How Lynn Became The Shoe Capitol Of The World

Chances are that the shoes you are wearing on your feet right now were made somewhere outside the United States. But that wasn’t always the case. Today we travel to the late 19th century, for the story of the African-American immigrant who transformed Lynn, Massachusetts into the shoe capital of the world.

They were making shoes in Lynn before there even was a Lynn.

“We have a shoe ledger which dates back to 1623 which is six years prior to the founding, the incorporation of the town,” said Abby Battis, of the Lynn Museum and Historical Society.

During the colonial era, Lynn was dotted with 10 foot by 10 foot shacks where artisan shoemakers practiced their craft.

 
A lasting machine created by Jay Matzeliger, on display at the Lynn Museum and Historical Society.

A lasting machine created by Jay Matzeliger, on display at the Lynn Museum and Historical

Society.Edgar B. Herwick III / WGBH

By Edgar B. Herwick III @ebherwick3

Edgar runs WGBH’s Curiosity Desk, where he aims to dig a little deeper (and sometimes askew) into topics in the news and looks for answers to questions posed by the world around us.

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