News & Media Coverage

Why Brockton is a Good Place to Live

December 9, 2013  |  The Enterprise  |  Link to article

By Milton Strumpf

Special to the Enterprise

Over the years that I have lived in Brockton, 42 of them now, I have always heard from people how terrible a place Brockton is.

We have a reputation for violence and crime that is, in my opinion, undeserved. Brockton is a city. I don’t think most people understand that. I think they look at us and think we are a town or a village and shouldn’t have city issues. According to Wikipedia’s listing of cities and towns in Massachusetts, we are the 7th largest.

We are also halfway between Providence and Boston, two major cities. When those cities crack down on crime, the criminals will gravitate toward the next biggest location. Unfortunately that is us.

In the last few months we have had an increase in violence, but I would hasten to point out, Brockton is by no means unique in that. The number of mass shootings that have happened have played no favorites. In fact, while Brockton has had more than its share of murders, we’ve thus far avoided the mass shooting effect.

With all of that said, Jacob Tagger, a man who recently ran for City Counsel and has been working tirelessly to improve this city, issued something of a challenge. Every time someone says something bad about Brockton, tell them 10 good things. I have written this in an attempt to enumerate those good things and bring to light some of why I love where I grew up and still live.

1. Brockton High School (This has several sub-points to it):

a. BHS is one of the largest high schools in the country. BHS would rank, with about an average of 4,500 students (It fluctuates between 4,000 and 5,000) BHS would rank 255th out of 352 municipalities in Massachusetts. Think about that, it’s bigger than 97 towns.

b. It boasts an excellent graduation rate.

c. The high school musical is on a par with many Broadway productions.

d. BHS athletics are some of the best in the country, especially in football, boasting several NFL players over the years.

e. The BHS Planetarium.

2. BIC – The Brockton Interfaith Community. While many areas contend with strife between those of different faiths, Brockton has forged a community spirit that allows those of differing faiths to come together and learn from and about each other.

3. The Fuller Craft Museum. Many may not know this, but the museum is listed in the AAA guidebooks.

4. The Brockton Fair

5. The city hospitals

6. History

a. On Oct. 1, 1883, Brockton became the first place in the world to have a three-wire underground electrical system when Thomas Edison threw a switch to activate it.

b. The City Theater opened on Oct. 24, 1894, the first theater in the world to be tied into the three wire electrical system.

c. On Dec. 30, 1884, the first electrically operated fire station in the United States opened in Brockton.

d. The department store Santa Claus appeared in Brockton in December 1890, when James Edgar, of Edgar’s Department Store, suited up for the first time.

e. Brockton became the first city in the country to abolish grade crossings in 1896.

f. Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler – Two boxing champions.

g. Westgate Mall is the oldest enclosed shopping mall in the state.

h. Brockton’s history as Shoe City, the manufacturing of shoes was a major focal point of Brockton’s past.

7. Massasoit Community College – The main campus is located here.

8. Brockton was named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People in the United States in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2011. This prestigious award is given out by America’s Promise Alliance in recognition of those communities that are taking action to reduce dropout rates and provide supportive services to youth. Despite the challenges it has had over the years, Brockton has made the success of its youth a high priority and was honored for its continued commitment to education, mentoring and volunteerism. Through the collaborative efforts of the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office, the Mayor’s Office, the Superintendent and Police Department, along with area nonprofits and parents, the community has flourished with a host of resources for its young people.

9. The Brockton Rox

10. Brockton Symphony Orchestra

11. The Brockton Cleanup Crew – Many may not know this, but over the last couple of months, several people from Brockton who met and organized through Facebook, have been going out to clean up the streets and schools around Brockton. Pulling weeds, trimming trees, picking up trash. On several occasions, the homeless on Brockton’s streets thanked us for what we were doing.

12. Brockton citizens. Make no mistake; we have the best people around. Examples below:

a. In August, there was a march through Brockton protesting the violence. Over 300 people came out and marched. Not only were the people marching inspiring, but while the police stopped traffic to allow us to walk unimpeded, the people in the cars honked and raised their hands in support of what we were doing.

b. At that same rally, people sang “Happy Birthday” to the first person who had been killed in the city. The day of the march WAS his birthday, and his mother was at the rally. I think it helped her to hear everyone sharing the day with her.

c. Also at that rally, it was revealed that one person needed money to deal with an issue. The hat was passed and over $500 raised, on the spot.

d. A few days later there was an event to help raise the remaining funds needed and it was incredibly well attended.

e. On Facebook, several groups have started up which are raising donations for those less fortunate to help them through the holidays. The generosity has been overwhelming.

13. The Commuter Rail

14. Proximity to Boston and Providence

15. The Brockton Public Library

16. Brockton Brightfield is one of the largest solar power plants in New England.

17. George’s and Cape Cod cafes

18. Christos

19. Westgate Lanes

20. Comprehensive Curbside trash pickup. With proper notifications, they will cart away just about anything.

21. Curbside recycling

22. Water and Sewer straight to the homes, no wells or septic systems required.

23. D.W. Field Park

24. Brockton’s Public Transportation System, the BAT, goes everywhere in Brockton and the Dial a Bat service helps many of the less mobile citizens to get where they need to go.

25. A very diverse community.

As you can see, there are a lot more than 10 good reasons to love this city. But let me conclude with something more personal. Why do I love this city? Simply, it’s where I grew up. It’s where I made friends and where I learned the things that made me who I am. Brockton is a city, as I stated at the outset, but it’s a city I remember being able to ride my bike across as a teenager. It’s a city that always felt smaller than it was. It’s a city of great diversity that shows how those diverse people can live together and be a community. It’s a place I call home, and that is worth working to preserve.