Canal District Case Study

1647 Words 7 Pages
The Canal district in Worcester, Massachusetts is most accurately described as emerging. Despite its name, Worcester covered the Blackstone Canal in the late eighteen hundreds according to the Preservation Worcester website (Preservation Worcester). The lacking presence of the physical canal provides a decent metaphor for the status of the neighborhood, an area of the city that is lacking in terms of what it wishes it could be. Lynch argues that legibility of a city is vital to their understanding and connection to the place (Lynch 1960:). The absence of the landmark, the canal, constructs the area as illegible for many people, including myself. However, the presence of clear nodes, such as the underpass in the northwestern corner and highway …show more content…
There is a clear zone of the Canal district that reminds me the affluent, calm, commercial side of Chestnut Hill discussed by Anderson, where people shop and socialize freely without a care (Anderson 1999:16). The edges of this area are informal but stark as the type of businesses and the clientele changes dramatically when on either side of this border. The borders of this zone are illustrated in Figure 1. I view this area outlined in red in Figure 1 as the economic center of the Canal district with the other streets and businesses occupying the spaces bordering the formal edges of the district. The businesses, the Farmers Market, small coffee shops, sports bars, of the informal center zone accurately represent the aim of the neighborhood 's revitalization. These business are only present within this area, expect for one or two exceptions. In my opinion the outlier establishments, represented as the red squares on Figure 1, signify the districts desire to expand outside the zone and convert the entire neighborhood into a center for middle class consumerism. One of the only differences between these businesses and look and feel of the others is their physical location. The second difference is the presence of negative signs on these fancier establishments. The Union Tavern, a bar that sits furthest outside this …show more content…
While observing the Canal district I witnessed both forms of patrolling. Jacobs states safety "is kept primarily by an intricate almost unconscious network of voluntary controls..." (Jacobs 32) usually upheld by people from the community. We were the subjects of the public scrutiny by people from the neighborhood, especially when one of us was actively taking notes. No one ever never stopped or questioned us, but we were understood as and felt like outsiders, illustrating how the power of unconscious monitoring. I think actively taking notes was helpful for my writing process but it negatively influenced my view of the Canal District as well as the community’s view of me. In contrast to this form of constant yet passive patrolling, we witnessed an extremely active moment of formal policing. When observing on a Tuesday around five-thirty in the afternoon, we watched a Worcester Police cruiser turn illegally on a side street, wait in the shadows and then immediately go after a car due to a rolling stop. This occurred on one of the streets I would consider an outer edge of the district reinforcing Jacobs ' idea that more formal policing must take over in areas, such as edges, where people are not as actively engaged with their environment (Jacobs

Related Documents