PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In some ways, the beautifully restored playhouse and vaudeville theater in the center of Pittsfield is a perfect metaphor for the town itself. Fewer than 10 years ago, the theater was in disrepair. Now, it’s a very visible symbol of the course Pittsfield has charted in an effort to replace old industries that have left town by luring artists here in the hopes that a thriving arts scene would create new business.
To be sure, the city is still gritty. There’s still crime, unemployment and the economic woes that plague the country. But Pittsfield has taken the first steps toward reinventing itself since the General Electric plant the dominated the city’s economy packed up and left decades ago.
The city is striving to emerge from the long shadow cast by General Electric’s departure. But there’s one part of GE’s legacy that the town has been glad to hold on to.
As a throwback to the GE days, when workers would be paid on the third Thursday of the month, city leaders throw a monthly outdoor music and street festival in downtown Pittsfield.
As part of WBUR’s special series, Finding A Way Along Route 9, we attended the recent Third Thursday party in Pittsfield and brought back this audio slideshow.