Worcester, Massachusetts

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Missing image
Downtown Worcester, with City Hall at the right

Worcester is a city in Worcester County in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States of America. Its population in the 2000 census was 172,648; a July 1, 2002 estimate put the city's population at 174,962. In terms of population, Worcester is the third-largest city in New England, behind Boston and Providence, Rhode Island.

The metropolitan area is the fastest growing area in the state. The city is ranked twenty-fifth in the nation for its size in terms of current population and economic growth.



Worcester was first settled in 1673 and was officially incorporated in 1684. The settlement was established as a town in 1722, and chartered as a city in 1848. When the government of Worcester County was established on April 2, 1731, Worcester was chosen as its 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.

John Adams taught at the village schoolhouse in Worcester before returning to Braintree to practice law and contribute to the revolution and founding of the United States.

On June 9, 1953, Worcester was hit by a tornado that killed 94 people and damaged a large part of the city. It was the deadliest tornado in New England history. Among others, the tornado struck the then campus of Assumption College (currently Quinsigamond Community College).

Worcester firsts
  • The Declaration of Independence was first publicly read in Massachusetts by Isaiah Thomas in Worcester in July 1776.
  • The monkey wrench was invented by Loring Coes of the Coes Knife Company in 1840.
  • Worcester resident Charles Thurber patented the first modern-day typewriter in 1843.
  • The first national convention of women advocating women's suffrage was held in Worcester on October 23 and 24, 1850.
  • Dr. Russell L. Hawes, a Worcester physician, invented the first machine for folding plain paper into envelopes in 1852.
  • Elm Park became the first public park in the country when land was deeded to the city of Worcester in 1854.
  • Worcester resident Joshua Stoddard invented the steam calliope in 1855.
  • J. Lee Richmond of the Worcesters pitched the first perfect game in major league baseball history on June 12, 1880.
  • Candlepin bowling was first developed in Worcester in 1880.
  • Worcester resident Henry Perky became the first to mass produce shredded wheat in 1895.
  • Albert A. Michelson, chairman of Clark University's Physics Department, named America's first Nobel Prize Winner in 1902 for his experiments relating to his calculation of the speed of light.
  • Dr. Robert H. Goddard of Worcester Polytechnic Institute's class of 1908 and later Clark University patented the first liquid fuel rocket in 1914.
  • Harvey Ball designed the world famous Smiley face in 1963.
  • The first radio station to play a Beatles song in the United States was WORC in Worcester.
  • The first woman to serve on a President's cabinet was Frances Perkins of Worcester; she served as FDR's Secretary of Labor.
  • The first dictionary printed in the U.S. was in Worcester in the 18th century, by Isaiah Thomas, who also printed the largest newspaper of the time, the Massachusetts Spy.
  • In 1847, the first commercial valentine was mass produced in Worcester by Esther Howland.
  • Between September 6-10, 1909, Sigmund Freud delivered his only American lectures at Clark University ("Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis" later published as "On Psychoanalysis"). Carl Jung joined him, and William James attended.


Worcester is located at 42°16'8" North, 71°48'14" West (42.268843, -71.803774)Template:GR.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 99.9 km² (38.6 mi²). 97.3 km² (37.6 mi²) of it is land and 2.6 km² (1.0 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.59% water.

The Blackstone River passes through Worcester, but is almost completely covered as it passes through. Water Street (the traditional hub of Worcester's Jewish population, famed for its bakeries), and the appearance of the river just south of the city, are the only indications of its existence. Just as in Rome, Italy, there are seven very steep hills that distinguish its topography: Airport Hill, Bancroft Hill, Belmont Hill (Bell Hill), Grafton Hill, Green Hill, Pakachoag Hill and Vernon Hill. Lake Quinsigamond, on its eastern border, is frequently the site of rowing competitions.

ZIP codes in Worcester are 01601-01610, 01613-01615, and 01653-01655.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 172,648 people, 67,028 households, and 39,211 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,774.8/km² (4,596.5/mi²). There are 70,723 housing units at an average density of 727.0/km² (1,882.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 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. 15.15% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 67,028 households out of which 29.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.3% are married couples living together, 15.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 41.5% are non-families. 33.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.41 and the average family size is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 88.7 males.

The median household income is $35,623, and the median family income is $42,988. Males have a median income of $36,190 versus $28,522 for females. The per capita income is $18,614. 17.9% of the population and 14.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 24.6% of those under the age of 18 and 11.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Local government

Worcester is governed by a combined City Manager/City Council type of government. A board of elected councilors acts as the legislative body, and the council-appointed manager handles the traditional mayoral functions.

City councilors can run as either a representative of a city district, or as an at-large candidate. The candidate who receives the greatest number of votes becomes the city mayor (unless the candidate specifically refuses to hold the post). 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.

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.

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.


Missing image
The Dodge Park Gazebo

Worcester counts within its borders over 1200 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) Common, 1669) but also one of the first of its kind in the nation. Both the City Common and Elm Park are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 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. In June 2002, city and state leaders dedicated the state's Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Green Hill Park grounds.

Worcester is home to the American Antiquarian Society, Higgins Armory (the largest collection of arms and armor in the western hemisphere), the Worcester Art Museum, Mechanics Hall, the Ecotarium, and the DCU Center (formerly the Worcester Centrum).

Worcester's Union Station, recently renovated back to its French Renaissance glory, opines in symbol the elegance and industrial legacy of this bustling metropolis. The station, once serving 10,000 passengers daily, is now home to an intermodal terminal, a successful restaurant (http://www.unionstationtherestaurant.com), a blues lounge (http://www.unionblues.org), and The FDR American Heritage Center Museum and Special Collection showcase (http://www.fdrheritage.org).

Worcester also has its share of quirky landmarks. For example, the American Sanitary Plumbing Muesum (http://ludb.clui.org/ex/i/MA3127/) on Piedmont street is home to a collection of toilets and sinks from various periods of history. The Burnside Fountain, located on the south side of the Worcester Common, is known to locals as "Turtle Boy." The fountain features a boy and a turtle engaged in what many observers believe to be an obscene act.

Notable people

Born in Worcester

Other residents



Interstate 290, a spur route off the Mass Pike (I-90), was highly controversial in its planning and construction in the late 1950s-early 1960s. City residents living in the path of the proposed highway voiced opposition to the plan. However, by 1955 the project was part of the federal Interstate Highway System and out of municipal control. Construction on the Worcester section began in 1958 and finished 10 years later. The entire route, from I-90 to I-495 in Marlborough, opened to traffic in 1970. As one of the main toll-free alternatives to the Mass Pike, I-290 currently carries approximately 125,000 vehicles per day in the city [1] (http://www.mhd.state.ma.us/mhd/trafficc/byRoute/rte_i290.htm), more than the road's design limit of 70,000.

Interstate 190 opened to traffic in 1983 as a spur from I-290 to Route 2, in the north. I-190 joins I-290 at an interchange in north-central Worcester.

Worcester serves as a hub for several smaller Massachusetts state highways. Route 9 links the city to its eastern suburb, Shrewsbury, and points east. Route 12 was the primary route north to Fitchburg until the completion of I-190. Route 146, the Worcester-Providence Highway, now serves as an alternative north-south route to the traffic-congested I-290/I-395.


The Worcester Regional Transit Authority, or RTA, manages the municipal bus system. The RTA also operates a shuttle bus between member institutions of the Colleges of Worcester Consortium.

Many people also rely on the two taxi companies (known as Red Cab and Yellow Cab) operating in Worcester or on the plentiful parking.


Worcester is the last stop on the Worcester/Framingham commuter rail line run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Union Station, an early-20th century structure restored to full operation in 2000, serves as the hub for commuter railway traffic. It is also an Amtrak station on the line to Chicago, Illinois.


The Worcester Regional Airport lies at the top of the city's highest hill. Until February 2003, the airport had provided commercial air travel services to central Massachusetts. Attempts to draw commercial service back to the airport have been unsuccessful as of December 2004. The airport remains open for use by private and business flights. Boston-based CBS affiliate WBZ-TV installed a Doppler radar weather station at the station for use in their televised weather reports.


Colleges and universities

The city is known for its numerous institutions of higher learning, including:

Many of these institutions participate in the Colleges of Worcester Consortium. This independent non-profit collegiate association operates and facilitates cooperation among the colleges and universities, for example, through its inter-college shuttle bus and student cross registration. The consortium includes all academic institutions in Worcester County, whether within or outside the city boundaries. Members not listed above include Anna Maria College, Atlantic Union College, Nichols College, and Tufts Veterinary School.

Professional schools

Preparatory schools

Worcester Academy and the Bancroft School (http://www.bancroftschool.org/), two well-known preparatory schools, are located in Worcester. The Bancroft School was founded in 1901 and is a K through 12 private school. It is located on Shore Drive, across the road from Indian Lake.

Saint John's High School is also located within the metropolitan area.

The Highland Military Academy opened in 1856 but is now closed.

Public high schools

The City of Worcester has five public high schools: Doherty Memorial High School, Burncoat High School, North High School, South High Community School, and Worcester Vocational High School.

The Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science, a public magnet school for science and mathematics founded in 1992, is affiliated with and located near the campus of WPI.

Local media


The Worcester Telegram & Gazette is Worcester's only daily newspaper. The paper, known locally as just "the Telegram" or "the T and G," is wholly owned by The New York Times Company. Worcester Magazine is an independent weekly newspaper published by Worcester Publishing Ltd.. The paper covers news and events in Worcester County. In City Times is an independently owned and published bi-weekly newspaper covering news stories primarily from the city of Worcester.


See also: List of radio stations in Massachusetts

WCTR TV-3 is Worcester's local news television station, broadcasting on Charter Communications' cable channel 3. Produced partly by NECN, "Worcester News Tonight" is a daily 30-minute news segment reporting on events in the city and in surrounding towns.

WCRN AM-830 is Worcester's only 50,000 watt radio station. Broadcasting primarily 1950s and 1960s Rock and Roll music, they also broadcast UMass athletics and Worcester Tornadoes baseball games. Mornings feature Frank's Diner (a local DJ morning show) from 6AM to 9AM and Money Matters from 9 AM to noon. The rest of the programming consists of rock and roll hosted by DJ Scott Shannon.

WCHC FM-88.1 is the College of the Holy Cross's Radio Station. The station features a variety of music all played by students or other members of the College community. The station also broadcasts Holy Cross sporting events, mainly football, basketball, and hockey.

Professional sports teams

Worcester does not have a long history with professional sports franchises. The only professional team based in the city in recent years, the Worcester IceCats minor-league ice hockey team, ended its final Worcester season in the spring of 2005. The franchise will move to Peoria, Illinois.

Worcester Tornadoes

In January 2005, Worcester mayor Tim Murray announced the formation of the Worcester Professional Baseball organization. The organization is a private enterprise, headed by business leaders in central Massachusetts. It set an ambitious schedule of being ready for the 2005 season, playing at an upgraded Fitton Field on the campus of the College of the Holy Cross. The team will play against area rivals in the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball League. It is not affiliated with any Major League Baseball team.

On March 9, 2005, in a press conference at Holy Cross, team managemant announced the team name -- the Worcester Tornadoes -- and official logo. The name was chosen from among 1000 entries in a two-month-long naming contest. The "Tornadoes" refers to the deadly tornado that struck Worcester and central Massachusetts in 1953. Team managment plans to honor the memory of the tornado by making a contribution to the tornado memorial, at the present site of Quinsigamond Community College.

The Tornadoes played their first game on May 30, 2005, defeating the Brockton Rox.

The Worcesters

The Worcesters, a defunct Major League Baseball team, was one of the first teams to play in the nascent National League. This team, which operated from 1880 to 1882, is believed to be the only major league team in history to not have an attached nickname.

The team's home field, the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds, off of Sever Street in Worcester (near the present site of Becker College's Worcester campus), was the site of the first recorded perfect game in professional baseball. Pitcher John Lee Richmond achieved this feat on June 12, 1880, against the Cleveland Blues.

Attendance suffered in following seasons, despite this early spectacle, and at one game in 1882 the crowd was measured at 18 strong. This was down from the franchise high of 3,652 in 1881. At the end of its third season, the team was expelled from the National League, and replaced with a team from Philadelphia.

The New England Blazers

The Blazers are a now defunct, Major League Lacrosse team that played at the Worcester Centrum during the 1980s.

City name pronunciation

"Worcester" is correctly pronounced with two syllables, not three: (IPA) — listen. The first syllable of "Worcester" is stressed and usually rhymes with the first syllable of "pussycat"; however, some residents pronounce "Worcester" to rhyme with "mister." (The speakers in that group have the non-rhotic accent common in New England, and so would say ("WIH-stuh").)


External links


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