Last weekend the Latin American Festival returned to Worcester Common for its 31st annual run. The event is a bookend of sorts, as Worcester started the summer by hosting the largest and oldest Albanian Festival in America. These revelries are by no means unique to New England’s second-largest city. Summer in the Gateway Cities stands out for its full blossom of ethnic events, music festivals, and other distinct celebrations of community life.

From Brockton’s Cape Verdean Day and New Bedford’s Feast of the Blessed Sacrament to Holyoke’s Fiestas Patronales, Gateway Cities welcome thousands of visitors into their communities each year for a taste of the many cultures that make them special.

Gateway Cities also draw visitors in with live music. Lowell is known to all for hosting the country’s longest-running free folk festival. Marking its 10th anniversary this year, Springfield’s three-day Jazz and Roots Festival has also become a major attraction.

Numerous summer events like the Lynn Arts and Culture Festival showcase Gateway Cities as creative centers in their regions. From Lawrence to Pittsfield, weekly outdoor marketplaces serve both residents and visitors. Gateway Cities also bring people out for recreation. Try Wednesday night casual cycling along the gorgeous new Twin Cities Rail Trail in Fitchburg.

Too often our tendency has been to think about these happenings in economic development terms. Quantifying the purchasing power of visitors or describing the impact of creative placemaking through a quality-of-life lens, as cities attempt to compete for skilled workers.

While these things matter (and arguably even more so in a post-pandemic world where people have more residential choice and more options to spend disposable income online with ease), this summer we view the ongoings in Gateway Cities through the lens of our recent research on social infrastructure. With growing stress and division in society, Gateway Cities have an indispensable role to play bridging divides and bringing us together.


Return of the Links!

Prior to 2020, this journal contained links to newsworthy items in Gateway Cities across the state. Collecting this information was time-consuming and we decided to pare back to focus on research. But we lost an important connection to readers and their communities. The links will return to the journal in September. We encourage readers to reach out. Send us news from your cities and we’ll be sure to include these entries.

The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute strengthens connections across communities and helps Gateway City leaders advance a shared policy agenda. Click here to sign up for the biweekly Gateway Cities Journal to receive updates on current policy issues impacting Gateway Cities across the state.

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