An account of what I see, hear, smell, taste and touch in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts and beyond.
Monday, June 7, 2010
They're just not that into you Worcester
I am slowly starting to realize that this right here is Worcester's biggest obstacle to becoming a true city with a non poor urban core. The majority of people who grow up in Central Mass and stay here are not people who enjoy a dense urban lifestyle. People who do enjoy city living and want to stay in the area almost always end up moving to Boston, Providence or NYC. So what you have left is a very small minority of folks who truly love the city and are living in the urban neighborhoods and trying to make things better. Than you have folks moving to "the second largest city in New England" (a title true in population only and false in every other way imaginable) expecting all that title would entail and being hugely disappointed. What you have here is a bunch of people trying to run a city who haven't the faintest clue about what true city living is being voted in by a population who could care less about true city living.
Worcester for most of it's history prior to the industrial revolution was a small town. In the span of about 40 very quick years it became a city on the cusp of being a great American city. I-290, the GI bill, and white flight halted this practice in it's tracks in the 50's and 60's and the entire city has been an exercise in futility ever since. The title of second largest city in New England plus the skyscrapers and other big city infrastructure has fooled Central Mass into having faith that this city should be something it isn't and fooled New England and the rest of the outside world to expect this city to be something it just doesn't have the capacity of becoming.
Add in the fact that the metropolitan area is absolutely tiny. Worcester has far less people coming into the city on a daily basis to use it's services and amenities than Boston, Providence, Hartford, New Haven, Springfield, and Albany, and even Lowell. We like to compare ourselves to Providence but people can't seem to grasp the idea that a Northeastern cities density and metropolitan area are what make it feel like a large city not it's population.
If Boston was laid out like a southern city of over 150 square miles it would be an absolute megalopolis. Providence and Hartford would be very large cities of over a million people. Worcester would still only be about 300,000 people. Think about that next time you are comparing and thinking about what you think Worcester should be versus what it is.
I live in Worcester, Massachusetts. I try to make the best of it by getting excited about the good things it does offer while at the same time thinking about how it could be better and live up to it's potential.