About the Gateway Cities
Gateway Cities are midsize urban centers that anchor regional economies around the state. For generations, these communities were home to industry that offered residents good jobs and a “gateway” to the American Dream. Over the past several decades, manufacturing jobs slowly disappeared. Lacking resources and capacity to rebuild and reposition, Gateway Cities have been slow to draw new economy investment.
While Gateway Cities face stubborn social and economic challenges as a result, they retain many assets with unrealized potential. These include existing infrastructure and strong connections to transportation networks, museums, hospitals, universities and other major institutions, disproportionately young and underutilized workers, and perhaps above all, authentic urban fabric.
Changing social and economic forces open up new opportunities for Gateway Cities to leverage these untapped assets. Demand for walkable neighborhoods is rising and the small entrepreneurial businesses that fuel job creation in today’s economy are increasingly seeking out urban innovative environments. These trends position Gateway Cities to once again serve as engines driving growth in regional economies across the Commonwealth.
The Legislature defines 26 Gateway Cities in the Commonwealth, which are Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester.
Located 20 miles south of Boston, Brockton was once the nation’s largest shoe producer. Now known as the City of Champions, after native boxers Rocky Marciano and “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Brockton has been recognized recently for outstanding results in urban education.
On the south coast 15 miles from Providence, Fall River has deep roots in textiles, an industry in which it was once a leading center. More than half the city’s population traces their ancestry back to the Azorean islands of Portugal. Along with many other immigrants groups, Fall River’s Lusophones give the city rich cultural traditions.
In north central Mass., not far from the New Hampshire border, Fitchburg sits in the heart of the Wachusett Valley. The Fitchburg rail line once linked Boston to Albany with trains running through the Hoosac Tunnel. A former paper and GE manufacturing center, the city is home to Fitchburg State University and a rejuvenated mixed-use downtown.
On the banks of the Merrimac River in northeastern Massachusetts, Haverhill has been a leader in industries ranging from shipbuilding to shoemaking. The city’s connections to modern transportation infrastructure, including MBTA and Amtrak rail and I-495, have led to the emergence of new industries and a rejuvenated mixed-use downtown.
Strategically situated in Western Massachusetts beneath a large drop in the Connecticut river, Holyoke was one of the nation’s first planned industrial cities. The city’s canals powered paper mills. In the future, Holyoke’s tremendous water power will provide energy for a worldclass supercomputing center.
A historic industrial city 30 miles north of Boston. In the mid-19th century, the world’s largest dam and mill complex made Lawrence a leading producer of textiles. Today the city is home to vibrant Dominican and Puerto Rican communities, and many small entrepreneurial businesses remaking the city’s economy.
Located 30 miles northwest of Boston, Lowell was founded in the 1820s as a planned manufacturing center for textiles. Today the industrial legacy is showcased in the Lowell National Historical Park. The city is also home to UMass Lowell and many new immigrants, including the nation’s second largest Cambodian community.
During the 19th century, “The Whaling City” was once one of the world’s largest whaling ports as famoulsy portrayed in Moby Dick. Today New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park is all that remains of that industry, but the city is still home to one of the nation’s largest commercial fishing fleets and a lively arts scene.
In the heart of the Berkshires, the first intercollegiate baseball game was played in Pittsfield. Wahconah Park is one of the oldest baseball stadiums in the US. Pittsfield’s economy grew along with GE’s plastics division. Today growth in creative industries throughout the Berkshires is helping to drive the Pittsfield economy.
The biggest city in Western Mass and the fourth largest in New England, Springfield is known as the “City of Firsts”. Many innovations emerged from the city during the industrial revolution, earning the city a reputation as the Silicon Valley of its day. It is also the birthplace of basketball and home to the National Basketball Hall of Fame.
Located 40 miles west of Boston, Worcester is New England’s second largest city, home to 10 colleges and universities, including UMass Medical. Worcester’s relatively affordable housing, its MBTA and Amtrak connections, and its close proximity to Greater Boston’s Metrowest are driving new growth and development in the city.