The Canal District fascinates me.
A revitalization of an area that at one point had a canal running through it, providing transportation to local industry, connecting Providence to Worcester. Now, it’s one of the trendy areas for artists, restaurants, nightlife and modern urban chic living.
Ghosts of Worcester’s past simultaneous harken back to their power as industrial leaders while they mark the redevelopment of its future. Factories are given new life as offices and condominiums. A mix of the crumbling decay blend with luxury urban living. The city moves forward with plans of rebirth and revitalization of downtown, from the Streetscape project in the Canal District to the massive CitySquare mixed use development downtown that has re-opened Front Street, once blocked by the now demolished Worcester Common Outlets, connecting City Hall on Main Street to Union Station at the intersection of Foster Street.
Yet some reminders of the city’s past pop up if you look. The picture above looks like it was taken, perhaps in the seedier side of town. If you zoomed out, you’d see the rails are at the breathtaking Union Station stop (to be photographed on another day) and that if the right side of the Heywood Shoe Company was not cropped out, you’d see some of the most sought after loft condominiums on Harding street in the good ol’ Woo. Though the Heywood Shoe advertisement survived and the company did not, it’s comforting to see the juxtaposition of where Worcester’s been next to where Worcester is going.
Perhaps that’s what I love so much about this city. In good New England spirit, it doesn’t put on airs, and pretend to be something better than it is. Worcester embraces it’s blue collar roots and accentuates them with flair and sass. Holden Caulfield would approve.
Heywood Shoe and Boot Company started in 1879 by Samuel R. Heywood. Shoe manufacturing was one of Worcester’s major 19th century industries. The company focused its efforts solely (I just couldn’t resist that pun!) on shoe making by 1899, turning out 1,000 pairs a day. The “Heywood Shoe” became popular all over the United States, known for its quality
The “Heywood Shoe,” known
for its excellent quality, was sold throughout the United States and abroad. The company stopped manufacturing in 1941 and operated as a shoe outlet until 1961. Like many of the former factories in the Canal District, the building was renovated and is now The Blackstone Lofts.