Giving Worcester Some Credit
By Kelly Rourke
It is generally agreed upon that the City of Worcester is not what it once was. Folks in their 60s and 70s tell tales of a bustling Worcester that was reminiscent of downtown Boston when it was in its heyday. Shops like Filenes made their homes downtown and there was even a decent amount of foot traffic. Weekends would be the busiest times when people would flock to the movie theater and have dinner at one of the city’s many restaurants. It was a time when people proudly proclaimed that they were from Worcester.
Now, whenever I travel with other people who live in the area, I find them answering the question of where they live with ‘I live in Massachusetts, about an hour outside of Boston.’ This statement is often met with a follow up question from the asker ‘Oh, whereabouts?’ to which the Massachusetts resident will finally say ‘Worcester.’ More often than not, I have heard an affirmative response from the asker and they have known exactly where Worcester is. So why isn’t Worcester the first answer?
It is undeniable that Worcester lives in the shadow of Boston, but they are two cities that really can’t be compared. A good deal of the reason why Worcester gets such a bad reputation is because of this comparison that people attempt to draw. The size difference alone is enough to set the cities far apart, not to mention the fact that Boston has an international airport within its city limits which no doubt brings people to the city in droves.
Instead of focusing on all of the things Worcester doesn’t have, why don’t we start focusing on everything it does? For starters, it is home to some of the best restaurants and eateries in the state. It also boasts an incredible amount of culture and is home to many fine arts institutions such as The Worcester Art Museum, The Hanover Theatre, Mechanics Hall and more. Not to mention the city is home to nine colleges, many of them highly ranked and well known.
Years ago I heard the Seven Hills Charter School choir sing a song about Worcester, which included the lyrics, ‘Worcester, the heartbeat of Massachusetts. Worcester, the heartbeat of it all!’ It seems to me that this used to be the case and that Worcester really was the heartbeat of the state. It certainly doesn’t feel that way right now.
With all of the recent developments going on in the city, Worcester is on the verge of a recovery. It needs the help of its residents to move forward and regain its footing as the vibrant city it once was. Let’s have a little faith, restart that heartbeat that used to live in the city and give Worcester credit where credit is due.