Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Horse Drawn Carriage Through History

One thing that Worcester is full of is abandoned, crumbling buildings. Ever the city that just won't quit, there is a campaign called "Free the Blackstone," which is all about bringing awareness and business to the part of town with the condemned buildings.  Why? Because they are part of the canal district. The canal that was once the hub of industrialization in New England and allowed products to be sent down to Rhode Island and shipped out (thereby taking business away from Boston and keeping Worcester the bigger city).

Once Boston wised up and built railroad tracks from their little shipping port to the Big City, the people of Worcester started using the canal as an open sewer, into which they would dump industrial waste, human waste, food scraps, butcher scraps, and dead animals. Eventually the canal grew so smelly and toxic that they just covered it up. So the canal disappeared, but the factories that sprang up alongside it remain.

Several of the buildings have a sign on them that is a red square with a white line or x across it. That is to signify to firefighters that the building is condemned and is unsafe for anyone to enter. They had to do that after a fire broke out some time ago and when firefighters went in to put out the flames, the building collapsed on them and they died.

Some of the buildings are being fixed up and turned into residences. Some of them house restaurants and other businesses. Some of them are still factories.

We learned all this on a horse drawn carriage ride through the canal district, complete with college "actors" performing vignettes of business people who were once influential in the district.

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