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Woburn, Massachusetts
Benjamin Thompson House, Woburn, Massachusetts
Benjamin Thompson House, Woburn, Massachusetts
Official seal of Woburn, Massachusetts
Industria et Virtute (Industry and Virtue)
Location in Middlesex County, Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County, Massachusetts
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Settled 1640
Incorporated 1642
 • Type Mayor-council city
 • Total 12.9 sq mi (33.4 km2)
 • Land 12.7 sq mi (32.8 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)
100 ft (30 m)
 • Total 38,120
 • Density 2,916.7/sq mi (1,129.3/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
01801 / 01888
Area code(s) 339 / 781
FIPS code 25-81035
GNIS feature ID 0612270
Woburn, Massachusetts, Library with statue of Benjamin Thompson
Statue of Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford) outside the library of his hometown, Woburn, Massachusetts (A copy of the original in Munich)
1790 House, Woburn, Massachusetts, Sept. 2005
The 1790 House
Baldwin House, Woburn, Massachusetts
Baldwin House, Woburn, Massachusetts with a stretch of the Middlesex Canal in foreground

Woburn is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA. The population was 38,120 at the 2010 census. Woburn is located 9 miles (14 km) north of Boston, Massachusetts, and just south of the intersection of I-93 and I-95.


Woburn was first settled in 1640 near Horn Pond, a primary source of the Mystic River, and was officially incorporated in 1642. At that time the area included present day towns of Woburn, Winchester, Burlington, and parts of Stoneham and Wilmington. In 1730 Wilmington separated from Woburn. In 1799 Burlington separated from Woburn; in 1850 Winchester did so, too.

Woburn got its name from Woburn, Bedfordshire. Woburn played host to the first religious ordination in the Americas on Nov. 22, 1642. Rev. Thomas Carter was sworn in by many of the most prominent men of New England including John Cotton, minister of the First Church of Boston, Richard Mather minister of the First Church of Dorchester, and Capt. Edward Johnson co-founder of the church and town of Woburn. Johnson is regarded as "the father of Woburn." He served as the first town clerk, represented the town in the Massachusetts General Court, made the first map of Massachusetts, and wrote the first history of the colony.

The first organizational Town Meeting was held on April 13, 1644 and the first town officers were chosen. Town Selectmen were Edward Johnson, Edward Convers, John Mousall, William Learned, Ezekiel Richardson, Samuel Richardson and James Thompson. William Learned was also selected as Constable. Michael Bacon, Ralph Hill, Thomas Richardson were chosen as Surveyors of Highways. (The History of Woburn, 1868)

Deacon Edward Convers was also one of the founders of Woburn. He was one of its first selectmen, and built the first house and first mill in Woburn. He was very active in town affairs and was a large landowner, miller and surveyor.

List of important events

  • Gershom Flagg's tannery was built in 1668
  • The Middlesex Canal was opened in 1803
  • Thompson established a tannery at Cummingsville in 1823
  • The Boston and Lowell Railroad started operating through Woburn in 1835
  • The Woburn Sentinel newspaper began in 1839
  • In 1840 the first membership library opened
  • The telegraph started operating in Woburn in 1867
  • "America's oldest active gun club," the Massachusetts Rifle Association, was founded in 1875 and moved to Woburn in 1876.
  • The public library opened in 1879
  • The telephone was introduced in Woburn in 1882; Electric lights in 1885
  • Woburn was incorporated as a City on June 12, 1888
  • Route 128 opened in 1951
  • Route 93 was built through town in 1963
  • Rail depot closed in 1962.
  • Cummings Properties, the major holder of commercial properties in the region, was founded in 1970.
  • Cummings Foundation was established in 1986.
  • Cummings Foundation purchased the former Choate Memorial Hospital site and turned it into the New Horizons of Choate senior living community in 1990.
  • Community Weeklies Inc. was founded by William S. Cummings and began publishing Woburn Advocate in 1991. The firm was bought by a division of Fidelity Investments in 1994, and Woburn Advocate is now being published by GateHouse Media.
  • Middlesex Superior Courthouse moved to TradeCenter 128 business campus in 2008.
  • The final phase of construction is completed on TradeCenter 128 business campus in 2010.
  • Woburn Police Officer John B. Maguire was killed in the line of duty while responding to an armed robbery on December 26, 2010.
  • Massachusetts Biotechnology Council awarded Woburn the platinum-level "Bio-Ready community" designation in 2011.

Groundwater contamination incident

Woburn was the scene of a high-profile water contamination crisis. During the mid to late 1970s, the local community became concerned over the high incidence of childhood leukemia and other illnesses, particularly in the Pine Street area of east Woburn. After high levels of chemical contamination were found in City of Woburn’s Wells G and H in 1979, some members of the community suspected that the unusually high incidence of leukemia, cancer, and a wide variety of other health problems were linked to the possible exposure to volatile organic chemicals in the groundwater pumped from wells G and H.

In May 1982, a number of citizens whose children had developed or died from leukemia filed a civil lawsuit against two corporations, W. R. Grace and Company and Beatrice Foods. Grace's subsidiary, Cryovac, and Beatrice were suspected of contaminating the groundwater by improperly disposing of trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (perc or PCE) and other industrial solvents at their facilities in Woburn near wells G and H.

In a controversial decision over what many considered a bungled trial (Judge Walter Jay Skinner ruled that the jurors should answer questions that they and many others considered confusing), Beatrice was acquitted and Grace only paid $8 million, a third of which went to the lawyers and lawyer fees. A United States Environmental Protection Agency report later found Beatrice and Grace responsible for the contamination. A book titled A Civil Action was written about the case by Jonathan Harr. In 1998 the book was turned into a movie starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall, also titled A Civil Action. The film was largely filmed in nearby Bedford and Lexington, with only a few shots on location in Woburn.


Woburn is located at 42°29′4″N 71°9′7″W / 42.48444°N 71.15194°W / 42.48444; -71.15194 (42.484545, -71.152060). It is bordered by the towns of Wilmington, Reading, Stoneham, Winchester, Lexington, and Burlington.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.9 square miles (33 km2), of which 12.7 square miles (33 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (1.71%) is water.


Woburn features a humid continental climate, similar to those of many of the other Boston suburban areas. It features moderately cold Winters, but not usually as bad as the ones around The Great Lakes Regions or Southern Canada, or even Northern New England. Nonetheless, it features occasional 'arctic blasts' which can easily drop the temperature below zero. Spring generally starts out cool, around 45-50 degrees, often with snow still on the ground. However, it quickly begins to rapidly warm to around 75 degrees by the time Summer begins. Summers are generally warm or hot & often accompanied with humidity, though not nearly as bad as cities in The Midwest & Mid-Atlantic, and even Rhode Island. Temperatures often top in the 80s, but when an Atlantic low comes, temperatures may fail to rise out of the 60s. High pressure from The Gulf of Mexico, occasionally brings much hotter conditions with temperatures sometimes topping near 100, though this is fairly rare and only happens so often. Falls are generally crisp, but start out warm with temperature highs around 70 & lows around 50. Quickly things cool, and it feels & looks like Winter with temperatures around 40 usually towards the end. Like most of the region, the temperature changes very frequently, so if you visit, then plan to bring a mix of both warm & cold clothes to the region.


See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income
Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1790 1,727 —    
1800 1,228 −28.9%
1810 1,219 −0.7%
1820 1,519 +24.6%
1830 1,977 +30.2%
1840 2,993 +51.4%
1850 3,956 +32.2%
1860 6,287 +58.9%
1870 8,560 +36.2%
1880 10,931 +27.7%
1890 13,499 +23.5%
1900 14,254 +5.6%
1910 15,308 +7.4%
1920 16,574 +8.3%
1930 19,434 +17.3%
1940 19,751 +1.6%
1950 20,492 +3.8%
1960 31,214 +52.3%
1970 37,406 +19.8%
1980 36,626 −2.1%
1990 35,943 −1.9%
2000 37,258 +3.7%
2010 38,120 +2.3%
2015 39,555 +3.8%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 37,258 people (37,010 by 2006 estimate), 14,997 households, and 9,658 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,939.6 people per square mile (1,135.4/km²). There were 15,391 housing units at an average density of 1,214.3 per square mile (469.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.57% White, 1.87% African American, 0.10% Native American, 4.85% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.44% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.09% of the population.

There were 14,997 households out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.5% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the city, the population was spread out with 21.1% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 34.9% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $54,897, and the median income for a family was $66,364. Males had a median income of $45,210 versus $33,239 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,207. About 4.5% of families and 6.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.9% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.


Anderson Regional Transportation Center
Anderson Regional Transportation Center.
  • Anderson Regional Transportation Center is a transit hub, with Amtrak service to Portland, Maine and MBTA Commuter Rail service to Boston's North Station and Lowell, Massachusetts, as well as bus service to Logan International Airport and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport
  • Mishawum is a stop on the MBTA Commuter Rail's Lowell Line that currently has only limited reverse rush hour service.
  • MBTA Bus routes also run through Woburn along its main roads, such as Main Street, Montvale Ave., Lexington Street and Cambridge Road. The routes run north to Burlington and Wilmington and south to Boston.

Points of interest

Convers House
Deacon Edward Convers House, first house built in Woburn, 1640
  • 1790 House
  • Baldwin House
  • Benjamin Thompson House
  • Winn Memorial Library
  • Woburn Memorial High School
  • US Post Office, National Register-listed Classical Revival building
  • First Congregational Church in Woburn, 1860 church belonging to a 1642 congregation
1852 Middlesex Canal (Massachusetts) map
1852 Map of Boston area showing Woburn and the Middlesex Canal
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