hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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April 4, 2013

Mysteries unveiled

Readers identify shoe workers in old photos

(Continued)

”Pam Millington contacted us regarding the picture posted in the Gazette on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, which showed three men seated in a row,” Kimball said. “She thought the first seated man looked a lot like her grandfather, who spent most of his life in the shoe industry. She did not know who the other two men were.”

The commission to looking to create a memorial to honor Haverhill’s shoe workers and has received a $2,010 grant from the city’s Cultural Council for the purchase of a bronze plaque.

”We have been given permission to hang this plaque on the new parking garage, on the outside brick wall facing the trains,” Kimball said. “Then the next project will probably be a larger, more involved memorial. Eventually, we would like to make a brochure available to tourists, citing where all the shoe factories used to be, potentially with plaques providing background information on those companies.”

Kimball said Mayor James Fiorentini is very supportive of the project. During his time as mayor, Fiorentini has made it a point to recognize the shoe-making history of the city. His relatives worked in the industry.

Shoe factory workers were the city’s “soul” and helped shape Haverhill into what it is today, Fiorentini said in a letter of support to the commission.

”This project propels the momentum the downtown is realizing throughout the city’s Smartgrowth District, which has witnessed the transformation of old underutilized shoe mills into over 500 new units of housing, along with new shops, offices, galleries, restaurants and a parking garage around our Amtrak and commuter rail station,” Fiorentini said.

In the early 20th century, the city was a mecca for the manufacturing of women’s shoes in the United States. At one point, local factories made 10 percent of the shoes produced in the nation, earning Haverhill the nickname “Queen Slipper City.”

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