Lawrence, Mass.: City of the Damned

Crime is soaring, schools are failing, government has lost control, and Lawrence, the most godforsaken place in Massachusetts, has never been in worse shape. And here’s the really bad news: it’s up to controversial Mayor William Lantigua to turn it all around.

By Jay Atkinson | Boston Magazine |

 

Neither the police nor an ambulance was summoned, Harvey says, speculating that the incident went unreported “in order for the school to have a lower suspension and police intervention rate.”

Harvey says the teacher later found out there was no incident report, or any punishment. “It’s a feeling of hopelessness regarding the future,” the lawyer says. “These teachers hope the receiver” — Jeffrey Riley, formerly the chief innovation officer for the Boston public schools, who was appointed in mid-January — “talks to them, because they haven’t been heard from in years, and they’re on the front lines.”

Francis McLaughlin, 56, president of the Lawrence Teachers’ Union, has taught computer science and history at Lawrence High for the past 32 years. “We have failed the kids. It’s not a safe city,” he says. “Kids can’t learn if they don’t feel safe. Teachers can’t teach if they don’t feel safe.”

McLaughlin says the district doesn’t make the students its priority. “For a long time, they’ve been running the school system for the benefit of certain individuals,” he says. “The problem has been politics, and a corrupt administration. It’s not just been the last few years — it’s been the last 10 years. I hope justice will be served.”

As he speaks, McLaughlin has to crane his neck around the stacks of reports and articles about the impending criminal trial of former superintendent Wilfredo Laboy that are on his desk. In March 2010, Laboy was indicted on eight counts of fraud and embezzlement and one count of illegal possession of alcohol on school property. At the same time, his right-hand man, Mark Rivera, was charged with seven counts of larceny over $250 after he was caught using the school department’s graphic designers and printers to create fliers and other literature for a political campaign.

After several requests, I am allowed to visit the public schools. The five-year-old campus of Lawrence High is a vast, forbidding structure in South Lawrence. The school and its grounds are staffed by 10 uniformed security officers. A police captain, a detective, and two patrolmen are headquartered there as well, but are also responsible for the other 27 schools in the district.

Lawrence is in the top third of Massachusetts towns when it comes to spending per pupil — more than even tony suburbs like Westwood, Sharon, and Cohasset — but success has been elusive. On my tour, I see some students and teachers working hard, but passing one classroom, I notice a kid in the front row reading a newspaper while his classmates are busy trying to solve math problems. And later I am startled to witness a skinny kid in a black sweatshirt confronting a hulking security officer in front of several other adults. “You’re talkin’ shit right now,” the kid says to the officer. “What are you gonna do if I let your blood flow?”

At lunchtime, I join three 16-year-old Dominican girls as they text friends and discuss the rumors that, once the state takes over, the school day will be extended to 4 p.m. It may sound like a good idea, but one of the girls is skeptical. “More kids will drop out,” she says.

  • Sheila

    A great article to bring forth what is happening in this city. A pit of corruption and non-caring attitude of many of the residents as well as City Leaders. Leaders who rely on an outdated City Charter that perpetuates nepotism and political favortism in City Hall.

  • Juan

    Mayor William Lantigua has created such a negative vibe around the entire city that you can feel it miles away.

    Lantigua truly believes in “This is Our Time” that is so sad that he criticized the

  • anthony

    I have been searching for a new apartment and found some great new Loft apartments on the river, they were gorgeous… I just couldn’t get passed the crime rates, horrible school system and corrupt c

  • Tamar

    This is horrible. You know what? I have a college degree, and a graduate degree, and I love Lawrence and am raising my family here. The author made no attempt to interview anyone doing good work here,

  • Robert

    Jeez talk about drive-by writing and as one-sided a story as one could possibly write about Lawrence. There are so many great stories you could have picked to ‘balance’ this even a little but. The hard work people are doing to repurpose the mill spaces in the city, the neighborhood groups meeting monthly, trying to work on how to make the city work; the great kids (I’ve met a lot of them) working hard at their education even against the often long odds they wrestle with; organizations like Lawrence Community Works, Essex Art Institute, Lawrence History Center, Notre Dame Academy, Heritage Park, Heritage Festival Committee (I can add on here) doing a great job preserving the city’s history and working on its future in great ways. Boston Magazine now ask someone with a sense of optimism about the city to write a piece you will give equal prominence to. My name is Bob Forrant, and I have been working in Lawrence for over a year on a commemoration of the Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912, and I sure see another side to the city than this piece offers your readers.

  • Aliali

    I just read “…the City of the Damned” and am so incredibly disappointed at the use of yet another media source to discredit this city and only focus on the negative aspects within it. Like eve

  • Anthony

    @Robert…. the piece was more than fair and in all reality could have painted Lawrence 100 X worse and would have still been factually correct. The absolute horror stories outweigh the good ones ten fold and those are the facts. The city is an absolute and utter disgrace and represents everything wrong with our country…. Your bury your head in the sand attitude about Lawrence’s problems contribute and allow the the problems to continue, not make them better.

  • James

    Look, everyone knows Lawrence has been struggling for a long time. That’s about the worst kept secret in Massachusetts. But really, what was the point in putting together this negative hit-piece? Those who need to read it and change their behavior – the dealers, the corrupt city officials – won’t, and all you’ve done is reconfirm the fears that area suburbanites hold for the place. It’s these same fears that keeps the city in a chronic state of disinvestment.

  • Rob

    I have lived here my entire life. It’s about time something is done to draw attention to it one way or another. Unluckily for Lawrence the negatives out way the positives by an insurmountable margin. This is what it takes to get people to notice, not sugar coating the issues like some people would suggest. Pretending our students speak english won’t make it true. Just like pretending this is not a terrible place will not make it so.

  • Anthony

    All government is currupt DO NOT label MY city as a dammnation i mean look at america in general.. for jesus christ ..i feel we are humans ment to grow expand and learn but instead we are brainwashed to worship paper and shiny rocks. AMERICA is the the COUNTRY of the dammed. Liars to its people and the rest of the world while corporate&political thugs have no need for money.

  • alma

    A new low for Boston Magazine.

  • Carl

    Drug epidemic in GodforsakenLawrence! (1975) Riot in Godforsaken Lawrence! (1984) Arson spree in Godforsaken Lawrence (1991!) The specifics change year to year, but Lawrence’s place in the popular white imagination remains the same: a South Bronx of Massachusetts, where corruption, crime and squalor create a hellhole of unimaginable proportions. Good reporting needs to look past the soft, easy target that Lawrence has always presented on its surface, to see deeper trends. 1. Its shopping streets have blossomed with Hispanic owned businesses after being shuttered for 30 years, 2. Crime, although rising due to police budget cuts, is much lower than many northestern cities and neighborhoods with a similar demographic (recent Hispanic immigrants with little higher education at home). 3. It has become integrated with neighboring Methuen as Hispanics work their way up and out to better homes and neighborhoods, pursuing the American dream. Lantingua, although a huge embarrassment, harkens back to the first mayors of other immigrant groups who tried to use the spoils of office to enrich their cronies. Whether someone is a hero or scoundrel depends on who is writing the history book. Ask Michael Curley.

  • a girl from lawrence

    wow this has left me in shock. i was raised in lawrence and yes there may be some corruption but please can you name a town in which there isnt. I THINK lawrence is always pointed the finger at because we are a minority. why dont you write about all the people in andover ? Why dont you go take a walk in one of their highschools and see if they arent selling hard drugs and have major problems with child bulling but no when something happens in my hometown people always make it there job to make news . Why dont you talk about the good, all the wonderful programs we have ?

  • M

    This is a well-written thoughtful article. I grew up in the projects in Lawrence 30 years ago and the city was as corrupt then as it is today. The amount of money funneled through that city is astounding. Where does it go? It’s about time somebody started asking these questions. Children have been starving and neglected for decades in this city. Drugs are everywhere. 30 years ago there were drugs in the Junior High School. I’m sure they’ve got to be in the elementary schools now. Follow the money – the answers will come…

  • Alex

    Fr. O’Brien isn’t helping the city – he played a big role in closing down St. Mary’s Grammar School, one of the last Catholic grammar schools in the city and one that educated more Latino students than St. Patrick’s at a lower price. He’s just as political as that fool Lantigua, it’s just matters of the Church and not the city.

    As for the rest of the article, yeah, Lawrence is in a terrible spot right now and this is a fairly accurate piece. But there’s a lot of hope in the city. I lived my whole life there and I’m about to graduate from college on a full-scholarship.

    What about all the students in Adelante, or Boys’ and Girls’ club? Lawrence high sent a couple of students to Harvard four years ago. It’s a suffering city, not a lost cause. This negative attitude only creates self-fulfilling prophecies, not solutions.

  • Pavel

    I would like to invite the editorial staff of the Boston Magazine to come to Lawrence and meet with leaders in the community who will give you a more realistic view of what is happening in the city. T

  • Kenia

    Saddened and disappointed by this article. It’s true that all these things are going on, but the author of this article failed to mention kids like me who are at colleges like MIT, Brown, and Tufts. The author failed to mention all the work done by after school programs like the Raytheon Mentor Program or Gear Up. This article failed to mention the Dominicans mothers like mine who work their butts off so that their kids can have clothes on their backs and food on the table. Perhaps if you mentioned the guidance counselors who go out of their way to help kids fill out college applications, Lawrence would be a better place. Shout out to Mr. Matt Baione for being this person for me. Perhaps if you’d stop writing articles like this and helped someone learn English or get them a job, you could be part of the solution. I am prod to be from the City of Lawrence.

  • christian

    art power love

  • christian

    Hey JAY ATKINSON why do you seem to just point fingers at lawrence why ? not enough whites for you or is it that you trying to make more money? How about you guys stop hiding the positive stories in l

  • Janel

    Your article is so biased from top to bottom. The title is simply inflammatory. Yes, there are many things about Lawrence that need improvement. However, there was no interviewing or highlighting of all the good that is being done in Lawrence. Negativity breeds more negativity and this author simply tool the easy way out. I hope this magazine’s editor steps up and demands a more balanced look at the city in a future publication.

  • Joe
  • debbie

    Shame on Boston Magazine and Jay Atkinson for such a shoddy piece of journalism. I was not born in Lawrence but have raised four very productive children here over the last 34 years. My husband and I are educated and both have full time government posititions. We are not all poverty stricken and ignorant as your magazine portrays us to be.
    It appears as though your writer is the one who is uneducated about the subject he has chosen to write about as well as being small minded and one sided.
    It’s sad that your “godforsaken” magazine had stooped so low.

  • Patrick

    I don’t get why people are so quick to defend this place. The government is crap, the people are the most disrespectful of anywhere I’ve ever lived, there’s trash all over the place, people get shot every weekend, the schools suck, downtown sucks (besides tripolis). It’s not a good place to live and it’s just plain disgusting to me that people choose to raise childrens in such an inept city.

  • robert

    This is a great article. Very negative but that’s what most of the city is. The article is pointing out what is wrong and what needs to be changed. The people posting comments saying that they are a hardworking family in Lawrence, congrats you’re the minority. This city has had people murdered in broad daylight on Essex street. The mayor is a corrupt piece of trash who insults everyone by not stepping down. He makes money hand over fist, with his wife being head of the liquor licensing board. I am astonished that anyone can defend this city. Great piece, I’m glad you shook things up. People defending, go walk down Broadway after dark.

  • tony

    i have lived here 30 years.. it is that bad… put all the latino pride crap aside and open your damn eyes.. i cant even open my windows in the summer because of rude jerks bachatta music is so loud it rattles the who damn block.. 9 yr olds tell you blank off n—-.. deal with it.. its hell on earththe cops cant do anything.. hey gov erkil we need help!

  • Robert

    I am stunned at some of these comments. The article and author are more than fair. Have any of you ever driven, or walked through that city lately??? Do yourself a favor and Google Lawrence, Ma and read some of the stuff going on. The facts are that the city is an utter embarrasment and has been for decades now. The only way it is ever coming back is to confront these problems head on like the Mr. Atkinson is attempting. Ignoring the real problems and whispering about the real problems in coffee shops around the city, will not make them go away.

  • Ed

    This is a dangerously sloppy and cynical piece that is intentionally one sided because thoughtful balance is too hard for so many writers (and editors) these days. There are a lot of good people doing good things in Lawrence, and a case can be made that there is grassroots comeback in the making. But that’s a less sexy undertaking for Boston Magazine’s narrow readership. It’s much easier to reinforce convenient stereotypes, which is what this article has done to detriment of the tens of thousands of people in Lawrence who are trying to make a difference everyday. Virtually all of the elements of this hatchet job can be found in any urban city in Massachusetts. But hey, why bother actually talking to the people working hard on the various renewal efforts that are underway when you can write in the first person about a heroin bust. So exciting! And so easy! Congratulations to Boston Magazine for making its sheltered, suburban readers feel secure in their ignorance of the true story of Lawrence.

  • Kellmy

    I know more (by college degree not just job titles) engineers, architects, reporters, lawyers, of Latino origin that were raised in Lawrence for part or all their lives than I do from other neighboring cities. Don’t blame failure on environmental effects, everyone controls their own lives. And on another note, this is cynical biased reporting. Sure there are things that need much improvement but this is a one sided story; not all folks are damned in their lives as the “city” is deemed to be. There are still plenty of kids continuing on to reputable higher educational institutions and enjoying a much better life than folks of similar age groups from neighboring towns. Are those kids damned?

  • Kellmy

    This article should only fuel our engines to work harder in order to make Lawrence a better place! In the end it only targets how Latinos have ruined the city. However, the journalist does not even try to throw a ray of sunlight onto those who work hard in order to make Lawrence a better community!!!

  • Walki

    This is a perfect example of how to attract attention to a FAILING magazine. Let’s write about the crime rate when the first wave of Irish and Italiam immigrants came to Lawrence. This article is dis

  • MaggieO

    This is way below Boston Mag’s standards; it reads like the conceit of a slap-dash stereotyping columnist at the Boston Herald. Yes, the city has problems, but why did the reporter ignore the hard work of community rebuilding, good leadership development, and small business expansion that’s going on in Lawrence? Because it did not fit into his prepared narrative? Boston Magazine swept some really great people into the title as it dismissed the whole city….for what? To try his hand at being Elmore Leonard? What a disappointing piece! This is way below Boston Mag’s standards; it reads like the conceit of a slap-dash stereotyping columnist at the Boston Herald. Yes, the city has problems, but how did you miss the hard work of community rebuilding, good leadership development, and small business expansion that’s going on in Lawrence? You swept some really great people into the title as you dismissed the whole city….for what? To sell magazines? I will pass this one up on the newsstand for now on.

  • Josh

    Congratulations to you Mr. Atkinson for your shock-value, fear-mongering, cynical, lopsided piece of “journalism”. People like you are the ones that continually give Lawrence the reputation that it has today. Yes, some of what you wrote unfortunately does occur in the city, but as mentioned by many before me, did you even try to interview or contact people who are trying to make positive change happen in this city? Writing a biased, one-sided piece that promotes your agenda is not journalism. The good people who live and work here and try to make positive change happen see right through you. But hey, you’re doing a great job of scaring white suburbanites into never setting one foot into Lawrence, so I imagine this is a success for you.

  • Lou

    Your article on Lawrence was one of the most poorly researched, erroneous, and irresponsible pieces of journalism I have ever read. Yet another example of the corporate media attacking the poor and less fortunate. I have worked with teachers, students, youth workers, and families in this culturally rich and economically oppressed city for 25 years; you would have to be from another planet –or shilling for the 1% — to have written such a shoddy article. Shame on the writer and on Boston Magazine for publishing it.

  • Bill

    I am sure you are getting lots of feedback on the article you published about Lawrence. I grew up in Lawrence and 12 years or so went back to the city – after working around the country, to help make this city a better place – along with hundreds of others. I have seen a lot of this country and many struggling places. I live in the City today. The City you wrote about is not the city that I know or that thousands of other people know. This kind of journalism is the worst of cynical, lazy narrative-bias dripping adventurism that is out there. Fun headline — predictable story-line – edgy young reporter hanging out with the bad-ass cops, the saintly priest. Please. Really? Do you guys actually high-five over stuff like this?

  • Shirley

    I started to read this article last night and could not finish. I was overwhelmed by tears that,yet another media source, can’t help but use the struggles our city is facing just to get some readers. Yes, Lawrence is struggling, A LOT, but how dare you damn the people who live here! There are many factors far out of our control, which only the Leader of this city and school system could fix. I am a product of Lawrence, born and raised hereand I hold 3 degrees. I am fluently bilingual. I am a proud Hispanic young woman from Lawrence. I give back to this city because I know what it was and what it could be. I am not ignorant to the fact that we need help so I try to help. I am a teacher and I work my tail off to help the students. Do we have all the support we need, NO, but I do what I haave to do to make sure the students know they stand a chance. But if this is what they read, then self-fulling prophecies will be made. Give encouragement not hopelessness!

  • Bill

    I grew up in Lawrence and 12 years or so went back to the city – after working around the country, to help make this city a better place – along with hundreds of others. This kind of journalism is the worst of cynical, lazy narrative-bias dripping adventurism that is out there. Fun headline — predictable story-line – edgy young reporter hanging out with the bad-ass cops, the saintly priest. Please. Really? Do you guys actually high-five over stuff like this?

  • John

    While your article focuses on all negative factors, it fails to even mention any of the good things that have happened in the city. In the 10 years I have been a businessman in Lawrence, I have seen numerous vacant buildings be redeveloped for both commercial and residential purposes. While Lawrence has suffered greater than many communities in the last economic downturn, it has still attracted many investments. I am constantly amazed at how much business and property owners support each other to make Lawrence a city with great opportunities.

  • shu

    A friend of mine recently moved into one of the fancy new lofts only to be robbed while she was in the shower. I think this article only touches on what the problems Lawrence has. Sure it has many good things going for it, too. Sadly those do not outweigh or outshine the bad which is what this article is trying to show.

  • Kristen

    Hey Boston Magazine,
    The state’s poorest city must be the most crime ridden, right? Wrong, many Massachusetts cities have worse crime rates. Of course, like most long time Lawrence residents, I would like for us to do better, because according to the FBI we are running neck in neck with that other damned city by a river, Boston.

  • Rosa Pina

    You should be ashamed of yourself. It seems that this is the only way for you to get people’s attention. You probably needed the publicity so bad, that you hurry to write such an awful story. Boston Magazine, shame on you for publishing it and allowing one of your writers to fall so low!

  • Maggie

    Here are a few facts your readers might not know after reading this article: Lawrence students have taken home some of the highest MCAS scores in the state in English and Math. Cafe Verde in downtown Lawrence won “Best of the North Shore” this year. Lawrence CommunityWorks and the City of Lawrence won a national award for community-police partnerships. A new riverfront park in Lawrence recently won a national award for social impact. I could go on… but why bother? Boston magazine does not seem the slightest bit interested in a story about Lawrence that doesn’t involve guns, gangs, or political corruption.

  • Sue

    This article is one of the most lopsided portrayals of Lawrence that I have ever seen. I have lived here since 1978 and have seen many horrendous things (arson, riots, etc) but also many wonderful things in the past 34 years. I am not so naive to think that there are not many bad things happening in Lawrence. I see them but I also see parks being renovated or new ones being built on former brownfield sites. I see mills that were once the backbone of Lawrence’s economy being converted to housing- both market rate and affordable. I see the former Saunders School being converted into permanent housing for homeless families. I see dedicated people including myself who go to work every day and strive to make Lawrence a better place for all. This article is a slap in the face to all of us. I am personally sick and tired of all the negative press that Lawrence gets. Lawrence is so much more than that.

  • Bored

    Such horrible things are happening all over the world; we are all damned. Lawrence is no exception from U.S’s failing economy and its local urban disinvestment. SO WHAT ARE YOU going to do about it??

  • Karina

    This article is completely unbalanced. I love the writer mentions a white thin blonde in an expensive SUV that clearly didn’t fit in, and was most likely from out of town coming in to buy drugs in Lawrence with her kid in the car, but makes no attempt to show how the demand for drugs is coming from sorrounding middle class white communities. Basic law of supply and demand, if the middle class white people that read this article and feel superior to the hispanics of this city would stop driving in here in their expensive SUV’s to buy drugs, there may not be as much drug activity in the city.

  • Jessica

    I can barely recognize my city in this article – but then I could recognize nearly any city in America here. What appalls me most is the laziness, rank prejudice, and cowardice it represents. There are no great and brave truths revealed here, no dirty little secrets finally being shouted from the rooftops. Everyone who lives in Lawrence, and all of us who love it, know that it is a tough city. We know what our families struggle with. But to deny the basic humanity of Lawrence residents – to be summarily dismissed as “the damned” – to negate, bury, and dismiss the joys, opportunities, and achievements this community has fostered for so many, to render invisible all the incredibly hard work that so many of us engage in, successfully, every day, to make this a good place for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, to fail to see how beautiful this place and its people are – is an error of vision so colossal, and an editorial decision so wretched, it beggars belief.

  • Cara

    I am a lifelong resident of Lawrence. This article is tough to read. It is also true. I understand why people get upset reading an article with so many negative realities. But they are realities. I am intelligent enough to know the author is not trying to describe both the positives and negatives of Lawrence. He’s trying to focus on our huge, huge problems. Of course there are many good things about Lawrence. But we are collapsing from our social problems. When you line up our negative issues – corruption, crime, drugs, educational failure, teen pregnancy, illiteracy, violence – we ARE a much bigger disaster than any other community in MA. I was at first sort of shocked by the title of this article. Now I’m thinking it is a good title. We are choosing to damn ourselves to further collapse if we’re not honest about our problems. And if we don’t get rid of the leaders who profit from those problems.

  • Amy

    With all of its intentionally provocative show-and-awe imagery, and its one-dimensional negative bias, this reads more like creative nonfiction. Jay Atkinson writes like a frustrated novelist with sluggish book sales. I’m not saying that Lawrence doesn’t have significant problems, as many communities do across the country. But do Mr. Atkinson and Boston Magazine think that throwing stereotypes around (see: “crackheads” and “Latino Falstaff”) and recklessly submitting unreferenced, unexamined statistics are going to help anything? Articles like this one, that just scratch the surface without examining the true complexity of the situation, without presenting opposing views, without proposing solutions, are just as dangerous as the guns Atkinson allegedly saw being waved around by teenagers in the streets.

  • Maria

    WOW is all I have to say about this article, if you can call it that. I can’t believe that Pastor is allowing this magazine to put him next to a title like that. The fact that he’s allowing his name to be associated with an article that uses words like “Damned and Godforsaken” to describe a city where the emphasis is the Latinos that live there and all the negativity surrounding, it should make all the Latino members of that parish rethink their place of worship. Wow this a man of the cloth who is supposed to help everyone and he’s ok with being associated with this article what does that say about him? I wonder how he felt about the “white” abusing priests?

  • Robert

    To those of you that took offense to this article and demand that the journalist point out the good points of Lawrence had better wake up and smell the coffee.
    You point out all the so-called good that is going on and all you can point out is new construction and new projects that have been built in the city. What needs to be changed is the attitude and the culture of this city. The criminal element is everywhere. Try attending some event in this city and then come out to find your car window has been broken in an attempt to steal your car. Or worse come out to find someone waiting to rip you off. This happens all to many times in this rat-hole of a city.
    It rots from the top. And that means the mayor and his administration.Once this is removed then this city can move forward.
    Wake up all of you.

  • Administrator
  • Jim

    This article is circulating throughout Lawrence City Hall, in case anyone believes officials aren’t reading it. And don’t shoot the messenger (aka, the writer). Your anger should be directed at current and past city leaders who instead of bringing vision to their jobs have looked to Lawrence as 1, a steppingstone to future jobs, and, 2, a way to line their own pockets at the expense of a broken city.

  • Ramon

    Thank you for this article. Your facts are correct. The people of Lawrence (I am one of them) need to make big changes if we’re going to change the path we’re on. Thank you for your courage to publish an article that directly confronts the realities of our city. 25 years of our “It’s really not that bad” defensive reactions have got us where we are – deeper in a hole. If we’re going to get out of that hole we need to admit “It IS that bad” and make big changes. I admire all the people covered in the article who are not intimidated to work for a better Lawrence. Regular citizens and public leaders, they are some of the few people who are not intimidated by the negative status quo of our city.

  • Maksim

    This article does point out problems that every urban city has. There are many hardworking individuals in Lawrence turning this around and have been doing so for many years. We are sick and tired of seeing this, all the bad for Lawrence. When the Kennnedys drive around drunk, the Kerrys register their yachts in other states, the Sullivans make $ deals to sell pizza to public schools, the Methuen Police Chiefs daughter gets away with a hit and run, this is all dismissed and everyone is happy. Get real; the people make the change, not the leaders. If Latinos are the majority of Lawrence, get the facts from them; stop citing a bad resource like the Eagle Tribune. Boston Magazine should support local communities and publish useful information to assist residents with making the change.

  • John

    his grand finale!
    I do not agree with Mr. Atkinson summing up his short fictional story by indirectly insulting Latinos. In his “GRAND FINALE”, he implies or prety much straight comes out and says that the city of Lawrence started going down to hell in a hand basket, no pun intended, exactly when the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans (Latinos) moved into the city.

    So, nothing violent ever happened when the mill “workers of Italian, Polish, Lithuanian, Syrian, Irish, English, German, French-Canadian, and Portuguese origin” lived in the city??

    That’s hard to imagine.

    Also, his experience with the gun-wielders is not credible. I’m sure Father O’Brien doesn’t agree with the statements made in this article, as it would simply make him look like a liar.

  • Sandra

    We all know that Lawrence is not the same, has become no man’s land.

  • KE

    It’s perfectly approprate to report on corruption, crime and the tough conditions kids have to grow up in but this article is rife with stereotypes and superficial observations. It’s also intersting that it’s juxtoposed against the cover illustrating a nice young white family on the lawn of their giant house in Weston (or is it Dover?-I can’t tell). Not a single sentence in the entire article about good people working hard, or acknowledging that Lawrence is a community with some assets (whether it be those hard working people, the revitalization of the Mill Buildings, it’s development potential, the new hope that comes with the current school reform efforts-anything?) “What’s wrong with Lawrence?” What’s wrong with you?!

  • danny

    I was born and raised in Lawrence and I am 17. Sure Lawrence does have a lot of problems, I’ve had crack addicts ask money from me at mcdonalds and the government may be corrupt, but there is productivity. I know kids that work their butts, my friend graduated from Lawrence and is at tufts on a full scholarship. I know both the Lawrence wrestling and basketball teams were the best in the state this season with basketball making a run at the championship. I go to St johns prep in danvers and know multiple kids from Lawrence that attend and excell there. I have been accepted to multiple colleges already was offered a lot of money and a full scholarship. I also know kids that attend some of the top schools in the state from Phillips Andover to Groton. A lot of people in Lawrence have been doing work to improve the city so don’t come counting us out. In Lawrence you just gotta tough and strong minded to survive so were not really rude it’s mostly front try actually talking to someone you might a lot. That is all o have to say.

  • igore

    I live here, there is a lot of positive in this city. Why not allow the residents to show you?

  • John

    I probably should not be so naive, but wouldn’t it be great if, for once, a media outlet would show all sides of a story. Yes, Lawrence has lots of issues. But maybe the author could have given a balanced portrayal of both the challenges and the opportunities if he had dropped in on some of the corporations and community-based organizations that are doing unbelievably positive work: to improve living conditions in the city, to feed the poor and unemployed while keeping their dignity, re-develop mill space, build community gardens and playgrounds, and create new jobs. He could have met some of the star students at the high school and the young professionals who have moved back to their roots because they care about creating positive change in their city. I guess that would have changed the script you were intent on writing all along. Boston Magazine – how about less sensationalism and more well-rounded articles? No wonder your publication is suffering!

  • John

    I love to live in Lawrence because, despite its problems, it offers many things that can’t be found in the sea of largely soulless suburban sprawl that characterizes much of America. There is a sense of community here, and a sense of place. You can live and work here without depending on a car. Local businesses far outnumber chains – and you don’t need to be rich to start your own business. You can even buy some world class sneakers or fleece jackets that were made by your neighbors. All this exists in a place of natural beauty where bald eagles soar over the convergence of three rivers. If you are willing to look below the surface and be a part of something special, I invite you to come be a part of making a better future in Lawrence. We need investment. For those that live here and feel disparaged by the challenges, let’s start talking to each other about what we can do together to move forward.

  • Lisa

    I’m not a writer but I’d like for my words to be heard so… Yes it’s true. We have a lot of corruption and horrid things happening here, but is stating this going to change anything? At the most it’s going to make the people that are trying to make this place sane feel bad about the work and accomplishments they’ve done. Then it’s going to make others angry because it’s an insult to our city. This IS who we are and some may not be able to accept that. There is more to us than the crimes, violence, etc. I know this place has an underlying good. There are people like me who look at this article and decide it’s time to take a stand. What’s pointing out our flaws going to do? It’s just like pointing out someone’s shoe is untied. No matter how many times you point it out it will still be untied until the person goes and ties their shoe. Lantigua can’t do this alone. We must work as a community. Nothing’ll change until we start taking steps and coming together to do so. So stop pointing out the obvious, and start making a difference.

  • steward

    I feel very disrespected reading through this article as it portraits the city as the worst place in the planet. The struggle in Lawrence drives many people to be corrupt, but there’s many out here fighting to make this a better place to live let alone the generation of students that’s rising stronger everyday.

  • Tanairi

    Did you ever think your words had the potential to ruin lives? To suck us into a rut? I’m a high school senior in Lawrence High School- HLD, I have worked my butt off trying to create future for myself but, that doesn’t matter to you does it? I know why, because you are just tying to climb the corporate ladder. Trying to get ahead of this rat race. But while you were running this little race of yours you didn’t stop to think how this would affect the students applying to college. The students who have worked, had been through struggles beyond anything you have ever lived, had cried themselves to sleep at night because somehow they are the glue that holds their collapsing family together. Now after this article do you think that all our hard work will be appreciated? Do you think a college will look at our application and not have a biased state of mind? I know students across our campus that have started a news paper where they put out articles that bring out the silver lining Lawrence has, students that have a little business, students that put together events that make the…

  • Tasha

    This is disgusting, because it is obvious you wrote this article for self gratification and for sales. Do you realize how many clowns have taken this “HOPELESS” Lawrence approach before, and have injured our city more than helped? Do you even have common sense? This articles come out all the time. They never have helped our city improved once. This kind of media denies and downplays the efforts of all the hard working people that are actually making a difference. If you honestly gave two cents about helping the “damned”, you should have used your powers for good, and highlighted and supported these people that are working for change. You could have helped their numbers grow. Instead you choose the easy path of slamming the city down and setting the yellow “crime scene” tape around it. It sickens me because I bet you, with your “got nothing to loose” smug smile, must be feeling like you deserve a raise after risking your life writing a piece on this city. You make me sick. First and LAST article I’m reading from Boston Magazine. You owe an apology to my community.

  • Jorma

    There is a lot of character to any city, both good and bad. My parents chose to move to this city, away from suburbia, to expose their children to a broader cultural experience. Thanks to growing up in Lawrence, I am almost trilingual, and I have a better understanding and more curiosity than most Americans about globalism than I ever would have gained in homogenous suburbia. There are so many learning opportunities here for kids that this article overlooks- the free library trips, the art and writing programs, the various celebrations (Bread and Roses, the Hispanic Week, the Civil War Weekend, to name only a handful) that one only need turn a corner to find a cultural experience. This article disregards the vast cultural experience that any small city provides and instead focuses on the current (and let’s not forget temporary)corrupt administration that we are dealing with. I grew up here in the ’80s when buildings were burning down around me, and I still love this place; it has helped shape the college educated, well devoped person that I am today.

  • Jorma

    Commented already, but wanted to address the whole drug abuse segment of the article…
    Yes, the dealers do hang out on Broadway and Essex. I have walked my whole life and headphones divert them quite well. One time my brother was caught in a rainstorm and a dealer approached him, stating “Yo, I got watcha need”. My brother was quick with a respose- “What, an umbrella?!”
    Short story, both cracked up laughing. Short story about Lawrence, it has many sides, and if you take the time to learn them (like this article does not) then you will see that there is sooo much more to this tiny city than drugs and corruption.

  • Street

    For every one who thinks City of the Damned is not true. Sell your homes and move to Lawrence. Find out for yourself that this story is nothing new for the people who live here. We read these same stories every day in the in the ET. There is more bad than good going on in Lawrence. Just another normal day in Lawrence thanks to our great leaders in city hall.

  • anthony

    first, i got a fin that says most of these rebuttals are comming from 200 common st, call it a hunch, second yea its this bad. stop sticking your chests out with pride, hell thats half the reason this city sucks to begin with,everyone has a chip on their shoulder. I hate excuses, and thats all that you defenders can come up with. this article was MEANT to highlight the bad not the good. If you cant grasp the fact that the bad outweighs the good 10-1 please go refill your prozac. we are 2 steps from the national guard being needed. to the person who said bostons crime rates are par with lawrence… guess what, boston is also 10 times bigger…. this place is horrible. until the populace changes their attitude it will stay this way.. city of the cheated??? more like cheating the taxpayers out of more money, AL

  • Matt

    Anyone upset that tree is not a balance of positive stories in this article needs to realize this is a focused story on the corruption of the joke of a mayor and elected officials, that’s all. Everyone would agree there are positive stories that could balance this out, but it is time to recognize all that’s broke and fix it. It is not time to make yourself feel good.

  • joe

    @Have You Been to a Major City?….. If you’re parents moved from the Suburbs INTO Lawrence to expose you to different cultures, you should be removed from their custody as they are clearly not fit to be parents.

    In short, like most of the other pro- Lawrence posts, your post is full of garbage, not true, and probably coming from the offices of Lawrence City Hall or Lantigua’s office directly.

    Nobody moves their children from the suburbs INTO Larence. Sorry… It just don’t happen.

  • Chris

    Great spot on article on the cesspool of Lawrence. By ignoring the problem , things will never change, and I hope Lantigua will be gone soon. Pappy from N Andover says hi Jay

  • Street

    Father Paul O’Brien Lawrence needs your help. The present Mayor and city council do not get it.

    The truth hurts when stories like this are printed. So what has the Boston Magazine and ET stories changed in Lawrence?

    Not much from all the comments. The people of Lawrence are very sick of reading about all the bad things in Lawrence.

    Change has to start with the DO NOTHING CITY COUNCIL. What are you city councilors afraid of? Are these the stories what you want to read about every day. As long as Lantigua is Mayor stories like this will not end.

    THE DO NOTHING CITY CITY COUNCIL must feel proud for what has happened to Lawrence

  • Steven

    I just read the Jay Atkinson article about Lawrence and found it to be shoddy journalism at its best. I’m also disappointed in Fr. O’Brien. It’s extremely hypocritical of him to cast aspersions at Lawrence about corruption while pulling a Marcel Marceau when his own Catholic Church swept years of sexual abuse of children under the rug. Did he rail publicly against Cardinal Law and the church’s corruption in “The Pilot” then? Not to mention the political shenanigans of how his parish at St. Patrick’s was allowed to stay open while(Sacred Heart) only several blocks away was forced to close even though it was in a significantly better financial situation. Everyone knows St. Pat’s had more clout with the Diocese. As for Lawrence, I am a lifelong resident who is proud to live here. While the city has legitimate problems, they are not unlike those of similar older mill towns. Mayor Lantigua inherited a fiscal nightmare which was ignored the previous 12 years by his predecessors. He had the intestinal fortitude to shut off the runaway spigot and actually say no to continued irresponsible spending. He and the city council had to make unpopular but necessary cuts that should have…

  • Rosiee

    I am a youth growing up in Lawrence and I can say that I do not have an ounce of as much ignorance as this author does. Sure, Lawrence has a sky-rocketing crime rate, and sure, the education system may not be the best, but I am a prime example that you’re experience in Lawrence is what you make of it. I am currently a senior in Brooks School in North Andover, one of of the most prestigious college-preporatory schools in the nation. Instead of pin-pointing every “damned” thing thats wrong with the city, how bout you interview the number of youth and adults who have strived to succeed in it? Your ignorance outweighs the so called “research” you’ve done in order to write this article.

  • Kelly

    Although this is an incredibly pessimistic article, it highlights the true root of the problems in Lawrence – its corrupt political system. It’s simple: Lawrence needs new leadership. There is so much hope and an incredible sense of community in Lawrence. If you have any doubt about this – just go spend a day at the Boys and Girls Club. That Club is the beacon of hope for the children and teenagers in Lawrence – and it produces success stories too. So it’s not the people in Lawrence that need to change – it’s the leadership.

  • Madeline

    Wow, this article is scary! It probably makes outsiders even more scared of going to Lawrence. I know different. Even though there is the madness going on in the city it’s this kind of article that gives the city a bad rep. I know there are honest, good, hardworking people doing their best to raise their families the best they can. I would be nice to see an article that displays the great things going on and the positive changes the city is making. But you know what they say…bad press sells. SMH!

  • Tesp

    You pointed out many outstanding issues that are well known by the residents on the city. This article was clearly for everyone outside of Lawrence. What was the purpose of this article? Was it intended for investors to reconsider? For colleges and universities to pass on student applications? For people who drive through 93 or 495 to make sure to roll their windows up? Or was it to alienate the city further from developing relations with neighboring towns? Maybe it was for taking cheap stab at the city by describing all of us as “damned”, which other writers have been more successful than yourself at doing? Hmmm. You did manage to motivate those who comment to complain about the city and do nothing to change things, to continue doing what they do best.

  • P

    as scary as that article was, it pretty much sums up the state that we’re in. The truth does hurt. If you’ve lived in Lawrence, this article shouldn’t be of any surprise. We’re all aware at what t

  • Ron

    The story told here is harsh yet contains only facts. A long read–no doubt made inflammatory by the editors–is worth your time and consideration. Lawrence is worth your time and consideration.

  • Street

    With crime up in Lawrence. There is also crime in city hall.
    More subpeonas served by the feds today. Several people in Lawrence city hall served subpeonas.

  • Adriana

    This article is a whole new low. They have not mentioned all the good students in Lawrence, all the ones who strive to make this city a wonderful place. Why dont they mention that? Its horrible and shame on every single person making this city look like the ultimate worse.

  • Street

    Yes there are some good things in Lawrence. But there is way more bad than good since he has been mayor.. Surprising the National guard have not been called in. It is that bad.

    The feds are at the end of there investigation. Soon, The mayor of Lawrence will be no more. The feds will have him. All this bad news is because of a 7th grade dropout mayor.
    Wait until you see the crime stats just coming out since he has been mayor. You will be shocked. Hopefully he does not fly the coop before the feds get him.

  • Amiel

    I lived in Lawrence for over 27 years. I read the article and to be honest the crime doesn’t surprise me. We must all remember that mostly all immigrant cities have the same quality of life issues as Lawrence.

    Drugs fuel the majority of violence in the city.

    Who is looking for the drugs in NH, MA Vermont, & Maine??

    White america….blame it on them. They are the crackheads looking for the dope and fueling the crime in Merrimack Valley. Don’t believe me?? Look at the statistics of who the buyers are my friends

    God bless and let’s attack the problem with education with the ward on drugs

    Enough said

  • Gabriel

    You are doing a grave disservice for this community. This negative PR will keep away many businesses from attempting to turn this city around. I am a teacher at the middle school and it is no secret we are struggling. But give us a light? Don’t close the door. We have a new receiver and we are making changes. Why don’t you get out of your comfy privileged life and doing something good for a change – in a community that desperately needs it? Give us a some positive PR instead of the constant pessimism.

    I feel an unmistakable separateness between people of color and the majority population in New England. This is not a diverse place to begin with and you have just distanced that divide with this scathing article.

  • Jonathan

    Although Jay Atkinson exposes a lot of the problems everyone knows exist in Lawrence, I think that this story is erroneous, completely biased, politically motivated and it has no other purpose than to put down Lawrence and its people.
    There are many positive things going on in Lawrence that the author failed to mention. I have lived and/or done business in Lawrence for 27 years and have never had a problem in Lawrence. If you don’t look for trouble, you don’t find trouble in Lawrence.
    The author is wrong in saying that Lawrence ” has  never  been  in  worse  shape”. It seems that he wants to put the blame for all of the problems Lawrence has on the Lantigua Administration.
    Where was the author when Lawrence was deemed the “Arson Capital of the World” and “Auto Fraud Capital”? Does the author know that in the 1990′s Lawrence had to block off some streets due to all the drug dealing? Does he know Lantigua was not the Mayor then? Lawrence problems go way back and prior Mayors and the Police Chief have had their chances to do something about it and they did not do enough. Crime has gone…

  • Street

    Jay your story is about what has happened to Lawrence.What your story said is nothing new. We read about it every day in the ET. The people who think this is a one sidded story Better wake up. Since Lantigua has been mayor.
    Robberies have increased by 29%
    Aggraveted assaults increased by 56%
    Burglaries increased by 27%
    Larceney over $250 increased by 23%
    AUTO THEFT UP by 124%

  • David

    Thank you for the article. It was very informative, and the call for change sure hits the spot. I wish what is best for this once-great city. I had about 5 car break-in’s while living there, but I still drive there from time to time. I do miss playing street soccer with my old Latino friends there.

  • Stephen

    I grew up in Southern NH. I lived in Lawrence for 1 year and had 1 car stolen and another almost stolen. I have pretty bad memeories of Lawrence. It seems every neighborhood is a dump with trash every

  • dee

    see above

  • Dan Rivera

    Watch this video and join us. All are welcome. http://vimeo.com/38276609

  • anon

    Lets learn from our past, solve the present. A clean slate into the future. Easier said then done. Henry Ford said,
    beginning is coming together, staying together is progress, working together is success. He also ssid this that i really like. Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. There are no big problems; there are just a lot of little problems. he said this also, We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.

  • RAFAEL

    Yes that all you are, this is the only way you can make “headlines”, talking in a negative way about the city that some way or another you had benefic from it once…what hapend now?? yes, it’s time for “another group” to milk the poor city…Lawrence will always be a city of oportunity for whoever have the good intention of having a decent future… 30 years after living here, I know what up or down in this city!!

  • bat

    This journalist stopped here for a moment. Verbally destroyed a city maybe from ever getting up. I hope this works as reverse psychology. We have an identity a negative one. Especially for the welfare of the city. Your journalism may have gotten you some press. You have no idea the more damage you have done. Than a city that is already not in the best of ways right now. Hopefully you grow a heart and a conscience and realize there is no city, immuned to corruption. Show me that place I will eat my shorts live on CNN.

  • street

    Dan Rivera and We are Lawrence. Ask the kids at the skateboard event where Do Nothing city councilor Sandy Almonte was along with Mayor Lantigua and Patrick Blanchette who lives a few blocks from the event. They DO NOT CARE about anything good for the kids in Lawrence. These are the people who are giving Lawrence the bad image. We are Lawrence is going no where fast until these pepole are out of city hall.

  • Michelle

    I grew up in Lawrence. I walked the streets with my friends, walked from South Lawrence to Essex Street to shop with my mother and always felt safe. There was a small section of North Lawrence that you did not go to but other then that Lawrence was wonderful.

    Twelve years ago I moved out of the city, I reside in Western MA and have chosen to raise my children where it is safe. Lawrence no longer was what I considered safe. As far as Fr. O’Brien goes, he was the reason that St. Patrick School is no longer, he has taken the church from those that support the church and uses it for his own agenda. He is no better then the mayor.

  • Michelle

    Lawrence was a nice place to live, where everyone knew everyone. Then the city started catering to those that do not want to work and just expect to be taken care of.

    Then those in charge were sick of hearing and being threatened with the whole, “It’s because I’m Spanish”. No one held them accountable and now look at what they did to Lawrence. The majority of those that could, left Lawrence a long time ago. I’m proud to say I am one of them.

  • Michelle

    Those that comment that Fr. O’Brian did not stand up for the Latino’s are very inaccurate. He stole St. Patrick Parish away from the hard working Irish that built it and gave it to the Latino’s to make a name for himself. Nothing he does is in the name of being a priest, it’s in his own self interest to “be someone”. That is also why there is no longer a St. Patrick School. The school could not make him someone and either could the sisters he kicked out of the convent with very short notice so that it could sit empty.

  • winnie

    I’m a student at Lawrence High School, and my school is great. My principals are amazing and my teachers are incredible. Come interview a few of the kids who are going against all odds and not living the stereotype, of course our city needs improvement but not all of us are “damned”! We are intelligent and proud students, we are residents of Lawrence and this article is nothing but negativity. We are never credited or awarded for the good things we have done and overcome!

  • Timothy

    Hey Mr. Atkinson,
    I’d just like to let you know that I caught wind of this whole Lawrence erm, ‘scandal’, have now read both articles and fact-checked as much of these stories as I could, and I think you should know you are doing a good thing, and that I understand why you are doing it. While I half-sympathize with citizens of Lawrence being hurt by having their city called ‘godforsaken’, they must realize that this isn’t a direct criticism of the people whatsoever. Their political establishment swindled them, and their town is in a shambles due to mismanagement and corruption at almost every angle. They know this, but would rather focus on things like crime and poverty, but these two things are almost always secondary effects of a seedy primary cause: that of mismanagement or straight-up corruption. They’ve seen plenty of both, and all I feel that you’ve done is lay out the facts (it is quite unfortunate that Boston magazine made that the headline, perhaps they don’t realize your personal ties to the area or that your point was to cause debate, not to defame) in a way that’s intelligible, fair, and most of all, completely true. The so-called…

  • Mauricio

    All I can say is. If something is broken, fix it..if still is broken, then toss it!!

    If the City needs a new Leader..find it.

    Mauricio Guerrero

  • Alicia

    To all you negative ass people, shut the hell up! You guys dont know half of what most people in lawrence are going through. Stop being so damn racist and prejudice and instead try and help the city. If u don’t have nothing to do about the problems in lawrence then stop running your mouth, talking about the negative and look at all the positive things that lawrence has accomplished. To the comment that some man named Tony posted, YOU ARE AN IGNORANT RACIST PIG WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL HE’S TALKING ABOUT. If you hate lawrence and its people so bad then get the hell out! I’ve lived my whole life here and i am a great mother and a college student striving to make my son’s future a positive one. Boston Magazine you are vey unprofessional and prejudice!

  • tony

    so you marched because the magazines truths made you mad. maybe if you got made about the crime, and everything else you would not be dammed.. you have the exact same ammount of people causing the exact same problems.. until you can remove and face the problems, you can march all you want… it does not fix squat. your populace act like overgrown spoiled children, you people marching are not the problems its the 30000 leaches we have in this city, but you all cant accept that can you? truth sucks

  • Mister

    This article highlights exactly how the City of Lawrence is. Full of murder, drugs, and criminal activity. This is to be blamed on behalf of City leadership (the mayor), which is a disgrace, and the community of immigrants from DR, that bring their carefree and island lifestyle ridden with criminal intent and greed to MA. The City is full of closed minded and ignorant people who will forever be apart of the travesty that occurs here in Lawrence on a daily basis.

  • tere

    Yes, sure there are a lot of things and people that are bad in lawrence, like every where else in massachusetts. every person in this world always looks at the bad things first and than look at the good things second. People should concentrate more on the positive things instead of the negative. For example,students, employes, we do have a bad reputation but that doesn’t mean that every single person in our city is bad we lots of good things to be proud of and we just have to work on trying to balance how we acting and things we doing every body make mistakes but i know we can do better by supporting each other,by the way most of the people come from different citys to do bad things in here but this is not the case the case is that instead of talking bad about us why don’t you help and try to make things better. Lawrence is recognize as a bad place with bad people bad schools bad examples and a really bad attitued but that doesn’t mean there’s not people that are doing the right thing to make this city a good place. Theirs violence, drugs…

  • goerge

    I am a fifies white male with a late teen son living in the City of Lawrence for twenty one years now. A former resident of Peabody and Danvers of twenty years life 18 miles apart is completely differant here.
    Manners, respect of others are all out the window here.
    English is the second langauge.
    Young peoples cars rule the streets with thier ear shattering illegal exhaust systems to daul 12 inch woofer speakers in the trunk racing all over city streets at night.
    My home broken into twice in the last 4 years.
    My son asaulted and robbed on his home street on his brithday.
    Yes this article doesn’t mention all the good being done in lawrence, and those are missed facts. But I work on the ground level with the people of lawrence and the fact is, you can paint a house but the inside stays the same.
    These people here will never change….

  • george

    The story is a very good piece of creative writing!

  • Fran

    I am a Lawrence High graduate and also my sister. We are hardworking people who are strugling to keep my sister who is in college, at boston at a private school. WE also have good neighbors, theres never crimes in my side of the town. But who says there isn’t ctime in Methuen, Andover, Lowell, ETC.? I am not in a fancy college because I dont want bring more debts to my parents so my choice is community college. So why dont you write an article about something else? Lawrence is not the only place thats corrupted. Why not start with Boston?

  • Mona

    Lawrence is way more than the words you’ve spoken in this editoral.

  • Marguerite

    I grew up in Lawrence, taught in Lawrence(until I was attacked by a third grade boy), support people and businesses in Lawrence and I believe Jay wrote and painted an accurate picture of Lawrence today! I truly believe with a new regime (not present regime)of both school and city leaders, The City of Lawrence can and will come back to the beautiful place it was!

  • Yanill

    Any one can go and point out negative aspects of a city. It’s easy because as we all know that nobody or place is perfect, and lawrence is by no means perfect. That is why it angers me when articles like this are published. because instead promoting the good things that lawrence has to offer, they shine a light on the bad, furthering discrimination and resentment towards the people of this city. Believe me I can point out many negative statistics about boston as well! But I am too good of a person to fall that low…

  • Ned

    I’m sorry but I have seen rough areas in the state. I’ve been to Brockton dozens of times, fall river, new bedford etc.

    Lawrence is bad…very bad.

    I used to work for a group that helped high school drop outs and we did show good improvements in students. But we could not operate in Lawrence because the problems are way too high.

    If you drop out of high school there are no jobs for you..period. The military won’t take you and you end up competing with illegal aliens for work. 45% of the people in the state have a bachelors degree. So for half of a high school to drop out means the whole place slows down.

    I used to see a women that lives in lawrence. She said it was more like North Andover and the only reason why she feels safe is because a judge lives down the street..and she STILL wants to move out because she does not feel safe!

    If the violence went down and the graduation rate went up then some gentrification could happen. Until then it will continue to decline economically. Violence is not attractive to business just ask anyone of middle eastern descent.

  • Lawrence

    The only thing more cliched than Atkinson’s article about Lawrence is when a 2-bit writer from Massachusetts opens and closes a bleak urban tale with quotes from a colorful Catholic priest. By recycling so many urban cliches in the writing of this article, Atkinson saves us the trouble of having to throw this issue of Boston Magazine directly into the trash. By the way, did the author ever follow the 40is blonde in the SUV to see where she lives? It could become the subject of his next story: Heroin in Pleasantville!

  • M

    This article is disgusting. There are negative aspects to every city. I was born and raised in Lawrence, graduated college, have a full time job and I’m doing well for myself. Most of my Lawrence friends are college graduates or are in the process of getting their diploma. Why can’t these middle class white Americans realize that there are different cultures with different customs around here. Take the blinders off! While you are so busy pointing fingers and riding your high horses, your children are in college running trains, doing coke, and pill popping. Ask any minority. White suburban kids in college are the craziest and the females are looser than who knows what.

  • John

    Lawrence? Really? You think that’s nasty? I live near Oakland, Richmond and Vallejo CA.

    Lawrence times 100.

    That’s the Bush/Republican Legacy.

  • X

    Do we really need all these barber shops you lazy goons?!

  • Shaila

    I’ve lived and grown in the city of Lawrence for many years. It is unfortunate that this article is based on personal opinion before doing some actual research. I graduated in Lawrence high and my friends and I went to the best schools in the states. WPI, HARVARD, HOLY CROSS among many other great schools that you can even think of. We graduated and got our degrees and are working. Some are even leaders here in the community and are well recognized for the amazing work they have done. To those who only base their opinion with the opinion of others, please do some research and educate yourself before judging.

  • Max

    This comment has been removed for violating our commenting policy.

  • Bibi

    This city hasnt been good since they shipped jobs over to Mexico and China .. there arent jobs here, all we had was industry .. but now there is no structure in the government either .. everyone knows that but nothing isbeing done

  • yenny

    I believe that some of the things are true, we have a lot of crimes and our school system is not that good compared to others, but I found that the author is been very negative and dramatic and I know that everybody have their own opinion but I think that before making such an assumption it is important to look at both sides not only the negative ones because for every negative thing that happens in Lawrence there are million of good ones that we don’t talk about, such as when some students in Lawrence graduate and go to college, there are also many hard working people that wake up early in the morning to provide for the families. I proposed making an article about that, because sometimes we blinded ourselves by the stereotypes without giving ourselves the chance to look beyond those ideas.Instead of judging it will be better if we talk about solutions to the problem.

  • britian

    Wow what a great story a movie should be made out of this story god bless all the people who care about this forgotten city maybe you should be our leader father obrien

  • Nancy

    Father O’Brien, I pray you find a way to end the corruption of Lawrence/Boston DCF. They are so desperate for money they are kidnapping children under the guise of “saving” children from their loving functional families. They make up crazy “stephen king like” stories and sell these children they abducted from their families for profit. Please stop this horrendous travesty to humanity and expose DCF’s corruption so they can be punished to the fullest extent of the law for what they do to families for financial gain. God Bless you.

  • Jim

    I have googled “Dominican Restaurants in Lawrence, MA” because I have been to the DR 7 times and loved the DR’s food and especially the Santo Domingo Coffee. But I only found 2 bakeries. Does anyone know of good DR restaurants in the area? I live in Lowell and there seems to be none here as well. I would appreciate it if someone could share this information as I have been craving DR food for a couple of years. Many Thanks, James

  • http://BostonMagazine Jim

    It because the negative out weighs any positive that may exist in Lawrence.

  • http://BostonMagazine Jim

    FYI John, Lawrence is approximately 3 square miles with a population of more than 150,000 85% minority based, and an unemployment rate of 16%. Now how does it compare?

  • http://BostonMagazine Jim

    Lawrence is being written about because of the corruption that exists in the mayors office. You can that Lantigua for all the negative publicity. Andover doesn’t have a corrupt mayor.