Founded in the early 1700s and incorporated as a city in 1846, Manchester was first called Derryfield. The community had a water-powered mill and was primarily agricultural. General John Stark, a Revolutionary War hero and the town's most famous citizen, penned New Hampshire's motto: "Live Free or Die." Derryfield was eventually renamed Manchester in 1810 by Samuel Blodget, who built locks and canals around Amoskeag Falls to open river trade routes with Boston and Concord, as a way to honor the great industrial city of Manchester, England. By then, Manchester became the largest textile producing city in America and by the 1830s the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company owned more than 30 mills covering more than 8 million square feet, employing thousands of people who produced nearly 5 million yards of cloth each week. One hundred years later, Manchester became the financial and industrial center of New Hampshire.
Historic buildings in Manchester include the Palace Theatre, which was built in 1915. Built in 1950, and one of Wright's Usonian houses, the home contains original Wright-designed furniture, textiles and landscaping. The tallest building in northern New England, City Hall Plaza, is also located in Manchester. The Manchester Historic Association's Millyard Museum contains over 11,000 years of history. Manchester's social and industrial history, including artifacts and records from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, are located along side American Indian artifacts and 19th century firefighting equipment. The Historic Association is over 100 years old.
The Currier Museum of Art contains works from the 13th century to the present, including pieces by Winslow Homer, Matisse, Monet, Georgia O'Keeffe, Picasso and Andrew Wyeth. There are also works by New Hampshire artists and crafts people and a collection of American furniture. The New Hampshire Institute of Art educates its students in fine arts, crafts and foreign languages. The Institute also features exhibits by local and nationally acclaimed artists. Art Builds Community! is the central resource for art, history and culture in Manchester and the surrounding communities. The Manchester Arts Commission oversees the McIninch Family Gallery, "Art on the Wall," and "Open Doors Manchester." Intown Manchester serves as the catalyst for downtown redevelopment and acts as the sponsor for various downtown events, including art exhibits and community celebrations. Manchester annual events include parades, fireworks shows, ethnic festivals and summer concerts.
The Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center is located on the Merrimack River and offers education year round with public programs and programs for school children. The Massabesic Audubon Center sponsors school programs, field trips, camp programs and a bird banding station. The Verizon Wireless Arena is the area's main civic venue with more than 10,000 seats for concerts, sports and other events. There are three professional sports teams in Manchester: the Manchester Monarchs hockey team, the Manchester Wolves arena football team and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball team. Manchester is served by Manchester Airport with more than 75 flights daily to East Coast and Midwest cities.
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