Worcester, Massachusetts facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
|City of Worcester|
The City of the Seven Hills, The Heart of the Commonwealth, Wormtown, Woo-town, The Woo
|Incorporated as a town||June 14, 1722|
|Incorporated as a city||February 29, 1848|
|• City||38.6 sq mi (99.9 km2)|
|• Land||37.6 sq mi (97.3 km2)|
|• Water||1.0 sq mi (2.6 km2)|
|Elevation||480 ft (146 m)|
|• Density||4,678.1/sq mi (1,807.8/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (Eastern)|
01601–01610, 01612–01615, 01653–01655
|Area code(s)||508 / 774|
|FIPS code 0||25-82000|
|GNIS feature ID||0617867|
Worcester ( WUUSS-tər is a city and the county seat of Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Named after Worcester, England, as of the 2010 Census the city's population was 181,045, making it the second most populous city in New England after Boston. Worcester is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) west of Boston, 50 miles (80 km) east of Springfield and 40 miles (64 km) north of Providence. Due to its location in Central Massachusetts, Worcester is known as the "Heart of the Commonwealth", thus, a heart is the official symbol of the city. However, the heart symbol may also have its provenance in lore that the mass-produced Valentine's Day card was invented in the city.
Worcester was considered its own region for centuries; however, with the encroachment of Boston's suburbs in the 1970s after the construction of Interstate 495 and Interstate 290, it now marks the western periphery of the Boston-Worcester-Providence (MA-RI-NH) U.S. Census Combined Statistical Area (CSA), or Greater Boston. The city features many examples of Victorian-era mill architecture.
- See also: Timeline of Worcester, Massachusetts
The area was first inhabited by members of the Nipmuc tribe. The native people called the region Quinsigamond and built a settlement on Pakachoag Hill in Auburn. In 1673 English settlers John Eliot and Daniel Gookin led an expedition to Quinsigamond to establish a new Christian Indian "praying town" and identify a new location for an English settlement. On July 13, 1674, Gookin obtained a deed to eight square miles of land in Quinsigamond from the Nipmuc people and English traders and settlers began to inhabit the region.
In 1675, King Philip's War broke out throughout New England with the Nipmuc Indians coming to the aid of Indian leader King Philip. The English settlers completely abandoned the Quinsigamond area and the empty buildings were burned by the Indian forces. The town was again abandoned during Queen Anne's War in 1702. Finally in 1713, Worcester was permanently resettled for a third time by Jonas Rice. Named after the city of Worcester, England, the town was incorporated on June 14, 1722. On April 2, 1731, Worcester was chosen as the county seat of the newly founded Worcester County government. Between 1755 and 1758, future U.S. president John Adams worked as a schoolteacher and studied law in Worcester.
In the 1770s, Worcester became a center of American revolutionary activity. British General Thomas Gage was given information of patriot ammunition stockpiled in Worcester in 1775. Also in 1775, Massachusetts Spy publisher Isaiah Thomas moved his radical newspaper out of British occupied Boston to Worcester. Thomas would continuously publish his paper throughout the American Revolutionary War. On July 14, 1776, Thomas performed the first public reading in Massachusetts of the Declaration of Independence in front of the Worcester town hall. He would later go on to form the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester in 1812.
During the turn of the 19th century Worcester's economy moved into manufacturing. Factories producing textiles, shoes and clothing opened along the nearby Blackstone River. However, the manufacturing industry in Worcester would not begin to thrive until the opening of the Blackstone Canal in 1828 and the opening of the Worcester and Boston Railroad in 1835. The city transformed into a transportation hub and the manufacturing industry flourished. Worcester was officially chartered as a city on February 29, 1848. The city's industries soon attracted immigrants of primarily Irish, French, and Swedish descent in the mid-19th century and later many immigrants of Lithuanian, Polish, Italian, Greek, Turkish and Armenian descent. Immigrants moved into new triple-decker houses which lined hundreds of Worcester's expanding streets and neighborhoods.
In 1831 Ichabod Washburn opened the Washburn & Moen Company. The company would become the largest wire manufacturing in the country and Washburn became one of the leading industrial and philanthropic figures in the city.
Worcester would become a center of machinery, wire products and power looms and boasted large manufacturers, Washburn & Moen, Wyman-Gordon Company, American Steel & Wire, Morgan Construction and the Norton Company. In 1908 the Royal Worcester Corset Factory was the largest employer of women in the United States.
Worcester would also claim many inventions and firsts. New England Candlepin bowling was invented in Worcester by Justin White in 1879. Esther Howland began the first line of Valentine's Day cards from her Worcester home in 1847. Loring Coes invented the first monkey wrench and Russell Hawes created the first envelope folding machine. On June 12, 1880, Lee Richmond pitched the first perfect game in Major league baseball history for the Worcester Ruby Legs at the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds.
On June 9, 1953 a F4 tornado touched down in Petersham, Massachusetts northwest of Worcester. The tornado tore through 48 miles of Worcester County including a large area of the city of Worcester. The tornado left massive destruction and killed 94 people. The Worcester Tornado would be the most deadly tornado to ever hit Massachusetts. Debris from the tornado landed as far away as Dedham, Massachusetts.
After World War II, Worcester began to fall into decline as the city lost its manufacturing base to cheaper alternatives across the country and overseas. Worcester felt the national trends of movement away from historic urban centers. The city's population would drop over 20% from 1950 to 1980. In the mid-20th century large urban renewal projects were undertaken to try and reverse the city's decline. A huge area of downtown Worcester was demolished for new office towers and the 1,000,000 sq. ft. Worcester Center Galleria shopping mall. After only 30 years the Galleria would lose most of its major tenants and lose its appeal to more suburban shopping malls around Worcester County. In the 1960s, Interstate 290 was built right through the center of Worcester, permanently dividing the city. In 1963, Worcester native Harvey Ball introduced the iconic yellow smiley face to American culture.
In the late 20th century Worcester's economy began to recover as the city expanded into biotechnology and healthcare fields. The UMass Medical School has become a leader in biomedical research and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park has become a center of medical research and development. Worcester hospitals Saint Vincent Hospital and UMass Memorial Health Care have become two of the largest employers in the city. Worcester's many colleges, including the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Clark University, UMass Medical School, Assumption College, MCPHS University, Becker College, and Worcester State University, attract many students to the area and help drive the new economy.
On December 3, 1999 a homeless man and his girlfriend accidentally started a five-alarm fire at the Worcester Cold Storage & Warehouse Company. The fire took the lives of six firemen and drew national attention as one of the worst firefighting tragedies in the late 20th century. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and other local and national dignitaries attended the funeral service and memorial program in Worcester.
In recent decades, a renewed interest in the city's downtown has brought new investment and construction to Worcester. A Convention Center was built along the DCU Center arena in downtown Worcester in 1997. In 2000, Worcester's Union Station reopened after 25 years of neglect and a $32 million renovation. Hanover Insurance helped fund a multimillion-dollar renovation to the old Franklin Square Theater into the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts. In 2000, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences built a new campus in downtown Worcester. In 2007 WPI opened the first facility in their new Gateway Park center in Lincoln Square. In 2004, Berkeley Investments proposed demolishing the old Worcester Center Galleria for a new mixed-used development called City Square. The ambitious project looked to reconnect old street patterns while creating a new retail, commercial and living destination in the city. After struggling to secure finances for a number of years Hanover Insurance took over the project and demolition began on September 13, 2010. Unum Insurance and the Saint Vincent Hospital leased into the project and both facilities opened in 2013. The new Front Street opened on December 31, 2012.
Worcester has a total area 38.6 square miles (100 km2). 37.6 square miles (97 km2) of it is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2) (roughly 2.59%) is water. Worcester is bordered by the towns of Auburn, Grafton, Holden, Leicester, Millbury, Paxton, Shrewsbury, and West Boylston.
Worcester is known as the Heart of the Commonwealth, because of its proximity to the center of Massachusetts. The city is about 45 miles (72 km) west of Boston, 40 miles (64 km) east of Springfield, and 38 miles (61 km) northwest of Providence, Rhode Island.
The Blackstone River forms in the center of Worcester by the confluence of the Middle River and Mill Brook. The river courses underground through the center of the city, and emerges at the foot of College Hill. It then flows south through Quinsigamond Village and into Millbury. Worcester is the beginning of the Blackstone Valley that frames the river. The Blackstone Canal was once an important waterway connecting Worcester to Providence and the Eastern Seaboard, but the canal fell into disuse at the end of the 19th century and was mostly covered up. In recent years, local organizations including the Canal District Business Association have proposed restoring the canal and creating a Blackstone Valley National Park.
Worcester is one of many cities claimed, like Rome, to be found on seven hills: Airport Hill, Bancroft Hill, Belmont Hill (Bell Hill), Grafton Hill, Green Hill, Pakachoag Hill and Vernon Hill. However, Worcester has more than seven hills including Indian Hill, Newton Hill, Poet's Hill, and Wigwam Hill.
Worcester has many ponds and two prominent lakes: Indian Lake and Lake Quinsigamond. Lake Quinsigamond (also known as Long Pond) stretches four miles across the Worcester and Shrewsbury border and is a very popular competitive rowing and boating destination.
Worcester's humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) is typical of New England. 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. Snow typically falls from the second half of November into early April, with occasional falls in October; May snow is much rarer. The USDA classifies the city as straddling hardiness zones 5b and 6a.
The hottest month is July, with a 24-hour average of 70.2 °F (21.2 °C), while the coldest is January, at 24.1 °F (−4.4 °C). There is an average of only 3.5 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs and 4.1 nights of lows at or below 0 °F (−18 °C) per year, and periods of both extremes are rarely sustained. The all-time record high temperature is 102 °F (39 °C), recorded on July 4, 1911, the only 100 °F (38 °C) or greater temperature to date. The all-time record low temperature is −24 °F (−31 °C), recorded on February 16, 1943.
The city averages 48.1 inches (1,220 mm) of precipitation a year, as well as an average of 64.1 inches (163 cm) of snowfall a season, receiving far more snow than coastal locations less than 40 miles (64 km) away. Massachusetts' geographic location, jutting out into the North Atlantic, makes the city very prone to Nor'easter weather systems that can dump heavy snow on the region.
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.
|Climate data for Worcester, Massachusetts (Worcester Regional Airport), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1892–present|
|Record high °F (°C)||67
|Average high °F (°C)||31.3
|Average low °F (°C)||16.8
|Record low °F (°C)||−19
|Precipitation inches (mm)||3.49
|Snowfall inches (cm)||17.1
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||12.5||10.5||12.9||12.4||13.6||12.3||10.9||10.1||9.9||10.5||11.6||12.2||139.4|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||8.5||7.0||6.0||1.6||0||0||0||0||0||0.2||1.4||7.0||31.7|
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 Poles settled around Kelley Square, Lithuanians settled on Vernon Hill, and Jews built their first synagogues on Green Island and Union Hill. The African-American community has existed since colonial times. Since the late 19th century, Grafton Hill and Vernon Hill have been points of entry for immigrants from all over the world: Irish, Italians, Lithuanians, Poles, Syrians, Lebanese, Indians, Puerto Ricans, French Canadians, and more recently, Albanians and Brazilians. Other prominent groups include Congolese, Russians, Armenians, Vietnamese, Liberians, Ghanaians and Greeks.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Worcester had a population of 181,045, of which 88,150 (48.7%) were male and 92,895 (51.3%) were female. In terms of age, 77.9% were over 18 years old and 11.7% were over 65 years old; the median age is 33.4 years. The median age for males is 32.1 years and 34.7 years for females.
In terms of race and ethnicity, Worcester's population was 69.4% White, 11.6% Black or African American, 0.4% American Indian and Alaska Native, 6.1% Asian (3.0% Vietnamese, 0.9% Chinese, and 0.8% Asian Indian), <0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 8.4% from Some Other Race, and 4.0% from Two or More Races (1.2% White and Black or African American; 1.0% White and Some Other Race). Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 20.9% of the population (12.7% Puerto Rican). Non-Hispanic Whites were 59.6% of the population in 2010, down from 96.8% in 1970.
- See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income
Data is from the 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
|Rank||ZIP Code (ZCTA)||Per capita
- See also: List of people from Worcester, Massachusetts
Much of Worcester culture is synonymous with Boston and New England culture. The city's name is notoriously mispronounced by people unfamiliar with the city. As with the city in England, the first syllable of "cester" (castra) is left entirely unvoiced. Combined with a predominantly non-rhotic version of a New England accent, the name can be transcribed in General American as WOOS-tah or WISS-tah; see close central unrounded vowel.
Worcester has many traditionally ethnic neighborhoods, including Quinsigamond Village (Swedish), Shrewsbury Street (Italian) Kelley Square (Irish and Polish) Vernon Hill (Lithuanian) and Union Hill (Jewish).
Shrewsbury Street is Worcester's traditional "Little Italy" neighborhood and today boasts many of the city's most popular restaurants and nightlife. The Canal District was once an old eastern European neighborhood, but has been redeveloped into a very popular bar, restaurant and club scene. Worcester is also famously the former home of the Worcester Lunch Car Company. The company began in 1906 and built many famous lunch car diners in New England. Worcester is home to many classic lunch car diners including Boulevard Diner, Corner Lunch, Chadwick Square Diner, and Miss Worcester Diner.
There are also many dedicated community organizations and art associations located in the city. stART on the Street is an annual festival promoting local art. The Worcester Music Festival and New England Metal and Hardcore Festival are also held annually in Worcester. The Worcester County St. Patrick's Parade runs through Worcester and is one of the largest St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the state. The city also hosts the second oldest First Night celebration in the country each New Year's Eve.
Worcester is also the state's largest center for the arts outside of Boston. Mechanics Hall, built in 1857, is one of the oldest concert halls in the country and is renowned for its pure acoustics. In 2008 the old Poli Palace Theatre reopened as the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts. The theatre brings many Broadway shows and nationally recognized performers to the city. Tuckerman Hall, designed by one of the country's earliest woman architects, Josephine Wright Chapman, is home to the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra. The DCU Center arena and convention holds many large concerts, exhibitions and conventions in the city. The Worcester County Poetry Association sponsors readings by national and local poets in the city and the Worcester Center for Crafts provides craft education and skills to the community. Worcester is also home to the Worcester Youth Orchestras. Founded in 1947 by Harry Levenson, it is the 3rd oldest youth orchestra in the country and regularly performs at Mechanics Hall.
The nickname Wormtown is synonymous with the city's once large underground rock music scene. The nickname has now become used to refer to the city itself.
Sites of interest
Worcester has 1,200 acres of publicly owned property. Notable parks include Elm Park, which was laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1854, and the City Common laid out in 1669. Both parks are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The largest park in the city is the 549 acre Green Hill Park. The park was donated by the Green family in 1903 and includes the Green Hill Park Shelter built in 1910. In 2002, the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Green Hill Park. Other Parks, include Newton Hill, East Park, Morgan Park, Shore Park, Crompton Park, Hadwen Park, Institute Park and University Park. As a former manufacturing center, Worcester has many historic 19th century buildings and on the National Register of Historic Places, including the old facilities of the Crompton Loom Works, Ashworth and Jones Factory and Worcester Corset Company Factory.
The American Antiquarian Society has been located in Worcester since 1812. The national library and society has one of the largest collections of early American history in the world. The city's main museum is the Worcester Art Museum established in 1898. The museum is the second largest art museum in New England, behind the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. From 1931 to 2013, Worcester was home to the Higgins Armory Museum, which was the sole museum dedicated to arms and armor in the country. Its collection and endowment were transferred and integrated into the Worcester Art Museum, with the collection to be shown in a new gallery slated to open in 2015. The non-profit Veterans Inc. is headquartered at the southern tip of Grove Street in the historic Massachusetts National Guard Armory building.
The Worcester Memorial Auditorium is one of the most prominent buildings in the city. Built as a World War I war memorial in 1933, the multipurpose auditorium has hosted many of the Worcester's most famous concerts and sporting events.
The Unitarian-Universalist Church of Worcester was founded in 1841. Worcester's Greek Orthodox Cathedral, St. Spyridon, was founded in 1924.
Worcester is home to a dedicated Jewish population, who attend five synagogues, including Reform congregation Temple Emanuel Sinai, Congregation Beth Israel, a Conservative synagogue founded in 1924, and Orthodox Congregation Tifereth Israel - Sons of Jacob (Chabad), home of Yeshiva Achei Tmimim Academy. Beth Israel and its rabbi were the subject of the book And They Shall be My People: An American Rabbi and His Congregation by Paul Wilkes.
The first Armenian Church in America was built in Worcester in 1890 and consecrated on January 18, 1891 as "Soorp Purgich" (Holy Saviour). The current sanctuary of the congregation, known now as Armenian Church of Our Savior was consecrated in 1952.
The first Catholics came to Worcester in 1826. They were chiefly Irish immigrants brought to America by the builders of the Blackstone canal. As time went on and the number of Catholics increased, the community petitioned Bishop Fenwick to send them a priest. In response to this appeal, the bishop appointed the Reverend James Fitton to visit the Catholics of Worcester in 1834. Catholic mass was first offered in the city in an old stone building on Front street. The foundation of Christ's Church, the first Catholic church in Worcester (now St. John's), was laid on July 6, 1834.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester was canonically erected on January 14, 1950, by Pope Pius XII. Its territories were taken from the neighboring Diocese of Springfield. The current and fifth bishop is Robert Joseph McManus.
Worcester has the following sister cities:
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