Publication Date

January 1986

Journal or Book Title

Journal of the American Planning Association


This article describes and analyzes the economic transformation of Maynard, Massachusetts. Located twenty-six miles west of Boston, Maynard was the home of the world's largest woolen mill. In 1950 the mill closed and 1,200 jobs were lost. During the next ten years, the town gradually recovered as the mill became the home of several innovative companies. Ultimately, the mill became the headquarters for the world's largest manufacturer of minicomputers. The circle is now complete: the mill is full and houses a company that claims a "world's largest" designation. The article analyses the rise and fall of the American Woolen Company; examines the steps taken to stimulate recovery, and their results; identifies and examines the important elements that led to the economic transformation; and offers potential lessons for planners in towns undergoing similar changes.


This is a preprint of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in Journal of the American Planning Association c2006 Copyright American Planning Association; Journal of the American Planning Association is available online at