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Southbridge #69: Central MA’s Best Communities

Monday, June 25, 2012



Southbridge ranks 69th in Central Mass

A culturally diverse town, Southbridge has seen a variety of different ethnic groups move to town, including Laos, Vietnam and Puerto Rico.  The town has newly renovated schools, including a brand new high school that will open in the fall. It is also home to hiking trails, an art center and four parks.  The town also has its own airport, which is privately managed.  

Southbridge’s rankings were split, placing in the top 20 in three categories (affordability, arts and culture, and restaurants), but near the bottom in three others (economic condition, safety and education). In education, Southbridge scored lowest of all Central Mass.

The Congregational Church is on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo courtesy of John Phelan

Southbridge by the numbers

Established: 1816
Population: 16,719
Median household income: $47,234
Median housing price: $96,750

2012 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 69
Affordability ranking: 13
Education ranking: 72
Economic condition ranking: 63
Safety ranking: 64
Arts & Culture ranking: 16

History in a nutshell:

Southbridge developed as an industrial city, often called the "Eye of the Commonwealth," for its manufacturing of optical products. The town's industry developed first with saw and gristmills in the 18th century and then with textiles in the 19th century. In 1869, the American Optical Company was incorporated in Southbridge, employing more than 6,000 at its peak.

Famous residents:  

Jeff Belander, Author and speaker
William Tremblay, Poet, novelist, professor
Kenny Dykstra, Professional wrester
William Joel Gregorio, Member of the Charlie Daniels Band

Famous residents source: Wikipedia 
Additional reporting by Grace Fenton


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