Sina-cism: Of Worcester and Brattleboro, a tale of downtown destiny

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If you drive a couple of hours northwest of Worcester and cross into the People’s Republic of Vermont, the first big town you run into is Worcester.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

OK, not literally. The actual name of the place is Brattleboro, and it’s much smaller than the Heart of the Commonwealth. But in many respects, it’s the same.

Both communities date to Colonial times. The Massachusetts General Court voted in 1723 to establish a fort on the site of what is now Brattleboro so as to defend Massachusetts Bay Colony against the Abenaki warrior Gray Lock. Back then, Vermont did not exist, but was claimed by New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts.

Both Brattleboro and Worcester have many hills (theirs higher and more numerous), several colleges (ours more prestigious), and an industrial history that – founded on waterpower, mills and railroads – is today dependent upon education, health care, and a mix of professional and business services.

Worcester calls itself a Gateway City, a tribute to its immigrant influxes, while Brattleboro calls itself the Gateway to Vermont.

Both communities have an undercurrent of counterculturalism.


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