Once home to the world's largest textile mill – at its peak, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company employed 17,000 people (out of a city population of 70,000) – this riverside town retains, both historically and culturally, a bit of its blue-collar roots. Exploiting the abundant water power of the Merrimack River, and stretching along its east bank for over a mile, the mill made the city into a manufacturing and commercial powerhouse from 1838 until its bankruptcy in the 1930s.
Nowadays, attracted by low taxes and a diverse workforce, the high-tech and financial industries have moved in, bringing city culture with them. The former mill is a prime symbol of successful redevelopment: the redbrick swath of structures houses a museum, an arts center, a college, restaurants and a growing array of local businesses. Manchester has opera, several orchestras, a growing gallery and dining scene, and the state's most important art museum.