Over at Bill Randell's blog on Monday he put up a link to an excellent post on the Sringfield/Hartford blog Urban Compass titled Neighborhoods As Building Blocks. I have been saying for a while that Worcester really needs to put some serious thought into officially defining it's neighborhoods and in turn promote and define what life is like as a resident in these neighborhoods. As they always are in these matters Providence is one step ahead of us already.
In my opinion (one which is shared by many, just seemingly not in the city which I call home) neighborhoods create community, a sense of home, and a sense of belonging. I saw this first hand in my time in Baltimore. The nicest neighborhoods in the city were the ones with a strong community of homeowners who lived in their neighborhoods by choice and intended to work together to make their neighborhood as collectively liveable as they possibly could. In turn the neighborhoods draw renters like myself who due to the identity of the neighborhoods find it easy to figure out which neighborhood is going to suit their needs and where they should begin looking for an apartment.
When I moved to Baltimore I narrowed my search down to about five neighborhoods in the city that I would look into and ended up finding exactly what I wanted just one street south of one of the neighborhoods I was looking for. In my 35 years it's still the nicest place I have ever lived including where I lived growing up.
I can't even fathom being an urban minded person relocating to Central Massachusetts from another part of the country and trying to figure out where to live. I think sometimes as Worcester folk we take for granted everything the city has to offer and don't realize that it really is an insider's city and you can live here for years without ever seeing a band at Ralph's, getting breakfast at the Gold Star, getting a Hot Dog at Coney Island, or taking a trip to the Worcester Art Museum or Mechanics Hall.
Our city does a tremendous disservice to itself by not taking the initiative on it's own to define and promote everything it's neighborhoods have to offer and give someone who is coming to Worcester for the first time, whether to live, work, or play, a general idea as to what they are dealing with and where they need to go to take care of whatever need or want they may have. Of course they could always leave it up to the ever positive citizens of Worcester to tell them themselves. Many might think after further search that Worcester is just one big neighborhood unto itself.
Neighborhood development works economically too because once neighborhoods start to become defined, enteprenours will find it easier to decide where the best place is to open up their business to take advantage of whatever customer base exists immediately outside their door. You are already starting to see this happen in the May St/Chandler St corridor with businesses such as Spiritual Haze, The Q and Buddha Hut all opening over the past year all within an easy walk of each other. I can't tell you over the years how many businesses I have seen open with seemingly no research into location at all. The lack of synergy here in Worcester is down right apalling sometimes. How long is it going to take for someone to open up a nice restaurant in Federal Square to compliment the Hanover Theater?
Konnie L., Mikey O and the rest of you movers and shakers, get out your damn notepads and jot this shit down. This is how it's done:
Where I ended up living: Remington
My two favorite neighborhoods in the city: Hampden, Fell's Point
Two of the more exclusive neighborhoods in Baltimore: Federal Hill, Mount Vernon
Arguably the worst neighborhood in Baltimore: Sandtown
One of the more up and coming neighborhoods in Baltimore: Pigtown/Washington Village
I lived in Baltimore for 9 months and garnered all this information. This is not a coincidence. Baltimore makes it easy. Worcester should very very much make a serious effort to do the same. Do whatever research you need to do just get it done!
Some other cities broken down into neighborhoods: