Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I was out to dinner with a friend tonight at the outstanding Armsby Abbey on North Main St and she was saying after being away from Worcester for a bit there is something drawing her back here at the moment.

A little history here. She grew up in the 'burbs of Boston but ended up going to school here. One of the infamous "college kids" the city always talks about retaining. After college she stuck around for a bit and just like many other young adults with degrees she got disgusted with the city and it's abundance of typical city problems without all the good things a city can offer and she left with her finger in the air and bought a house up in the sticks of North County.

Why does she want to move back?

"It just feels like home."

I have never written about this here but I have been saying for a long time that as a city we should try to figure out a way to get the college kids to "fall in love" with the city. While this was a pretty solid idea in my own head I think (and rightly so) no one knew what the hell I was talking about.

This is what I am talking about. Home.

An actual emotional connection with the city. An abundance of good times. An abundance of adversity. Memories. Friendships. STUFF TO DO.

Make the city friendlier to the young, educated, cultured, adult.

How do we do this? I am not sure. I have some ideas of my own of course that are not fully fleshed out, but I just wanted to write about this while I was thinking about it. Hopefully it makes you think too.


Anonymous said...

You forgot to add... getting drunk in Worcester!
That's what student life is all about.

Gabe said...

That's exactly the problem. If at the end of four years all you have to show for it is a degree and 200 nights of beer pong and keg stands with your buddy Walshy why the hell would you stay?

Granted there are some kids out there that no matter where they go to school that's all they are going to have, but some kids are looking for something more than that.

Anonymous said...

Sweet! I'm blogged about!

Yeah, there was the nutty college bar scene, but that's not what kept me here. I think it was all the quirks. Being able to hit the dog or Ralph's for music and knowing I'll find some friends there. Shrewsbury St, Tatnuck, and the overall city vibe. I miss it, but sometimes I wonder if moving back will just disgust me again.

kieran said...

We are lacking the critical mass needed for substantial progress.
There are plenty of things that can be done immediately to help foster what is needed. Why doesn't the city work on improvements such as allowing more on-street parking (reducing off-street parking req.), upgrading the primary pedestrian corridors, single tax rate, selling under-utilised assets, consolidating or outsourcing city services (eg pools, DPW), dis-integrating the large schools in favour of the notably more successful neighbourhood and charter schools where the staff can direct resources where needed.

I think many of the things that appeal to recent college grads (I was one just a few years ago) exist in small quantities and at spread-out locations in the city. There aren't many movie theatres, bookstores, bowling alleys, shopping areas, gyms or jobs in the core of the city. If I'm looking for an evening of entertainment I head to Boston. The round-trip to and from Boston works out to not much more time but much more fun than driving between a restaurant, a movie theatre, a coffee shop and a bar in Worcester/Millbury/Shrewsbury/ Worcester.

The Wyman-Gordon property offers a chance for a big addition to Worcester but without the initial cost to clear the site like what that associated with the City Square debacle.

Gabe said...

Kieran you are right about how spread out everything is and I think right now City Square and the Canal District have the best shot at fixing that but it's such a long shot as to whether the right things are going to happen.

The Canal District has the bars and restaurants right now. I think the next step is to figure out how to get it densely populated with the right demographic and then all the other stuff (bookstores, coffee shops, movie theaters) will come naturally.

As a city we need to fix the stigma that urban Worcester is a dirty and dangerous ghetto suitable only for the poor unfortunate and at least turn a portion of it into a place that people not only want to live in, but are demanding to live in. he city cannot progress until we first acknowledge that we need this and then come up with a plan to make it happen.

Too many citizens of Worcester will not admit that we need educated productive hard working people who want to make the city their home living in the urban core. NEED. Not want. Not, "oh wouldn't that be nice."