were in Lynn and Schenectady.  Yes, it is a fact, General Electric has its roots in Lynn.
A beautiful spot to begin in Lynn is known simply as Lynn Common(above, left).  It is a sweetly shaded slice of green among the whirring streets and buildings.  It sort of reminded me of Central Park in New York City on a much smaller scale.  Central Park is an escape from Manhattan’s busy streets.  Standing in the center of Lynn Common you can still see and hear all of the city noise but yet you feel a bit disconnected.  There are benches in the shade as well as a sidewalk that runs around the length of the common; there were plenty of people jogging on this day.
Another thing that Lynn is known for, or should be known for, is the incredible views of the surrounding areas from two spots.  The first spot is called High Rock Tower(left) and is located on Circuit Avenue.  The tower itself is eighty-five feet tall with the elevation of the hill pushing the top of the tower to an amazing 200 feet above sea level.  From here it is easy to see neighboring Nahant, Egg Rock, and Boston, along with the downtown area of Lynn almost directly below.(below)   
The park where High Rock Tower is located is a beautiful wide-open stretch of green with a few large boulders like much of the North Shore is known for.  There is also a small playground where children can play. 
In addition to having connections to General Electric’s roots Lynn is also home to the second largest municipal park in the country: The Lynn Woods Reservation.  Founded in 1881 and weighing in at an incredible 2,200 acres Lynn Woods is equipped with more than thirty miles of trails for hiking, bike riding in the summer, and horseback riding.  There are a few active reservoirs that act as ponds for some great scenic views but there was a spot similar to High Rock Tower that I hoped to see.
Simply called the Stone Tower(left), and located at the top of the surprisingly-steep Burrill Hill, this spot is another place to get a greater view of what lies around you.  Going into Lynn Woods I was not sure of the exact location of the Stone Tower, luckily it is less than a mile walk through the trails.  Unfortunately it was not open on this day so my views of the surrounding land had to come courtesy of the outside landing about twenty-feet off the ground.  The surrounding green hills were a breathtaking sight, while the skyline of Boston was a bit obscured by some foliage.  I am sure the view is much better when seen from the top of the forty-eight foot tower.
The final spot I visited in Lynn was a spot typical of the North Shore.  The coastal area, known as Lynn Shore(right), is an amazing recreation area running more than two miles and extended south out to Nahant.  I arrived as the tide was rolling in toward the ten foot high retaining wall running along the street; it made for some inspiring sights of the waves crashing on the rocks.  There are a few areas specifically for looking over Nahant Bay, Egg Rock, and Nahant itself.  Nahant will be covered in my next article. 
I was able to find one stairway leading down to the sand where I was able to be eye level with the crashing waves.  It was a neat sight as the waves were small in the distance and gradually grew as they approached.  I was at a safe distance but the sea birds looking for food got splashed constantly.  There were many people walking and running along the wall taking in the beautiful day and scenery.  It was a perfect end to my visit to Lynn as it finished with the more typical idea I have when I think of the North Shore.
Lynn represents much of what the North Shore is all about, but then has a completely different side more closely matching a big city.  General Electric can trace its roots back to this small city which in and of itself is cause for an article.  Beyond that are the two stone towers with amazing views: High Rock Tower and the Stone Tower at the Lynn Woods Reservation.
After seeing those sights you can end the day at the perfect location along the ocean.  Watching the waves crash on the rocks at Lynn Shore was soothing and allowed me to rewind my mind back through my trip and enjoy it all over again.  I highly recommend paying the city of Lynn a visit, there is no limit to what you can see here.  Have fun and happy traveling!

My first book, In My Footsteps: A Cape Cod Travel Guide, is now available at,, and, soon to be in stores everywhere!  Follow me on Twitter!

Directions: Lynn Woods Reservation:  From Rt. 3 heading north take Exit 20B to merge onto I-93, take Exit 37A to merge onto I-95 north.  Take Exit 44B for Rt. 129 east, at rotary take 2nd exit to stay on Rt. 129, turn right at Great Woods Rd.  Follow it to the end, this parking area is closest to Stone Tower.
High Rock Tower:  From Rt. 3 heading north take Exit 20B to merge onto I-93, take Exit 20 toward Logan Airport, merge onto I-90 east.  Continue to Rt. 1-A north, slight left at Rt. 60 west.  At rotary take 2nd exit for Rt. 107 north.  Turn right at Chestnut St.  Tower is on right.
Lynn Shore:  From Rt. 3 heading north take Exit 20B to merge onto I-93, take Exit 20 toward Logan Airport, merge onto I-90 east.  Continue to Rt. 1-A north, at rotary take 2nd exit for Rt. 1-A north.  Continue onto Lynnway, at rotary take 1st exit onto Nahant Rd., make a U-Turn at Wilson Rd. 
            Friends of Lynn Woods
            Lynn Shores - DCR

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