02 October 2009

Worcester, a lovely little place...

About once a month the Urban Mechanic visits Worcester for a board meeting for a statewide group (plus other "statewide" events throughout the year). After having carried out this routine for the past several years Urban Mechanic has discovered quite a few things that make the city interesting, beyond its "centrality," which apparently is the attraction for all of the non-Bostonian Bay Staters who insist on meeting in Worcester (and not Boston) for such statewide functions.

First off, in any other state Worcester would be known as quite the college town with nine colleges and universities. That may not hold up to the nearly 100 or so colleges and universities (30 or so within Boston proper) around greater Boston. Yet, it is still a sizable mass of higher education.

Along with all of those colleges and universities comes of course some of the usual town and gown, but also the trappings of the modern "knowledge" economy (i.e. research and development, knowledge economy).

Further, the city has some physical character and charm. There are lovely hills aplenty. The city hall (above) doesn't give off the appearance of being a concrete packing crate surrounded by expanses of stale brick. The Union Station is classy and actually is used as a train station (which isn't a total shocker in New England, but still).

Another little area, Shrewsbury Street, has some pretty cool places to hang out, eat, and drink. Urban Mechanic (and his peeps) frequent the Flying Rhino (left) most often when visiting town for meetings and such.

Of course there are still a good few drawbacks that keeps Urban Mechanic deeply rooted in Boston over Worcester. This includes things such as lacking real local transit, having a cute but not truly vibrant downtown, and way too much parking everywhere...though locals think otherwise; as they always do. Also, they don't have any major bodies of water to enjoy, which I suppose they can't quite fix too easily. It's still well worth visiting and poking around, and who knows, one day good Quinsigamond might just clue-in on the things that hold them back from being a bit more urbane if not urban itself.

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