Thursday, July 10, 2008

Neighborhoods 2

Let's face it. Worcester doesn't know whether it is coming or going when it comes to neighborhoods.

If you look around the internet you will find all sorts of different info on the neighborhoods of Worcester. Over at Buy Worcester Now they list the city as having 26 different neighborhoods. If you go to the city council website you will find that according to the city each district councilor represents about 12-15 different neighborhoods. At 5 districts that's about 75 neighborhoods. We all know Worcester doesn't have 75 different neighborhoods of course. My favorite breakdown of the neighborhoods and the one I feel to be the most correct is supplied in the Worcester Housing Study. The study breaks Worcester down into 15 submarkets along with maps that clearly define each of the submarkets.

Beaver Brook
College Hill
East Side
Great Brook
Green Hill
Green Island
Main South
North Side
Oak Hill
South East
South West
West Side

This is my favorite simply because I agree with it. I feel the way they have seperated the neighborhoods is correct culturally as well as the overall feel of the neighborhoods. There's a couple things I would change. I would extend the downtown neighborhood all the way to Chadwick Sq. I would leave the natural boundaries of Green Island intact and include the whole Canterbury St area with the rest of Main South. That is only two off the top of my head.

So why all this neighborhood talk?

I feel it's important.

I think there is a need to define Worcester's neighborhoods. To give them distinct boundaries. To profile them. To let the world know about them. To give people an expectation of what they will find when they visit them. To give people a bit of a guide as to what it is like to walk down the streets in these neighborhoods. If you are a Worcester resident or someone familiar with the city ask yourself this. If someone where to want to move here and they were to ask you where they should move, what would you say? If you asked them questions as to what kind of neighborhood they were looking for would you be able to give them an idea based on their response?

Simply put, if you break the city down into neighborhoods and then look at it that way it is easier to tackle some of the problems that ail it and feel good about some of the progress that it is making.

I think it is very easy to think of Worcester and think of it as just one big neighborhood. I know for a fact that is how a great deal of people who know of Worcester but don't KNOW Worcester feel about it.

Imagine a guide that broke down all the neighborhoods, what housing was like there, what the schools were like there, talked about the parks and the shopping and the nightlife or lack of in each of the neighborhoods. I think if there was something out there that did this and did it comprehensively I think the neighborhoods would really start to take shape. It is an insider's city. If I was to come here to live and not know anyone odds are I would end up in the wrong neighborhood. There is nothing telling me anything about any of the neighborhoods in the city online. This is something else that ails our urban core too. We are an old mill town. I feel we can get to the point where the city is asthetically pleasing but it is going to take a lot of time and we are already way behind in getting there. If you don't know the city the entire urban core most likely appears to you to be a train wreck that you are better off stearing clear of.

Maybe this is something the city could work on. Defining the neighborhoods. Fostering strong neighborhood associations who will take the reigns in the marketing of their neighborhoods. I know I would love to see it.

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