Nashua, New Hampshire
Nashua is the second largest city in New Hampshire, but that is tantamount to being the second-biggest flea on a very small dog. Its population is around 90,000, including all the French Canadians you couldn't want. It is called "The Gate City" because calling it "The Clap City" would be ambiguous.
Nashua was first settled as the town of Dunstable by British colonists. Its modern name comes from an Indian chief, who Nashed his teeth at the boorishness of the colonists. National junk-mail databases aptly refer to the city as Nausha.
Though it is more lucrative for a town to have one too many lawyers than one too many prostitutes, Nashua always chose the latter. Mills sprang up on the Nashua River and employed many "mill girls" who did not work in the mills. The mills opened up job opportunities for the Quebecois who had not gotten homesick for even harsher winters. Many stayed in Nashua and became mill girls who actually worked in mills. In 1853, historic Dunstable was finally incorporated as Nashua after multiple rapid-fire name changes, including "Poultry-rama" and "Pick-A-Chick."
Eventually, electricity surpassed Nashua's plentiful water power, the mills declined, and the Quebecois moved to a part of town called French Hill, to become the ancestors of the modern city's white trash. But soon, the concept of a shopping Mecca that was close to, but not taxable by, Massachusetts became compelling, and Nashua's current era began.
The Pheasant Lane Mall on the south Nashua strip, named by a focus group after absolutely nothing, is Nashua's biggest mall ever. Previous biggest-ever malls, such as the Nashua Mall to the north, lie underused, with overcoat factory outlets and year-'round Christmas tree stores that no one ever went to. (There are people who don't mind being ten years out of fashion, but no one drives out of his way for a chance to do so.) Pheasant Lane Mall has been in decline since the Massholes started returning to the rival Burlington Mall in Burlington, Massachusetts. Mall management toyed with the idea of banning the schoolgirls in their hot pants who loiter after school until closing and never buy anything, but saw extinction staring it in the face.
The mall can be seen above. Despite the brick façade, it doesn't look like a historic woolen mill; it looks like a mall. Most of the parking is in Massachusetts, where there is a 6.25% sales tax; all of the stores are in New Hampshire, where there isn't. The nubile young shoppers who returned to Burlington obviously aren't there to purchase. But the sales tax doesn't apply to sale of services.
Signs on US-3 at the city limits brag that Nashua was considered "The Best City to Live In" in 1987 and 1997. Now it's about 80th place, unless you like government spy cameras on tall poles.
Mayor Donnalee Lozeau campaigned to bring new ideas to city government and to make sure the sun keeps rising in the West. Her predecessor was Bernie Streeter, notorious for crashing a city staff car in Manchester on a private errand (Didn't know it was a one-way street), and for his version of "giving back," using a city dumpster to dispose of leaves from his home. Alderman David McLaughlin is popular, though not so popular that any of his colleagues inquired about his long absence from City Council. He was in a Massachusetts jail, serving time for felony drunk driving. His third offense would not have been a felony in New Hampshire, so he is not barred from seeking re-election--except, happily, by his own shame.
Former alderman Tom Alciere is notorious for stating that a citizen who feels he has been wrongly arrested should try to kill the policeman. Alciere will always be a candidate, though not of any party that has a State Committee, but is no longer a Nashuan.
The next town over is Dunstable, as Nashua itself was briefly, and there are no fewer than twenty roads with Dunstable in their name, including Main Dunstable Road, Middle Dunstable Road, and Funky Dunstable Road. The suburban housing in this area serves as a buffer between downtown and the real world.
Luxury condos exist near the Merrimack River. If you are shopping for one, follow the signs carefully; the outrageous detour will keep you from seeing Canal Street, the Spanish-language signage, the bars representing every Latin nationality, and the envio de dinero offices that all nationalities may use. You'll get to know them well when you take the direct route on your daily commute.
In a region of the world where ground water has a faint taste of rust, the taste of tap water in Nashua instead varies between muck and bleach, depending on the chef on duty. The scenic Pennichuck River north of town, and the very scenic Cyclone fences that surround it, are the city's water supply. In 2010, the City moved to condemn and acquire the Pennichuck Water Works. This move replaced an unresponsive system (one monopolistic supplier, to which citizens are unavoidably linked by underground pipes) with the same thing, only run by bureaucrats.
The other activities of City Council include wrestling with the reasons that people are not flocking downtown to pay the parking meters to view vacant storefronts. The Councillors concluded that it was too hard to get there and condemned dozens of properties to make way for the proposed new Broad Street Connector and a new river crossing. Rev Two of the plan, styled the Broad Street Alley, is down to two lanes and the City Council is now repackaging some of the seized land for resale to interested parties.
What to do in Nashua
Minor-league baseball was played in Nashua for years, but the 2009 season ended early when the mayor placed a front-end loader on home plate in lieu of a ninth notice to pay the rent.
So there is now nothing to do. Despite its size, the city has no cinema metroplex. Residents are expected to have a basement with Internet and video games and spend the evenings there, if not the entire day. The chief amusements in town are (1) complaining to the City that the government should provide amusements, and (2) whining on blogs that 12 years was too long to wait for that crummy ball club and its sweetheart rent deal to finally go out of business.
Of course, you can always go to the Mall and watch the chicks; or park at the end of the runway and watch the planes land.
- No, these are actually former take-out joints, not to forget the Mexican seafood place, "El Poseidon."