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July 17, 2013

A prospering Lawrence debuts during Friday's Red Sox game

LAWRENCE — Nina Gaffny’s grandfather emigrated from Italy and then opened a bakery on Union Street at the height of the city’s industrial might in 1915, and for decades delivered bread and cakes by horse and carriage.

Many of the red brick mills that made Lawrence great by producing textiles for the world have gone condo. Gaffny’s grandfather, Orazio Fisichelli, died in 1978. There are few if any working horses left in Lawrence.

But the Fisichelli Pastry Shop has endured through three generations at the site beside Lawrence General Hospital where it opened 98 years ago, demonstrating a devotion to what is now the state’s poorest city that will be recognized in an ad campaign Eastern Bank will be broadcasting through the summer.

The ad will debut during the broadcast of the Red Sox-Yankees game Friday at 7 p.m. on NESN and will air 90 times through August, said Andrew Ravens, a spokesman for the bank.

It portrays a city of thriving families and small business owners and their hard-at-work employees, an alternative view of a city that even local councilmen concede has an image problem.

The ad hints at the hardscrabble image of the city that began evolving when the mills began closing after World War II, fed by media accounts such as the one that appeared in Boston magazine last year titled, “Lawrence, MA: City of the Damned.” Backed by a fast-paced and upbeat soundtrack, a voice-over says Eastern Bank’s decision to open a branch on Essex Street in 2011 grew from “an unwavering belief that sometimes the best business opportunities are found where others have looked away.”

“Our view is more productive than just continuing to harp on all the things that people have perceived about Lawrence over the years,” said Bob Rivers, the bank’s president. “That doesn’t get us anywhere.”

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