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Worcester MA

Worcester (pronounced /ˈwʊstər/) is a city in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Named after Worcester, England, the city had a population of 182,596, making it the estimated second or third largest city in New England.[1]a[›] It is the county seat of Worcester County.[2] Worcester is located approximately 40 miles west of Boston, and marks the western periphery of the Boston-Worcester-Manchester (MA-RI-NH) U.S. Census Combined Statistical Area (CSA). Due to its location in Central Massachusetts, Worcester is often referred to as the "Heart of the Commonwealth." The city is also noted for its mill era Victorian architecture.

History of Worcester MA


Bird’s-eye view, c. 1905

The Pakachoag tribe of the Nipmuc nation of Native Americans were the indigenous settlers of the area. They called it Quinsigamond, meaning "fishing place for pickerel." Lake Quinsigamond provided fine hunting and fishing grounds a short distance from their main village near a spring on Pakachoag Hill in what is now Auburn.[3] Mt. Wachusett was their sacred place.[4]

Worcester was first settled by the English in 1673,[5] but the modest settlement of six or seven houses was burned to the ground during King Philip’s War on December 2, 1675, when settlers were either killed or driven off. The town was subsequently resettled and was incorporated in 1684. On September 10 of that year, Daniel Gookin and others petitioned to have the town’s name officially changed from Quinsigamond to Worcester.[6] However, its inhabitants were still vulnerable to attack, and some, such as Samuel Lenorson Jr., were taken hostage by natives during the 1690s. When Queen Anne’s War started in 1702, the town was again abandoned by its English inhabitants except for Diggory Sargent. Sargent was later tomahawked, as was his wife, who was too weak to make the journey on foot to Canada. Their children were taken to Canada and survived.[7]

In 1713, Worcester was resettled for the third time, permanently, by Jonas Rice (1673-1753), a descendant of Edmund Rice of Sudbury. Jonas Rice held many offices and was elected to represent Worcester in the General Court of Massachusetts but died before he could serve. His farm was located atop Union Hill and a commemorative Massachusetts Tercentenary historic marker stands as a reminder where Plantation St. and Massasoit Rd. intersect.

Named after the historic city of Worcester, England, Worcester [= War + cester camp] was incorporated as a town in 1722 and chartered as a city in 1848.[8] When the government of Worcester County was established on April 2, 1731, Worcester was chosen as shire town (later known as a county seat). From that date until the dissolution of the county government on July 1, 1998, it was the only county seat.

Revolutionary Period

Worcester Common in 1907, established in 1669

As political tensions rose in the months before the Revolution, Worcester served as a center of revolutionary activity. Because it was an important munitions depot, Worcester was targeted for attack by Loyalist general Thomas Gage. However, officers sent secretly to inspect the munitions depot were discovered by Patriot Timothy Bigelow. General Gage then decided to move on to the second munitions depot in Lexington. In 1775, determining that Boston was too dangerous, Isaiah Thomas moved his newspaper, the Massachusetts Spy, to Worcester. The Massachusetts Spy was one of the few papers published continuously during the Revolution. On July 14, 1776, Isaiah Thomas, intercepting the packet from Philadelphia to Boston, performed the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence ever in front of Worcester City Hall. In 1812, Thomas founded the American Antiquarian Society, a research library holding nearly two thirds of the items known to have been printed in America from 1639 through 1820. The Society’s holdings from 1821 to 1876 compare favorably with those of the Library of Congress and other major research libraries.

Industrial Revolution

American Steel & Wire Company, c. 1905, employer of about 5,000

Known for innovation in commerce, industry, education, and social thought, Worcester and the nearby Blackstone Valley claim their historic role as birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Ichabod Washburn, an early industrialist, developed a process for extruding steel wire. His company, Washburn & Moen, founded in 1831, was "the company that ‘barbed-wire fenced the American West,’"[9] and held the battle lines during World War I. In 1840, Loring Coes invented the monkey wrench. In the 1850s, George Crompton and L.J. & F.B. Knowles founded companies that manufactured textile looms which drove the Industrial Revolution. Another Worcester innovator, physician Russel Howes, invented the first envelope folding machine in 1856. It could produce 25,000 envelopes in ten hours, using three operators.

Women found economic opportunity in Worcester. An early female entrepreneur, Esther Howland, designed and manufactured the first American valentine cards in 1847. Women also found opportunity in The Royal Worcester Corset Factory, a company that provided employment opportunity for 1200 women; it was the largest employer of women in the United States in 1908.[10]

Young factory worker, 1912, photograph by Lewis Hine

Several entrepreneurs brought growth to Worcester’s economy during this period. John Jeppson, a skilled potter, emigrated from Hoganas, Sweden to Worcester in search of a better life. In Worcester he founded Norton Company, now Saint-Gobain, the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of performance engineered abrasives for technical manufacturing and commercial applications, in addition to general household and automotive refinishing. Jeppson created economic opportunity for the thousands of his countrymen who followed him to Worcester, and for others, too. Many Irish immigrants settled in Worcester during this period, as well. They helped build the railroad and Blackstone Canal, further driving Worcester’s economic engine.

An innovative form of affordable housing appeared in the 19th century: the three-decker. Hundreds of these houses were built, affording capacious, comfortable apartments for a homeowner and two tenants. Many extended families settled in these houses, developing safe, stable neighborhoods for city factory workers.

20th century Wyman Gordon manufactured … David Clark manufactured space suits for almost all NASA space explorations.

Late 20th and early 21st century

In December 1999, the Worcester Cold Storage Fire received national attention. Two homeless people, deemed mentally disabled, accidentally knocked over a lit candle in an abandoned cold storage warehouse, igniting a conflagration. Six firefighters lost their lives in an attempt to rescue the homeless people. Less than two years before the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, this fire was one of the worst firefighting tragedies of the late 20th-century. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and other local and national dignitaries attended services and a memorial program.

The first decade of the 21st century saw the closing and creation of major cultural instutions in the city. In April 2006, the Worcester Common Outlets, a 1,000,000 square foot mall that occupies a large swath of downtown Worcester was planned to be demolished as to make way for the long-planned "City Square," a multi-use collaboration of several downtown buildings for commercial, retail, and residential use. The Worcester Foothills Theatre, formerly located in the Outlets, "suspended operations"[11] on May 10, 2009 due to lack of funding.[12] It is unclear if it will ever reopen. Also, a year earlier, in March 2008,[13] the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts opened as a venue for touring broadway style shows.

Some Notable Residents

Today, Worcester is emerging as an attractive alternative to the rest of Greater Boston due to its more affordable home prices and its relatively close commuting distance to Boston and the communities of Metrowest.


"Worcester" is correctly pronounced with two syllables, not three (IPA: [/ˈwʊstər/]listen).


Worcester is located at 42°16′8″N 71°48′14″W / 42.26889°N 71.80389°W / 42.26889; -71.80389 (42.268843, -71.803774).[14]

Worcester and surrounding area, looking north at 3700 feet (1128 m)

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 38.6 square miles (99.9 km²), of which, 37.6 square miles (97.3 km²) of it is land and 1.0 square miles (2.6 km²) of it (2.59%) is water. Worcester is bordered by the towns of Auburn, Grafton, Holden, Leicester, Millbury, Paxton, Shrewsbury, and West Boylston. These towns serve as some of the bedroom communities and suburbs of the greater Worcester area.

The Blackstone River passes through Worcester. Its headwaters are found in Institute Park. The river courses underground through the center of the city, and emerges at the foot of College Hill, flowing through Quinsigamond Village and into Millbury. Water Street, originally the Blackstone Canal, is emerging as the center of the "Canal District." Legend has it that the city sits atop seven hills: Airport Hill, Bancroft Hill, Belmont Hill (Bell Hill), Grafton Hill, Green Hill, Pakachoag Hill and Vernon Hill. Actually, there are more than seven hills. Other hills include; Indian Hill, Poet’s Hill, Wigwam Hill among others. Worcester’s lakes include:Lake Quinsigamond, the site of rowing competitions, Indian Lake, Bell Pond, and Coes Pond.

Worcester counts within its borders over 1,200 acres (5 km²) of publicly owned property. Elm Park, purchased in 1854 and laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, was not only the first public park in the city (after the 8 acre (32,000 m²) City Common from 1669) but also one of the first public parks in the U.S. Both the City Common and Elm Park are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.[15] In 1903 the Green family donated the 549 acres (2.2 km²) of Green Hill area land to the city, making Green Hill Park the largest in the city. Green Hill Park Shelter, built in 1910 is on the National Register of Historic Places. In June 2002, city and state leaders dedicated the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Green Hill Park grounds. Other parks include: Newton Hill, East Park, Morgan Park, Shore Park, Crompton Park, Hadwen Park, Crystal Park, and University Park.


Dodge Park gazebo

Washburn Shops, 1868, designed by Elbridge Boyden for the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, with its distinctive arm and hammer weathervane

  • North Worcester
    • Greendale
    • Burncoat
    • Summit
    • Indian Hill
    • Indian Lake
  • Lincoln Street
  • Green Hill Park
  • West Side
    • Tatnuck
    • West Tatnuck
    • Mill Street
    • Worcester Airport
  • Park Ave
  • Downtown
    • Lincoln Square
    • Federal Square
  • Shrewsbury Street
  • Lake Avenue/Quinsigamond Lake
  • Bell Hill
  • Grafton Hill
  • Vernon Hill
    • Kelley Square/Water Street
    • Green Island(a.k.a.the island)
  • College Hill
  • Quinsigamond Village
  • South Worcester
    • Main South
    • Cambridge Street
    • Webster Square
  • Plantation Street
  • Sunderland/Massasoit Road/Rice Square
  • Edgemere


Successive waves of immigrants have in the past formed coherent ethnic enclaves, some of which continue to contribute to the rich ethnic texture of Worcester today. Swedes settled in Quinsigamond Village and Greendale, Italians settled along Shrewsbury Street, Irish and Polish settled around Kelly Square, Lithuanians settled on Vernon Hill, and Jews built their first synagogue on Grafton Hill. The African-American community has existed since colonial times. Since the late 1800s, Grafton Hill and Vernon Hill have been points of entry for immigrants from all over the world: Irish, Italians, Lithuanians, Poles, Syrians, Lebanese, Puerto Ricans, French Canadians, and more recently, Albanians and Brazilians. Other prominent groups include Russians, Armenians, Greeks, Vietnamese, Liberians, and Congolese.

City skyline, looking northeast from Queen Street

Prior to the 2000 census Worcester was the second largest city in New England after Boston. According to a 2006 estimate this title has been reclaimed after briefly losing it to Providence in the 2000 census. As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 172,648 people, 67,028 households, and 39,211 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,596.5 people per square mile (1,774.8/km²). There were 70,723 housing units at an average density of 1,882.9/sq mi (727.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.11% White, 6.89% African American, 0.45% Native American, 4.87% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 7.24% from other races, and 3.39% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.15% of the population. The top 5 largest ancestries include: Irish (19.0%), Italian (11.6%), French (10.3%), English (6.2%), and Polish (6.1%)[2]

There were 67,028 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.3% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.5% were non-families. 33.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.11.

The population is spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.7 males.

The median household income is $35,623, and the median family income is $42,988. Males had a median income of $36,190 versus $28,522 for females. The per capita income is $18,614. About 14.1% of families and 17.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.6% of those under age 18 and 11.6% of those age 65 or over. Of the city’s population over 25, 76.7% are high school graduates and 23.3% have a bachelor’s degree.


Worcester’s continental climate is typical of the New England region. The weather changes rapidly owing to the confluence of warm, humid air from the southwest; cool, dry air from the north; and the moderating influence of the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Summers are typically warm and humid, while winters are cold, windy and snowy. New Englanders expect snow as early as October (rarely), and as late as May. The USDA classifies the city as hardiness zone 5.

The hottest month is July, with an average high of 79 °F (26 °C) and a low of 61 °F (16 °C). The coldest month is January, with an average high of 32 °F (0 °C) and a low of 16 °F (-8 °C). Periods exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) in summer and below 10 °F (−12 °C) in winter are not uncommon, but rarely prolonged. The all-time record high temperature is 102 °F (38.8 °C), recorded on July 4, 1911.[17] The all-time record low temperature is -24 °F (-31.1 °C), recorded on February 16, 1943.[18]

The city averages 47.3 in (1,200 mm) of precipitation a year, including averaging 68 in (172 cm) of snowfall a season, receiving more snow than coastal locations less than 40 miles (64 km) away. Massachusetts’ geographic location’s jutting out into the North Atlantic also make the city very prone to Nor’easter weather systems that can dump more than 20 in (50 cm) of snow on the region in one storm event.

While rare, the city has had its share of extreme weather. On September 21, 1938, the city was hit by the brutal New England Hurricane of 1938. Fifteen years later, Worcester was hit by a tornado that killed 94 people. The deadliest tornado in New England history, it damaged a large part of the city and surrounding towns. It struck Assumption Preparatory School, now the site of Quinsigamond Community College.

[hide]Climate data for Worcester, Massachusetts
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 32
Average low °F (°C) 16
Precipitation inches (cm) 3.6
Source: Weatherbase[19] February 2007


County government: Worcester County
Clerk of Courts: Dennis P. McManus (D)
District Attorney: Joseph D. Early, Jr. (D)
Register of Deeds: Anthony J. Vigliotti (D)
Register of Probate: Stephen Abraham (D)
County Sheriff: Guy W. Glodis (D)
State government
State Representative(s): John J. Binenda (D)
John P. Fresolo (D)
James O’Day (D)
Vincent A. Pedone (D)
Robert P. Spellane (D)
State Senator(s): Michael Moore (D)
Harriet L. Chandler (D)
Governor’s Councilor(s): Thomas J. Foley (D)
Federal government
U.S. Representative(s): James P. McGovern (D-3rd District),
U.S. Senators: John Kerry (D), Scott Brown (R)

Worcester is governed by a Council-manager government with a popularly elected mayor. A city council acts as the legislative body, and the council-appointed manager handles the traditional day-to-day chief executive functions.

City councilors can run as either a representative of a city district or as an at-large candidate. The winning at-large candidate who receives the greatest number of votes for mayor becomes the mayor (at large councilor candidates must ask to be removed from the ballot for mayor if they do not want to be listed on the mayoral ballot). As a result, voters must vote for their mayoral candidate twice, once as an at large councilor, and once as the mayor. The mayor has no more authority than other city councilors, but is the ceremonial head of the city and chair of the city council and school committee. Currently, there are 11 councilors: 6 at-large and 5 district.

Worcester’s first charter, which went into effect in 1848, established a Mayor/Bicameral form of government. Together, the two chambers — the 11-member Board of Aldermen and the 30-member Common Council — were vested with complete legislative powers. The mayor handled all administrative departments, though appointments to those departments had to be approved by the two-chamber City Council.

Seeking to replace the old outdated charter, Worcester voters in November 1947 approved of a change to Plan E municipal government. In effect from January 1949 until November 1985, this charter (as outlined in chapter 43 of the Massachusetts General Laws) established City Council/City Manager government. This type of governance, with modifications, has survived to the present day.

Cambridge Street Firehouse, 1886, designed by Fuller & Delano

Initially, Plan E government in Worcester was organized as a 9-member council (all at-large), a ceremonial mayor elected from the council by the councilors, and a council-appointed city manager. The manager oversees the daily administration of the city, makes all appointments to city offices, and can be removed at any time by a majority vote of the Council. The mayor chairs the city council and the school committee, and does not have the power to veto any vote.[20]

In 1983, Worcester voters again decided to change the city charter. This "Home Rule" charter (named for the method of adoption of the charter) is similar to Plan E, the major changes being to the structure of the council and the election of the mayor. The 9-member Council became 11, 6 At-Large and 1 from each city district. The mayor is chosen by popular election, but must run as an At-Large Councilor.


Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, erected in 2002

Lincoln Square c. 1912

Worcester’s social progressivism includes a number of temperance and abolitionist movements. It was also a leader in the women’s suffrage movement: The first national convention advocating women’s rights was held in Worcester, October 23-24, 1850.[21]

Two of the nation’s most radical (and often despised) abolitionists, Abby Kelley Foster and her husband Stephen S. Foster, adopted Worcester as their home, as did Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the editor of The Atlantic Monthly and Emily Dickinson‘s avuncular correspondent, and Unitarian minister Rev. Edward Everett Hale.

The area was already home to Lucy Stone, Eli Thayer, and Samuel May, Jr. They were joined in their political activities by networks of related Quaker families such as the Earles and the Chases, whose organizing efforts were crucial to the anti-slavery cause in central Massachusetts and throughout New England.

Anarchist Emma Goldman and two others opened an ice cream shop in 1892. "It was spring and not yet warm," Goldman later wrote, "but the coffee I brewed, our sandwiches, and dainty dishes were beginning to be appreciated. Within a short time we were able to invest in a soda-water fountain and some lovely coloured dishes."

On October 19, 1924, the largest gathering of the Ku Klux Klan ever held in New England took place at the Agricultural Fairgrounds in Worcester. Klansmen in sheets and hoods, new Knights awaiting a mass induction ceremony, and supporters swelled the crowd to 15,000. The KKK had hired more than 400 "husky guards," but when the rally ended around midnight, a riot broke out. Klansmen’s cars were stoned, burned, and windows smashed. KKK members were pulled from their cars and beaten. Klansmen called for police protection, but the situation raged out of control for most of the night. The violence after the "Klanvocation" had the desired effect: Membership fell off, and no further public Klan meetings were held in Worcester.

Robert Stoddard, owner of The Telegram and Gazette, was one of the founders of the John Birch Society.

Sixties radical Abbie Hoffman was born in Worcester in 1936 and spent more than half of his life there. Until he was 30, Worcester was the center of his universe; when he moved to New York in 1966, Worcester remained a haven. Even during his years as a fugitive, he would slip back into town and gather with old friends at his favorite restaurant, El Morocco. Biographer and friend Jonah Raskin explains that "Worcester provided him with his view of society and his way of dealing with the world."

Fire Department

The citizens of the City of Worcester are protected 24/7 by the professional firefighters of the Worcester Fire Department. The Worcester Fire Department operates out of ten fire stations throughout the city and operate an apparatus fleet of 13 engines, 7 ladders, one rescue, one dive water rescue, and one special operations unit out of two divisions, the North Division and the South Division. The Department is staffed by over 400 full-time firefighters and responds to over 30,000 emergency calls annually.


Historically, Worcester’s economic roots were tied to the Blackstone River, and in the beginning to the Blackstone Canal, which connected Worcester to the port of Providence, Rhode Island. Textiles, shoes, and finished clothing were some of the first industries in the city. A second wave of manufacturing facilities soon came on the scene to further develop Worcester into a manufacturing center. Wire and machinery were the strengths of this economic cycle. One of the leaders of this manufacturing wave was George Fuller  an inventor and philanthropist, who developed a heat-treating process crucial to developing steel strong enough to be used in train couplings and the first automobile crankshafts. His company, Wyman-Gordon, has been a leading manufacturer of machine parts. Charles Palmer, another innovator, received the first patent (1891) for a lunch wagon, or diner. He built his "fancy night cafes" and "night lunch wagons" in the Worcester area until 1901. After building a lunch wagon for himself in 1888, Thomas Buckley decided to manufacture lunch wagons in Worcester. Buckley was very successful and became known for his "White House Cafe" wagons. In 1906 Philip Duprey and Irving Stoddard established the Worcester Lunch Car Company, which shipped ‘diners’ all over the Eastern Seaboard. Worcester’s Boulevard Diner, Parkway Diner and Miss Worcester Diner are all examples of Worcester Lunch Car Company units, with the Miss Worcester being located across the street from the former factory. Worcester’s largestet Department store was Denholm & McKay founded in 1871. The store closed in 1973.

They were joined in early automobile manufacture by American Wheelock, which built compressed air-powered trucks at Worcester in 1904.[22]

In the 1930s a local merchant, Anthony "Spag" Borgatti, opened Spag’s, a small hardware business. Credited with the invention of discount marketing, he stored his wares in old trailer trucks in order to avoid paying taxes. He was a local philanthropist. Every spring, Spag offered free tomato seedlings to his customers.

Today, Worcester has a diversified economy. The largest employer is the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The adjacent biotech park is host to many innovative companies, including Advanced Cell Technology, which focuses on the development of effective methods to generate replacement cells from stem cells, and Abbott Laboratories, a leading pharmaceutical research and manufacturing firm.

Morgan Construction, a manufacturer of steel rolling mills, has their headquarters in Worcester. Wright Line, a manufacturer of consoles and other workstations for 911/emergency operations centers, server enclosures and racks for data centers, office and computer lab furniture, is also headquartered in the city. Saint-Gobain has a substantial presence in Worcester following its 1993 purchase of the Norton Abrasives, a 100+ year old manufacturer of abrasives, ceramics, and specialty materials. Polar Beverages is also located in the city.

In the financial sector, Hanover Insurance maintains their national headquarters in the city. A subsidiary of Unum (formerly UnumProvident), the Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, is also headquartered in Worcester as is the Harleysville Worcester Insurance Company, the oldest insurance company based in Massachusetts.

David Clark Company pioneered aeronautical protective equipment since 1941, ranging from anti-gravity suits to space suits. Innovations include full-pressure suits for X-15 test pilots flying to record speeds and altitudes and the spacesuit worn by all Apollo astronauts on lunar missions. The company produces the suits worn by modern space shuttle astronauts.

The Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology located in nearby Shrewsbury is best known for the development of the oral contraceptive pill (1951) and for pioneering research on in vitro fertilization. The first American conceived by this method (1981), Elizabeth Jordan Carr, lived in nearby Westminster.

In the area of small business retailing, Worcester is home to the notable popular culture emporium That’s Entertainment (est. 1980), which in 1997 was one of three comic book stores worldwide that received a "Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award" from Comic-Con International: San Diego. The award, named for comic book creator Will Eisner, recognizes "an individual retailer who has done an outstanding job of supporting the comics art medium both in the community and within the industry at large".[23][24]


 Primary and secondary education

Worcester’s Public Schools educate more than 23,000 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade.[25] The system consists of 33 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 7 high schools,[26] and 13 other learning centers such as magnet schools, alternative schools, and special education schools. The city’s public school system also administers an adult education component called "Night Life", and operates a cable accessible television station, Channel 11.

The Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science was founded in 1992 as a public secondary school located at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Twenty-one private and parochial schools are also found throughout Worcester, including the city’s oldest educational institution, Worcester Academy, founded in 1834, and Bancroft School, founded in 1900.

 Higher education

Boynton Hall, 1868, designed by Worcester architect Stephen Earle, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Jonas Clark Building, 1887, by Stephen Earle, Clark University

UMass-Worcester Medical School Hospital

Worcester is home to several institutes of higher education, including:

  • Clark University, founded in 1887, is the first graduate school in the country. It is noted for strengths in psychology and geography. Well-known professors include Albert A. Michelson, who won the first American Nobel Prize in 1902 for his measurement of light, Robert Goddard, the father of the space age, and G. Stanley Hall from Clark University, the founder of organized psychology as a science and profession, the father of the child study movement, and the founder of the American Psychological Association. Clark offers the only program in the country leading to a Ph.D. in Holocaust History and Genocide Studies. Sigmund Freud spoke only at Clark during his single trip to the United States.
  • The University of Massachusetts Medical School (1970) is one of the nation’s top 50 medical schools. Dr. Craig Mello won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Medicine. The University of Massachusetts Medical School is ranked fourth in primary care education among America’s 125 medical schools in the 2006 U.S. News & World Report annual guide "America’s Best Graduate Schools."[28]
  • Becker College is a private college with campuses in Worcester and Leicester, Massachusetts. It was founded in Leicester, Massachusetts in 1784 as Leicester Academy. The Worcester campus was founded in 1887 and the two campuses merged into Becker College in 1977.
  • Assumption College, the fourth oldest Roman Catholic college in New England, was founded in 1904. At 175 acres (0.71 km2), it has the largest campus in Worcester.

An early higher education institution, the Oread Institute, closed in 1934.

Many of these institutions participate in the Colleges of Worcester Consortium. This independent non-profit collegiate association includes academic institutions in Worcester and other communities in Worcester County, such as Anna Maria College in neighboring Paxton. It operates and facilitates cooperation among the colleges and universities. One example is its inter-college shuttle bus and student cross registration.

Other Programs

Worcester is the home of Dynamy, the oldest student residential internship program in the United States.[29] The organization was founded in 1969 and provides internships to young adults during a Gap year, helping them mature, become self-sufficient and choose a vocation.


Bancroft Tower stands atop Bancroft Hill and was erected in 1900 by Stephen Salisbury III in honor of his childhood friendship with George Bancroft.[30]

Warner Memorial Theater, opened 1932, designed by Drew Eberson, Worcester Academy

The Burnside Fountain A.K.A Turtle Boy is a notable piece of outdoor art and local landmark located on the Worcester Common

Museums and libraries

Worcester is home to several noteworthy libraries and museums, including:

Performing arts

Performing arts centers and arenas are abundant in the city. They include,

Annual events

  • The Worcester Music Festival is the oldest music festival in the United States. This festival is presented by Music Worcester, Inc., which also presents the Mass Jazz Festival.[34]
  • stART on the Street is a large street art festival which takes place on the 3rd Sunday in September".[35] This is hosted by the Central MA Arts Assembly.
  • The Asian Festival of Worcester is a large annual festival which takes place on the last Sunday in June each year from 12:00pm to 6:00pm.[36] This event is hosted by the South East Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts and is a collaboration of performances, food, and cultural tables from the diverse Asian communities located all over Massachusetts.
  • Worcester First Night is the name of the city’s New Years Eve celebration.
  • Worcester County St. Patrick’s Parade – one of Massachusetts largest parades. Worcester is also the home of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Div. 36, located on Temple Street, right by the Blackstone Canal, built by our ancestors.

Notable Events

  • Several scenes from the 2002 feature film Star_Trek_Nemesis taking place on Earth were filmed locally, in and around Worcester. The movie went on to receive some acclaim, winning a Young_Artist_Award in the Best Family Feature Film – Fantasy category.[37]

 Popular music

In 1963, a WPI-based folk trio called the Wanderers recorded one album for Strand Records. This was done under the name Minute Men to avoid confusion with another existing recording group. The trio also recorded one single for Swan Records under the name College Boys.

Also in 1963, WPI-based rock band the Blue Echoes recorded a local hit single on their own Bristol label. This was picked up and released nationally by the Lawn subsidiary of Swan Records. The group later recorded two more singles on the local BEP label, one of which was a regional hit.

The band Four Year Strong was formed in Worcester. The band has reached national success, with tours across the United States, as well as playing in the music festival Warped Tour.

Worcester was the site of an experimental and highly controversial creative community comprising musicians, artists, poets and writers called Congress Alley in the late 1960s. Ultimately over 350 people were involved. The Congress Alley "district" encompassed roughly 0.6 square miles, bounded loosely by Highland Street on the North, Chandler Street on the South, Park Ave on the West and Main Street on the East. It was the subject of a popular song, penned by Stephen Martin and aptly titled Congress Alley. Originally recorded by Orpheus (see below), it has since been recorded by several other artists, including Lee Andrews (originally with the doo-wop group Lee Andrews & the Hearts). Andrews named the group that recorded the song Congress Alley, which was also the title of the album itself.

The soft-rock group Orpheus (Orpheus (band)), which recorded three albums and four singles for MGM Records in the late 1960s, was initially based in Congress Alley. All three albums and two of the singles charted nationally. In 1971 a reconstituted group, which also included several members of the Congress Alley community, recorded one album and one single for Bell Records.

The J. Geils Band was formed in Worcester in 1967. Several original members, including John Geils himself, Richard "Magic Dick" Salwitz and Danny Klein, were associated with the Congress Alley community.

Early in the 1970s former Congress Alley denizen Norman Schell founded the country-rock band Clean Living. The group, which included other Congress Alley alumni, recorded two albums and one hit single for Vanguard Records.

In September 1981, the Rolling Stones played an unscheduled performance at the nightclub Sir Morgan’s Cove (later renamed The Lucky Dog) before embarking on their national tour that year.[38] Billed as "Blue Monday with The Cockroaches", the Stones played before a packed house of 350 people who had been given tickets in a promotion by WAAF Radio that day.

One of Rammstein‘s performances in the Family Values Tour ended with lead singer Till Lindemann and keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz being arrested due to the controversial performance of "Bück dich" during a concert on June 5, 1998 in Worcester. They were each fined $200 and spent the night in jail.

"Wormtown," a nickname for Worcester that first appeared about 1978, originally referred to an underground musical subculture, but later became used by a few to refer to the city itself.[39]

 Other cultural resources

The Worcester County Poetry Association fosters the poetic tradition by sponsoring readings by national and local poets, celebrating Bloomsday, and holding conferences and literary tours of Worcester. Local poets have competed successfully in the National Poetry Slam.

The Worcester Center for Crafts, founded in 1856 as the Worcester Employment Society, provides professional-level craft studies to the Worcester community. The Craft Center’s original purpose was to foster economic empowerment by teaching immigrants the skills needed to create and sell crafts. Today, The Worcester Center for Crafts offers craft education in weaving, metalwork, woodwork, enameling, jewelry-making, and other crafts, and seeks to promote an appreciation for fine craft.


The Unitarian-Universalist Church of Worcester was founded in 1841.

The First Unitarian Church of Worcester.

First Assembly of God Worcester

Mt. Olive Pentacostal Church

Armenian Church of Our Savior


Worcester is home to six synagogues, including Temple Emanuel, a leading Reform congregation, and Congregation Beth Israel, a Conservative synagogue founded in 1924.[40] The synagogue and its rabbi were the subject of the book And They Shall be My People: An American Rabbi and His Congregation by Paul Wilkes.


Main Article: Media of Worcester, Massachusetts

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette is Worcester’s only daily newspaper. The paper, known locally as "the Telegram" or "the T and G," is wholly owned by The New York Times Company. WCTR, channel 3, is Worcester’s local news television station, and WUNI-TV, channel 27, is the only major over-the-air broadcast television station in Worcester. Radio stations based in Worcester include WCHC, WCUW, WSRS, WTAG, WWFX, WICN and WXLO.


Main Article: Sports in Worcester

Worcester has a long storied past with sports teams and sporting events. The city was home to Marshall Walter ("Major") Taylor, an African American cyclist who won the world one-mile (1.6 km) track cycling championship in 1899. Taylor’s legacy is being the second black world champion in any sport. Taylor was nicknamed the Worcester Whirlwind by the local papers.

Lake Quinsigamond is home to the Eastern Sprints, a premier rowing event in the United States. Competitive rowing teams first came to Lake Quinsigamond in 1857. Finding the long, narrow lake ideal for such crew meets, avid rowers established boating clubs on the lake’s shores, the first being the Quinsigamond Boating Club. More boating clubs and races followed, and soon many colleges (local, national, and international) held regattas, such as the Eastern Sprints, on the lake. Beginning in 1895, local high schools held crew races on the lake. In 1952, the lake played host to the National Olympic rowing trials.

The city is home to the American Hockey League team Worcester Sharks, which plays at the DCU Center as developmental team for the National Hockey League‘s San Jose Sharks. The AHL was formally represented by the Worcester IceCats from 1994 to 2005.

The city’s professional baseball team, the Worcester Tornadoes, started in 2005 and is a member of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball League. The team plays at the Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field on the campus of the College of the Holy Cross and is not affiliated with any major league team. The New England Surge, a member of the Continental Indoor Football League, played their home games in the DCU Center in their two years of existence, 2007 and 2008. Candlepin bowling was invented in Worcester in 1880 by Justin White, an area bowling alley owner.

Golf‘s Ryder Cup‘s first official tournament was played at the Worcester Country Club in 1927. The course also hosted the U.S. Open in 1925, and the U.S. Women’s Open in 1960.

Worcester’s colleges have had long histories and many notable achievements in collegiate sports. The College of the Holy Cross represents NCAA Division 1 sports in Worcester. The other colleges and Universities in Worcester correspond with division II and III. The Holy Cross Crusaders won the NCAA men’s basketball champions in 1947 and NIT men’s basketball champions in 1954, led by future NBA hall-of-famers and Boston Celtic legends Bob Cousy and Tom Heinsohn. The Crusaders men’s hockey team defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Division I Tournament in the biggest upset in NCAA Hockey history.

Club League Venue Established Championships
Worcester Tornadoes Can-Am, Baseball Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field 2005 1
Worcester Sharks AHL, Ice hockey DCU Center 2006 0
Worcester County Wildcats NEFL, Football Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium 2004 0


 Highways and Roads

Worcester is served by several interstate highways. Interstate 290 connects central Worcester to Interstate 495, I-90 in nearby Auburn, and I-395. I-190 links Worcester to MA 2 and the cities of Fitchburg and Leominster in northern Worcester County. I-90 can also be reached from a new Massachusetts Route 146 connector.

Worcester is also served by several smaller Massachusetts state highways. Route 9 links the city to its eastern and western suburbs, Shrewsbury and Leicester. Route 9 runs almost the entire length of the state, connecting Boston and Worcester with Pittsfield, near the New York state border. Route 12 was the primary route north to Leominster and Fitchburg until the completion of I-190. Route 12 also connected Worcester to Webster before I-395 was completed. It still serves as an alternate, local route. Route 146, the Worcester-Providence Turnpike, connects the city with the similar city of Providence, Rhode Island. Route 20 touches the southernmost tip of Worcester near the Massachusetts Turnpike. U.S. 20 is a coast-to-coast route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and is the longest road in the United States.[41]

Union Station, 1911, designed by Watson & Huckel of Philadelphia


Worcester is the headquarters of the Providence and Worcester, a Class II railroad operating throughout much of southern New England. Worcester is also the western terminus of the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Union Station serves as the hub for commuter railway traffic. Built in 1911, the station has been restored to its original grace and splendor, reopening to full operation in 2000. It also serves as an Amtrak stop, serving the Lake Shore Limited from Boston to Chicago. In October 2008 the MBTA added 5 new trains to the Framingham/Worcester line as part of a plan to add 20 or more trains from Worcester to Boston and also to buy the track from CSX Transportation.[42] Train passengers may also connect to additional services such as the Vermonter line in Springfield.


The Worcester Regional Transit Authority, or WRTA, manages the municipal bus system. Buses operate intracity as well as connect Worcester to surrounding central Massachusetts communities. The WRTA also operates a shuttle bus between member institutions of the Colleges of Worcester Consortium. The Worcester bus station was recently relocated to Worcester Intermodal Center at Union Station. From here, Peter Pan Bus Lines (based in nearby Springfield) services other points in the Northeast.


The Worcester Regional Airport, managed by Massport for the city, lies at the top of Tatnuck Hill, Worcester’s highest. The airport consists of one 7,000 ft runaway and a $15.7 million dollar terminal built to attract airlines and passengers. The airport held numerous airlines from the 1950s through the 1990s, but it has encountered years of spotty commercial flights and disloyal air carriers. On September 4, 2008, Direct Air announced they would begin serving Worcester to Orlando, Florida, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Punta Gorda, Florida in the spring of 2009. Currently, this is the only commercial service serving the city.

 Healthcare and utilities

Old Worcester State Hospital at dawn, the building facing east and catching the sun rising above the Shrewsbury hills. Built 1870-1877, it was designed by Ward P. Delano of the Worcester firm, Fuller & Delano.

The Worcester State Insane Asylum Hospital (1833) was the first hospital in the United States established to treat mental illnesses.

Worcester is home to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, ranked fourth in primary care education among America’s 125 medical schools in the 2006 U.S. News & World Report annual guide "America’s Best Graduate Schools."[28] The school also operates the UMass Memorial Health Care, the clinical arm of the teaching hospital, which has expanded its locations all over central Massachusetts. St. Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center in the downtown area rounds out Worcester’s primary care facilities. Fallon Clinic, presently the largest private multi-specialty group in central Massachusetts, includes St. Vincent’s Hospital in its over 30 locations. Fallon Clinic was the creator of Fallon Community Health Plan, a now independent HMO based in Worcester, and one of the largest health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in the state.

Worcester has a municipally owned water supply. Sewage disposal services are provided by the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement District, which services Worcester as well as some surrounding communities. National Grid USA is the exclusive distributor of electric power to the city, though due to deregulation, customers now have a choice of electric generation companies. Natural gas is distributed by NSTAR Gas; only commercial and industrial customers may choose an alternate natural gas supplier. Verizon, successor to New England Telephone, NYNEX, and Bell Atlantic, is the primary wired telephone service provider for the area. Phone service is also available from various national wireless companies. Cable television is available from Charter Communications, with Broadband Internet access also provided, while a variety of DSL providers and resellers are able to provide broadband Internet over Verizon-owned phone lines.

 Sister cities

Worcester has the following sister cities[citation needed]:

 See also


^ a: The US Census estimates to have overtaken Providence in 2006 by 199 people and has remained as close through 2008. Though this is well within the margin of error, List of United States cities by population uses the 2008 estimates for purposes of ranking. The New England article, however, ranks by 2000 Census, which places Providence as second largest. Which city is larger will be known following the 2010 Census.

 Further reading

 External links

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