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Old Fart
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I went to Holyoke from Springfield Mass (back in oct '04), and the sky remained overcast. Kind of fits the pics. Holyoke is an old planned industrial community which has fallen on hard times. Kind of high crime rate, and quite a few abandoned buildings in and near the downtown area. I got a forlorn feeling while visiting the city, and I wasn't even there that long (about an hour). The current population is about 40,000.

Here's one of the first sights that greeted me when I got off the freeway:

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I didn't really show all the empty lots which were probably once covered with tenements.

Hope you enjoyed :)
 

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Man, I didn't know Holyoke was that bad, I'm sure one of the reasons their downtown was ruined was because of the giant mall they have in the outskirts...but I know little, never been there. It looks as though no new building has been built there for months...Is this is the poorest city in the state?

There's something that I have just noticed in Holyoke and Springfield...
Western Mass reminds me a lot like Greater Hartford except for it has more of a blue-collar, Rust Belt vibe than here in Hartford (not the city only).

Even though it seems as though Hartford has been going through some hard times, it seems as though our neighbor up north have had it worse.
 

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rotten777 said:
There's something that I have just noticed in Holyoke and Springfield...
Western Mass reminds me a lot like Greater Hartford except for it has more of a blue-collar, Rust Belt vibe than here in Hartford (not the city only).
Funny that you say that. I've always felt that western Mass (including much of Worcester, and maybe even Lowell) had a rust-belt sort of vibe, even though they're outside the classical definition of the term:

(from Wikipedia)
 

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I think Hartford's proximity to NYC has helped it in someways avoid a rustbelt effect.
Hartford(metro)'s economy might have been spared of this because people leaving industrial jobs could move a few towns towards the city, even commute from as close as Berlin or Meriden, and get a city job.

Springfield(metro) wasn't as lucky. They could move to Boston. Or Hartford.
 

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Call it gritty or whatever, Holyoke's actually a very interesting & urban place. Its an ex-milltown north of Springfield that specialized in making paper products from the logs which were floated down the Connecticut River. What's really unique about a city of its size, Holyoke built so many large brick multi-story apartment buildings & tenments. They make some parts of Holyoke look almost like the Bronx. Like many other New England milltowns, Holyoke went through decades of population & economic decline. During the 1970s, misguided urban renewal schemes led to the destruction of many apartments in Holyoke's lower wards. Building the Holyoke Mall on the outskirts didn't help the downtown. The aging Irish, French-Canadian, & Polish population was largely replaced by a youthful Puerto Rican population. While Holyoke hasn't enjoyed the big comebacks of many eastern Mass milltowns, it has stabilized & it's future seems brighter.
 

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Old Fart
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
^ Thanks for all the replies guys.
@ bayview, I did read where Holyoke was a planned industrial city, and all of the tenements did remind me of NYC in some ways. It was kind of shocking to see so many abandoned buildings and blocks of empty lots. Maybe immigration will save the city, but there does seem to be a long way to go.
 

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sargeantcm said:
Funny that you say that. I've always felt that western Mass (including much of Worcester, and maybe even Lowell) had a rust-belt sort of vibe, even though they're outside the classical definition of the term:

(from Wikipedia)
Lowell isn't really Western Mass., actually not even close. Most people in Mass concider Worcester and anything west of that Western Mass. Infact they have their own news bureau out there and here in the Boston area we don't see much...actually any news of what's going on out there.

I go to school in Lowell and I personally wouldn't concider it a rust belt city. It's becoming a tad like Austin, Texas in some respects with a new influx of younger people and artsy areas. I think it has a lot to do with a bunch of the older mills being transferred into really cheap condos (for the North East anyways) and they're really nice. There are a ton of new bars and restaurants that have opened and a decent amount of coffee shops. There seems to be a different vibe in the city over the past few years. There's still some elements that are run down and in pretty bad shape. But overall the city is booming.
 

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BostonSkyGuy said:
Lowell isn't really Western Mass., actually not even close. Most people in Mass concider Worcester and anything west of that Western Mass.
No, I agree. Personally I'd actually say I-91 is the diving line, but I'm not nor was I ever a Bay Stater. What I meant was Western Mass., as well as Worcester and perhaps Lowell.

Lowell does seem to be coming along. My girlfriend grew up there, and she always makes fun of it for it's drug problems (is that based in fact?). Anyways I always liked it as a sort of smaller-midsized gritty city, and it does seem to be coming along. Her grandmother (whom we visit twice a year) lives in the condos near that old mill on Mill St (technically in Dracut?) that they're converting into lofts, interesting to see how that evolves.

Also went to a UMass-Clarkson game at the Tsongas a year or so ago, that area could turn into a true entertainment district with a little investment. Nice mid-sized arena. Reminds me of the HSBC Arena/Cobblestone District in Buffalo.

But I still say I get a sort of "rust belt" vibe when I'm in those places. Maybe it's not the correct impression, maybe I equate "grit" and "rust belt" subconsciously, I dunno.
 

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A little more background regarding Holyoke & other New England milltowns. In lots of big cities, urban renewal became known as “Negro removal”. Holyoke as was the case for many of the declining New England milltowns never attracted many African Americans. So in Holyoke during the 1960s, the Irish-dominated political leaders tended to use urban renewal to displace the neighborhoods of the upstart Franco-Canadians. So that’s when the destruction of the housing began. And in the 1970s & ‘80s, housing destruction was used as means of trying to discourage Puerto Ricans, who came up to pick shade tobacco in the Connecticut Valley, staying to work in the remaining mills, from moving in. Obviously that didn’t work! While Puerto Ricans (US Citizens since 1917, not immigrants) comprise about 40% of Holyoke, there are relatively few Latino immigrants. I think that’s one of reasons why many of the western MA cities (Springfield as well as Holyoke) have lagged behind those in eastern MA. Still, the western MA cities are doing better than most of those in upstate NY. Ithaca excepted!

There’s been much more demographic & economic revival in eastern MA milltowns. Lowell, which went thru a similar experience with ethnically-motivated urban renewal in the 1960s, has a significant Puerto Rican population, & growing numbers of Latino immigrants. Also, the largest Cambodian population west of California. The Latino & Asian influx has helped to offset the decline. Lawrence, which never underwent large-urban renewal & so kept its housing base largely intact, has undergone the most dramatic transformation of any New England city. Several decades ago, Lawrence was a dying milltown, virtually all white. During the 1960s & ‘70s it started attracting Puerto Ricans. And in recent decades it’s attracted the largest Dominican population outside of NYC. Lawrence is about two-thirds Latino. The Dominicans & other Latinos have opened hundreds of new bodegas & other small businesses in Lawrence, helping to bring the city back to life. A few decades ago, there were tons of vacant & abandoned housing & empty storefronts in Lawrence. Not that these places don’t suffer from problems. I think in Lawrence one of the biggest problems is there just isn’t space in the public schools to accommodate the rising enrollment. Now from what I gather, it’s rather tough to find cheap housing in Lowell or even Lawrence. These places have become quite attractive as more affordable alternatives to Boston.

Generally, when Puerto Ricans, Latino immigrants & other immigrants first came to these New England milltowns, they were widely perceived as problems. Now generally, the local political & business leaders realize that the newcomers have been in fact a catalyst for demographic & economic revival.
 

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BuffCity said:
looks to me like Mass. keeps all the money in Boston, keeping that city looking great while the rest of the state looks like SHIT...typical liberals.
Interestingly eough; Boston is losing population FAST, while Holyoke is gaining:

http://www.city-data.com/city/Boston-Massachusetts.html


http://www.city-data.com/city/Holyoke-Massachusetts.html

Boston is losing population faster than both Buffalo and Rochester. And Suffolk County (where boston is located) lost more population than both Erie and Monroe counties COMBINED in both percentage and raw numbers EVEN THOUHGH IT IS SMALLER IN POPULATION THAN BOTH OF THEM.

http://epodunk.com/cgi-bin/genInfo.php?locIndex=22296

I don't think I ever want to here a Bostonian or any masshole talking trash about WNY if they are losing population in droves way faster than anywhere in upstate ny.
 

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^Coincedentally, I was just looking at the US Census a few minutes ago and saw that Boston decreased the fastest of any city over 100,000 from 2003 to 2004, around 1.5%.
 

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Did you know that one in ten American's believes that's true? That's a very scary statistic.
 

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I was just going to say...

They also usually don't know that if you superimposed it on the lower 48, the landmass and the Aleutian chain would essentially stretch across the entire thing.

I wonder then, what they think those thin straight lines separating Hawaii from Alaska from Mexico are, and if they're visible from space.

ROCguy said:
I don't think I ever want to here a Bostonian or any masshole talking trash about WNY if they are losing population in droves way faster than anywhere in upstate ny.
Yeah, they're all moving to New Hampshire.

I'm sure the metro is growing overall though. Boston's probably just still in the stages of suburbanization, I know there is the impression of alot of money in the area (whether or not it's really much greater than anywhere else), which logically will fuel a sub/ex-urban exodus.

Look at Boston's metro on a map, it's friggin' ginormous. If you consider I-495 to be an outer loop, and really it is, place that around Buffalo and it would be about as far out as Batavia. Around NYC, it would be near the northern edges of Putnam & Westchester Ctys, which is most of their suburbs in that direction. And that's not even the "limit of sprawl" anymore.

I haven't seen any numbers, but I would bet Boston would rank near the top on a ratio of metro/suburban area to city population.
 

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sargeantcm said:
No, I agree. Personally I'd actually say I-91 is the diving line, but I'm not nor was I ever a Bay Stater. What I meant was Western Mass., as well as Worcester and perhaps Lowell.

Lowell does seem to be coming along. My girlfriend grew up there, and she always makes fun of it for it's drug problems (is that based in fact?).
I get you, I thought you were including Lowell with Western Mass. which has rarely if ever been done, my fault. I get what you meant though.

Like a lot of cities Lowell does have it's share of gangs and drug problems. I don't think it's any worse than Lawrence or Springfield though--infact I'd say it's probably in better shape with regards to drugs. I could be wrong though, just if I had to guess.

Also went to a UMass-Clarkson game at the Tsongas a year or so ago, that area could turn into a true entertainment district with a little investment. Nice mid-sized arena. Reminds me of the HSBC Arena/Cobblestone District in Buffalo.
Actually there's been a lot of Entertainment acts in the last few years. There's a lot of rap artists especially Ja Rule was there a few times as well as 50-Cent/G-Unit (If I remember right), T.I., and some other well known acts. I'm not trying to start a what music is good post/thread just showing you that the Tsongas has drawn some decent names. There's a ton of Country Acts too as well as stuff for the kids. Even weird events like the World Curling Championships were here about a month ago, so it does get it's share of stuff.

But I still say I get a sort of "rust belt" vibe when I'm in those places. Maybe it's not the correct impression, maybe I equate "grit" and "rust belt" subconsciously, I dunno.
No, I understand what you mean. I think though Lowell is more "grit" as a lot of the buildings aren't from the earlier half of the century but built in the 60's-70's and are just run down. By redoing the mills they've really added some districts I'd never thought I'd see in Lowell. They've done a good job.
 

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ROCguy said:
Interestingly eough; Boston is losing population FAST, while Holyoke is gaining:

http://www.city-data.com/city/Boston-Massachusetts.html


http://www.city-data.com/city/Holyoke-Massachusetts.html

Boston is losing population faster than both Buffalo and Rochester. And Suffolk County (where boston is located) lost more population than both Erie and Monroe counties COMBINED in both percentage and raw numbers EVEN THOUHGH IT IS SMALLER IN POPULATION THAN BOTH OF THEM.

http://epodunk.com/cgi-bin/genInfo.php?locIndex=22296

I don't think I ever want to here a Bostonian or any masshole talking trash about WNY if they are losing population in droves way faster than anywhere in upstate ny.
I think while the city of Boston itself is losing population the metro and more specifically surrounding suburbs are gaining for a few reasons.

1- Boston has becoming increasingly expensive. Not unlike other cities but there seems to be a condo movement that's getting (has gotten) out of hand. Apartment buildings/Tenaments are being knocked down all over the place in order to build these hideous condos. So you're losing thousands of people in those apartments in order to build condos that only hundreds live in.

2- The Public Transportation in and around Boston is pretty damn good campared to other cities. I'm out in Lowell for School and can hop on a train that takes me right into North Station. It takes me like 10 minutes to get there for not a ton of money (It takes me 30-40 to drive, depending on traffic). There's a lot of people who live in the 'burbs and go to work this way. It's not hard to get from North Station (where the commuter rail goes) to Financial District/Downtown.

3- It's a LOT cheaper in areas of New Hampshire and Western Mass. You can buy a big house for say 250-300k and commute into the city with your car. It's a pain in the ass to drive here but an increasing number of people would rather live in a house with a yard over having an apartment and a 5-10 minute commute. I really think we're going to see most cities losing population because the country seems to have this idea that the suburbs are best and our dependency on cars shows this.
 

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BuffCity said:
looks to me like Mass. keeps all the money in Boston, keeping that city looking great while the rest of the state looks like SHIT...typical liberals.
Typical conservative blowhard. Hey, just because the GOP is 6 months away from losing the Senate and House thanks to the most unpopular president since Nixon at the height of Watergate doesn't mean you should vent frustration by making asinine, ignorant statements on an internet forum.

Riiiiight . . . Cambridge, Brookline, Newton, Cape Cod, Norfolk County, Middlesex County - two of the wealthiest counties in the country with nearly 2 million people - all "SHIT".

There are about 6 municipalities (out of over 300) in Mass that could be called gritty and poor, and Ex-Ith just so happened to show pics of half of them (Lawrence, Brockton, Holyoke . . . I would throw in Chelsea, Everett and Chicopee to round out the offenders). Mass has the country's third highest per capita personal income, the country's third highest GDP per capita and is near dead last place in every crime category counted for.

Don’t hate on the state because it is progressive enough to not discriminate against people in terms of marriage or because soon every Mass citizen will have universal healthcare . . . you know, typical liberal stuff.
 

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sargeantcm said:
I haven't seen any numbers, but I would bet Boston would rank near the top on a ratio of metro/suburban area to city population.
Ive read in numerous places that this is actually Hartford Connecticut.

City- 125,000
Metro- 1.25 million
 
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