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Waterbury Is Definitely NOT One of the ’50 Worst American Cities to Live In’

Photo by Large Dave
Photo by Large Dave

I’ve seen all sorts of posts proclaiming that my hometown is one of the top 50 worst American cities to live in over the past week — Yawn.

People have been hating on Waterbury forever. I see the look on their faces when I answer, “Waterbury” when they ask where I live.

“Oh, the Dirty Water, huh?” Yeah, we have a river that used to be a little polluted, it’s clean now.

“Oh, is that where the big clock tower is?” Yeah, it’s big, and it’s in my city.

According to the journalists at 24/7 Wall St., Waterbury is the 36th worst city in America to plant your roots. We’re just slightly worse than Atlanta, and slightly better than Lansing, Michigan.

As I scanned through the entire list, I noticed that they put Hartford in the top 10 of the worst, at #8.

Photo by Large Dave
Photo by Large Dave

I worked in Hartford for many years. This is the only time that I will agree with 24/7 Wall St. I’d much rather live where I live compared to Hartford.

24/7 Wall St. explains their methods to these ranks in the usual fashion. They took into account crime rates, quality of schools, level of education attained by the residents, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. These are people writing about faraway places from the comfort of a Starbucks with free wifi.

I’ve lived in Waterbury since 1969. I know those streets and a small slice of the population. I know that I’d rather patronize Town Plot IGA than a generic Stop & Shop. I’d rather get delicious cupcakes and baked goods from Hardcore Sweet, Sweet Maria’s, and Brooklyn Bakery than Hostess. I’d rather get my local news from the Waterbury Observer and the Rep-Am than CNN or Fox News.

I belong to a group called “You know you’re from Waterbury when…” on Facebook. Every day, there are positive and negative comments and stories about my hometown. The city just recently completed a $2,000,000 renovation on the green in downtown. Someone posted a photo of the beautiful new landscaping and the construction fence being taken down. The first 5 comments, and, actually, the majority of them, were negative — “drug dealers!” “Waste of taxpayers money!” etc, etc, etc.

It’s all in your perception. If you look at something in a negative eye, yeah, it sucks. But if you take it at face value, truly see what they were trying to say or accomplish, it’s a good thing. I say the same thing about Waterbury.

Am I sick of the trash on my street? Yeah, but I leave it there instead of throwing it out. Shame on me. Do I hate the high tax rate that we’re charged? Oh, hell yes, but I’d rather live in Town Plot than anywhere else on this planet. Why? Because this is my home. This place made me the person that I am today. I’m comfortable here.

Mrs. Large and I recently took a road trip to Cleveland and marveled at the cleanliness of their streets, and the abundance of parks and culture. If we want that here? It’s 5 to 120 minutes away. If not in Waterbury, then New Haven, or Manhattan, or Boston, or even Naugatuck.

I know that these lists of the best and worst places to live come out basically every week from numerous sources. Don’t pay attention to them. They don’t know the joy of seeing your grandfather’s friend’s faces light up as you walk into the Mt. Carmel Feast. They don’t get to shake Tony D’Amelio’s hand as they walk into Kennedy to vote. They don’t get the delicious satisfaction of fried mushrooms and Frankie’s hot dogs on a Summer day. We do. Eat it, 24/7 Wall St.

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