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Barber's Crossing, Worcester.

Robert Barber, or Barbour, was among those settlers who became known as Scotch-Irish (a name no one but the other English settlers liked) and settled in this section of north Worcester. He gave his surname to a brook (Barber Brook), a street (Barber Avenue) and later to this intersection -- Barber's Crossing.

It was dangerous frontier for the settlers in the early 1700s, when they were still likely to be attacked by local Native American tribes.

More than 200 years later, it had become dangerous in a different way -- pedestrians, automobiles and trains fought for the same space on very busy roads. By the 20th century, that busyness had made the intersection so dangerous that several ideas for controlling traffic were floated, including creating a pedestrian-only way to keep pedestrians out of the road and off of the railroad tracks.

The two abandoned shacks in this modern picture were the beginning and end of the pedestrian tunnel.

Finally, a better idea occurred to planners, which was to separate the passenger and automobile way from the railroad. West Boylston Street was rerouted to run parallel to the tracks, instead of across it.

Robert Barber's homestead was long gone, of course, by the time the traffic problems began. The neighborhood where he and his family settled became a mix of residential, retail and commercial enterprises, with another business begun by immigrants (Norton Co.) largely responsible for the prosperity here.

Barber's family name is carried on by the restaurants, Barber's Crossing, with several locations in Central Massachusetts.

-- Melissa McKeon

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Title Annotation:Local
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 24, 2014
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