Posted by: Alex MacGregor | April 27, 2013

A Walk Through Worcester

Work recently took me to Central Massachusetts (not quite as exotic is China or Brazil, but there are worse places to end up), and, given my recent post about Boston, I decided to extend the series to Massachusetts’ second largest city: Worcester.

hillside

Worcester is a pleasant little place, and I lucked out with a perfectly sunny March day (the wind was brisk and chilled right down to the bone, but at least wind doesn’t ruin pictures!).

worcester common

Like Boston, Worcester is laid out around a central Common that feels distinctly New England. Worcester is kind of like a kid brother to Boston in a lot of ways, and, just an hour away by car or train, is home to a lot of commuters into Boston.

turtle boy

But Worcester does beat Boston–handily–in one category: the most unintentionally inappropriate statue. You can peruse the Wikipedia article on this 100-year old statue for the complete details, but the “Turtle Boy” has earned its share of local celebrity.

Worcester has among the most unintuitive pronunciations of any place I have heard of. To the best of my knowledge, it’s pronounced “wuss-ter”–feel free to chime in if I’m off base here.

central1

A main shopping street in central Worcester. The city’s growth mainly occurred prior to the automobile, so there is a lot more density downtown than you’d expect in a city of 200,000.

Most of the scene downtown these days is decidedly working class, in stark contrast to Boston.

central subway

For instance, any time you’ve got a fake Subway in your neighborhood, you’re definitely not looking at prime commercial real estate. There’s actually something very similar in downtown Atlanta at the corner of Forsyth and MLK–that one even took promotional signs from a real Subway and hangs them on the windows!

central2

Given the surging cost of living in Boston, Worcester has also become a significant hub for immigrants. According to DHS data, Worcester attracted almost as many immigrants in 2012 as Jacksonville, Florida! Notice the Chinese characters on the side of the truck.

Locals often blame the perceived demise of downtown Worcester (although it still feels pretty bustling and vibrant to me) on the development of a big shopping mall on the east edge of downtown in the 1970s, which allegedly sucked the life out of the main shopping streets, never to return.

old mall

Nowadays, the mall is closed and mostly demolished.

old warehouses

Renovated warehouses a bit further to the east–towards Boston and firmly outside of downtown–appear to house much of the city’s upscale dining and retail now.

train sta1

Worcester is definitely a worthy addition to my ever-growing train-station photo collection. Easily among the cities I have seen whose train station is most out of proportion with the current importance of the place.

train sta2

train sta3

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Responses

  1. […] like Worcester, 100 miles to the east, is a pleasant, manageable city that’s still large enough to have […]


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