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Worcester, Massachusetts
City of Worcester
Downtown Worcester, Massachusetts.jpg
City Hall - Worcester, Massachusetts USA.JPG
WorcesterMA AntiquarianSociety 2.jpg
Charles Lundberg Three Decker, Worcester MA.jpg
Union Station November 2012.JPG
Paul Revere Road Worcester.JPG
Bankroft Tower.jpg
Clockwise from top: The Worcester Skyline, the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester Union Station, Bancroft Tower, Paul Revere Road, a triple-decker house on Catharine Street, and City Hall
Flag of Worcester, Massachusetts
Official seal of Worcester, Massachusetts
The City of the Seven Hills, The Heart of the Commonwealth, Wormtown, Woo-town, The Woo
Location within Worcester County
Location within Worcester County
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Worcester
Region New England
Historic countries Kingdom of England
Kingdom of Great Britain
Historic colonies Massachusetts Bay Colony
Dominion of New England
Province of Massachusetts Bay
Settled 1673
Incorporated as a town June 14, 1722
Incorporated as a city February 29, 1848
Named for Worcester, Worcestershire
 • Type Council–manager
 • City 38.45 sq mi (99.57 km2)
 • Land 37.36 sq mi (96.77 km2)
 • Water 1.08 sq mi (2.81 km2)
480 ft (146 m)
 • City 206,518
 • Density 5,371.07/sq mi (2,134.11/km2)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
01601–01610, 01612–01615, 01653–01655
Area code(s) 508 / 774
FIPS code 0 25-82000
GNIS feature ID 0617867
GDP $45.393131 billion (as of 2018, in 2012 US chained dollars)
GDP per capita $45,528 per person

Worcester ( WUUS-tər) is a city in, and county seat of, Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Named after Worcester, Worcestershire, England, as of the 2020 Census the city's population was 206,518, making it the second-most populous city in New England after Boston. Worcester is approximately 40 miles (64 km) west of Boston, 50 miles (80 km) east of Springfield and 40 miles (64 km) north-northwest of Providence. Due to its location near the geographic center of Massachusetts, Worcester is known as the "Heart of the Commonwealth;" a heart is the official symbol of the city.

Worcester developed as an industrial city in the 19th century due to the Blackstone Canal and rail transport, producing machinery, textiles and wire. Large numbers of European immigrants made up the city's growing population. However, the city's manufacturing base waned following World War II. Long-term economic and population decline was not reversed until the 1990s, when higher education, medicine, biotechnology, and new immigrants started to make their mark. The city's population has grown by 28% since 1980, reaching a new all-time high in the 2020 census and experiencing urban renewal.

Modern Worcester is known for its diversity and large immigrant population, with significant communities of Vietnamese, Brazilians, Albanians, Puerto Ricans, Ghanaians, Dominicans, and others. 22% of Worcester's population was born outside the United States. A center of higher education, it is home to eight separate colleges and universities, including Holy Cross, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and Clark University. Architecturally, Worcester is notable for its large number of 19th century triple-decker houses, Victorian-era mill architecture, and lunch car diners such as Miss Worcester.

Worcester is the principal city of Central Massachusetts, and is a regional government, employment and transportation hub. Since the 1970s, and especially after the construction of Route 146 and interstates 90, 495, 190, 290, and 395, both Worcester and its surrounding towns have become increasingly integrated with Boston's suburbs. The Worcester region now marks the western periphery of the Boston-Worcester-Providence (MA-RI-NH) U.S. Census Combined Statistical Area (CSA), or Greater Boston.


Jonas rice
History and corner stone 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.

The Star on the Sidewalk, Worcester, Massachusetts
The Star on the Sidewalk indicates the spot of the first reading in New England of the Declaration of Independence in 1776

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.

Salisbury Mansion, Worcester MA
Salisbury Mansion, 1772
Corner of Palm and Houghton, Worcester MA
Triple-deckers on Houghton Street

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.

Front Street and The Common, Worcester, MA
Worcester Common in 1907, established in 1669

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.

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

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.

Worcester tornado damage
Damage at Assumption College after the 1953 Worcester Tornado

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.

Hanover Theatre and Nearby Fountain
The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts reopened in Franklin Square in 2008

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
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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
trace 0
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
Source: NOAA




Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 2,095
1800 2,411 15.1%
1810 2,577 6.9%
1820 2,962 14.9%
1830 4,173 40.9%
1840 7,497 79.7%
1850 17,049 127.4%
1860 24,960 46.4%
1870 41,105 64.7%
1880 58,291 41.8%
1890 84,655 45.2%
1900 118,421 39.9%
1910 145,986 23.3%
1920 179,754 23.1%
1930 195,311 8.7%
1940 193,694 −0.8%
1950 203,486 5.1%
1960 186,587 −8.3%
1970 176,572 −5.4%
1980 161,799 −8.4%
1990 169,759 4.9%
2000 172,648 1.7%
2010 181,045 4.9%
2020 206,518 14.1%

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Worcester had a population of 206,518, of which 104,911 (50.8%) were female and 101,607 (49.2%) were male. In terms of age, 81.0% were over 18 years old and 13.6% were over 65 years old; children under 5 made up 5.2% of the city's population.

In terms of race and ethnicity, Worcester's population as of 2020 was 67.7% White (including Hispanics), 13.0% Black or African American, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 7.2% Asian, <0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 5.2% from Some Other Race, and 6.4% from Two or More Races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 23.1% of the population (of whom nearly half were Puerto Rican). Non-Hispanic Whites were 54.4% of the population in 2020, down from 96.8% in 1970. 19.7% of Worcester's population are below the poverty threshold.

Worcester is known for its diversity and large immigrant population, with significant communities of Vietnamese, Brazilians, Albanians, Puerto Ricans, Ghanaians, Dominicans, and others. 22% of Worcester's population was born outside the United States in 2018.


Data is from the 2015–2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

Rank ZIP Code (ZCTA) Per capita
Population Number of
Massachusetts $43,761 $81,215 $103,126 6,850,553 2,617,497
Worcester County $37,574 $74,679 $96,393 824,772 309,951
1 01602 $36,792 $64,942 $87,092 22,900 9,498
2 01606 $35,354 $65,708 $82,592 19,896 8,159
United States $34,103 $62,843 $77,263 324,697,795 120,756,048
3 01609 $31,337 $45,992 $84,844 21,628 7,859
4 01604 $29,183 $55,665 $66,482 38,191 14,825
Worcester $27,884 $48,139 $63,893 185,143 71,595
5 01607 $25,319 $39,928 $66,875 8,167 3,702
6 01603 $24,415 $42,904 $56,630 19,731 7,327
7 01605 $23,003 $40,390 $46,641 28,533 10,673
8 01610 $18,452 $33,695 $39,928 22,023 7,729
9 01608 $17,598 $31,384 $30,077 4,471 1,916


US Navy 110316-N-2257C-002 Capt. Brian Walden, commanding officer and leader of the U.S. Navy Band, leads the Concert Band during a performance at
Mechanics Hall concert
Bankroft Tower
Bancroft Tower stands atop Bancroft Hill and was erected in 1900 by Stephen Salisbury III in honor of his childhood friendship with George Bancroft.

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

Elm Park Iron Bridge Worcester Massachusetts
The Elm Park Iron Bridge Worcester Massachusetts

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.

Turtle boy love statue
The Burnside Fountain, also known as the Turtle Boy statue is a local landmark located on the Worcester Common

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.


Temple Emanuel Worcester 2012 2
Temple Emanuel Sinai

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.

Sister cities

Worcester has the following sister cities:


By the mid-19th century Worcester was one of New England's largest manufacturing centers. The city's large industries specialized in machinery, wire production, and power looms. Although manufacturing has declined, the city still maintains large manufactures, like Norton Abrasives, which was bought by Saint-Gobain in 1990, Morgan Construction Company, since bought by Siemens and then bought by Japanese company PriMetals Technologies, and the David Clark Company. The David Clark Company pioneered aeronautical equipment including anti-gravity suits and noise attenuating headsets.

The Hanover Insurance Group

Services, particularly education and healthcare, make up a large portion of the city's economy. Worcester's many colleges and universities make higher education a considerable presence in the city's economy. Hanover Insurance was founded in 1852 and retains its headquarters in Worcester. Unum Insurance and Fallon Community Health Plan have offices in the city. Polar Beverages is the largest independent soft-drink bottler in the country and is in Worcester.

Umass Medical School Lazare Research Building
University of Massachusetts Medical School's Lazare Research Building

Worcester is home to the largest concentration of digital gaming students in the United States. The Memorial Auditorium, built as a tribute to World War I veterans of Worcester, is undergoing a renovation and may cater to these Digital Students as a future multimedia and digital center, in conjunction with the twelve Worcester colleges and universities.

As one of the top ten emerging hubs for tech startups, the city's biotechnology and technology industries have helped spur major expansions at both the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park hosts many innovative companies including Advanced Cell Technology and AbbVie.

Downtown Worcester used to boast major Boston retailers Filene's and Jordan Marsh as well Worcester's own department stores Barnard's and Denholm & McKay. Over time most retailers moved away from downtown and into the suburban Auburn Mall and Greendale Mall in North Worcester.

In 2010, the median household income was $61,212. Median family income was $76,485. The per capita income was $29,316. About 7.7% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.1% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over. In October 2013, Worcester was found to be the number five city for investing in a rental property.

In November 2016, the administration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a $2.3 million grant to the city to redevelop its downtown area for greater walkability. In January 2017, Baker signed into law a bill allowing 44 acres of unused state-owned land on the former Worcester State Hospital campus to be converted into a biomanufacturing industrial park. In November 2017, Baker's administration and the Worcester Business Development Corporation signed a land disposition agreement for the park.

Top employers

According to the city's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top ten employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 UMass Memorial Health Care 13,745
2 City of Worcester 5,473
3 University of Massachusetts Medical School 4,172
4 Reliant Medical Group 2,680
5 Saint Vincent Hospital 2,450
6 Hanover Insurance 1,800
7 Saint-Gobain 1,652
8 Seven Hills Foundation 1,445
9 Worcester Polytechnic Institute 1,283
10 Community Healthlink 1,200


Since 2021, Worcester has been the home of the Worcester Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. They play their home games at the newly constructed Polar Park.

Worcester 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 includes being the first African American and the second black athlete to be a world champion (Canadian boxer George Dixon, 1892). Taylor was nicknamed the Worcester Whirlwind by the local papers.

Holy Cross vs. Brown Football 2007
The College of the Holy Cross' football team (purple)

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.

In 2002, the Jesse Burkett Little League all-stars team went all the way to the Little League World Series. They made it to the US final before losing to Owensboro, Kentucky. Jesse Burkett covers the West Side area of Worcester, along with Ted Williams Little League.

The city hosts the Worcester Railers of the ECHL, which began play in October 2017. Prior to the Railers, the American Hockey League team Worcester Sharks played in Worcester from 2006 to 2015, before relocating to San Jose. The Sharks played at the DCU Center as a developmental team for the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks. The AHL was formerly represented by the Worcester IceCats from 1994 to 2005. The IceCats were chiefly affiliated with the St. Louis Blues. The city hosted the Worcester Blades of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) for one season, playing their 2018–19 home games in the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center for that league's final season.

Worcester now hosts the Massachusetts Pirates, an indoor football team in the Indoor Football League (where they are the defending United Bowl champions, which started in 2018 at the DCU Center. The city previously was home to the New England Surge of the defunct Continental Indoor Football League.

The city's former professional baseball team, the Worcester Tornadoes, started in 2005 and was a member of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball League. The team played at the Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field on the campus of the College of the Holy Cross and was not affiliated with any major league team. The Tornadoes won the 2005 Can-Am League title. The team's owner ran into financial difficulties, and the team disbanded after the 2012 season. The Worcester Bravehearts began play in 2014 as the local affiliate of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, and won the league championship in their inaugural season.

Candlepin bowling was invented in Worcester in 1880 by Justin White, an area bowling alley owner. The Worcester County Wildcats, part of the New England Football League, is a semi-pro football team, and play at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium.

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 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.


Durkin Administration Building Worcester, Irving St side
Durkin Administration Building

Primary and secondary education

Worcester Public Schools educate more than 25,000 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The system consists of 34 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 8 high schools, and several 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 Public-access television cable TV station on channel 11. In June 2015, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a $1.3 million grant to the Elm Park Community School.

Worcester Technical High School opened in 2006, replacing the old Worcester Vocational High School, or "Voke". The city's other public high schools include South High Community School, North High School, Doherty Memorial High School, Burncoat Senior High School, University Park Campus School, and Claremont Academy.

In 2014, Worcester Tech's graduating class was honored by having President Barack Obama as the speaker at their graduation ceremony.

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

One notable charter school in the city is Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School, which teaches kindergarten through 12th grade. It is granted status by Massachusetts as a Level 1 school. It is the one of 834 schools in the United States to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

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

Wpi boytonhall
Boynton Hall, 1868, designed by Worcester architect Stephen Earle, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Warner Memorial Theater, opened 1932, designed by Drew Eberson, Worcester Academy

Worcester is currently home to eight colleges and universities.

  • Assumption College is the fourth oldest Roman Catholic college in New England and was founded in 1904. At 175 acres (0.71 km2), it has the largest campus in Worcester.
  • Clark University was founded in 1887 as the first all-graduate school in the country; it now also educates undergraduates and is noted for its strengths in psychology and geography. Its first president was G. Stanley Hall, the founder of organized psychology as a science and profession, father of the child study movement, and founder of the American Psychological Association. Well-known professors include Albert A. Michelson, who won the first American Nobel Prize in 1902 for his measurement of light. Robert H. Goddard, a pioneering rocket scientist of the space age also studied and taught here, and, in his only visit to the United States, Sigmund Freud delivered his five famous "Clark Lectures" at the university. Clark offers one of only two programs leading to a Ph.D. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the other is offered by Gratz College.
  • College of the Holy Cross was founded in 1843 and is the oldest Roman Catholic college in New England and one of the oldest in the United States. Well-known graduates include Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Nobel laureate Joseph E. Murray; former Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins; Basketball Hall of Fame member Bob Cousy; attorney and professional sports' team owner Edward Bennett Williams; College Football Hall of Fame member Gordie Lockbaum; and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In 2013, Holy Cross was ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the nation's 25th highest-rated liberal arts college.
  • The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Worcester Campus houses the institution's Doctor of Optometry program, accelerated Doctor of Pharmacy, Post-Baccalaureate Bachelor's in Nursing; Master's in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner, Master's program New England School of Acupuncture, as well as the Master's program in Physician Assistant Studies for post-baccalaureate students.
  • Quinsigamond Community College was founded in 1963 and provides associate degree and professional certificate options to its 13,000 students per year. In addition to its main campus, students train and study at multiple program sites throughout Worcester as well as one in Marlborough and one in Southbridge.
  • 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".
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is a private research university, focusing on the instruction and research of technical arts and applied sciences. Founded in 1865, WPI was one of the United States' first engineering and technology universities and now has 14 academic departments with over 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts. Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, graduated from WPI in 1908 with a Bachelor of Science in physics.
  • Worcester State University is a public, 4-year college founded in 1874 as Worcester Normal School.

Becker College was a private college with campuses in Worcester and neighboring Leicester that closed at the end of the 2020–21 academic year. It was founded in Leicester in 1784 as Leicester Academy. The Worcester campus was founded in 1887, and the two campuses merged into Becker College in 1977. Becker's video game design program was consistently ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. and Canada. Clark University started an equivalent program, Becker School of Design & Technology, hiring the majority of the faculty from the original program at Becker College, and offering transfers to Becker students.

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 facilitates cooperation among the colleges and universities. One example of this being its inter-college shuttle bus and student cross registration. Worcester is also the home of Dynamy, a "residential internship program" in the United States. The organization was founded in 1969.



Worcester is served by several interstate highways. Interstate 290 (I-290) connects central Worcester to I-495 in Marlboro, the Mass Pike and I-395 in nearby Auburn and the Connecticut city of Norwich. I-190 links Worcester to Route 2 and the cities of Fitchburg and Leominster in northern Worcester County. The Pike can also be reached via a connecting segment of Route 146 from Providence.

Union Station November 2012
Union Station, 1911, designed by Watson & Huckel of Philadelphia

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 alternative 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. Route 20 is a coast-to-coast route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and is the longest road in the United States.

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. Train passengers may also connect to additional services such as the Vermonter line in Springfield.

Worcester Airport
Worcester Regional Airport

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. Worcester is also served by OurBus, Peter Pan Bus Lines and Greyhound Bus Lines, which operate out of Union Station.

Worcester Regional Airport (KORH), owned and operated by Massport since 2010, lies at the top of Tatnuck Hill, Worcester's highest point. The airport has two runways, their lengths are 7,000 ft (2,100 m) and 5,000 ft (1,500 m), and a $15.7 million terminal. The airport was serviced by numerous airlines from the 1950s through the 1990s, but since then has encountered years of spotty commercial service.


UMass-Worcester Medical School Hospital

In 1830, state legislation funded the creation of the Worcester State Insane Asylum Hospital (1833) and became one of the first new public asylums in the United States. Prior the Worcester State Insane Asylum hospital, all other treatment centers were funded by private philanthropists which neglected treatment for the poor.

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". The medical school is in the top quartile of medical schools nationally in research funding from the NIH and is home to highly respected scientists including a Nobel laureate, a Lasker Award recipient and multiple members of the National Academy of Sciences and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The school is closely affiliated with UMass Memorial Health Care, the clinical partner of the medical school, 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. Reliant Medical Group, formerly Fallon Clinic, is the largest private multi-specialty group in central Massachusetts with over 30 different specialties. It is affiliated with St. Vincent's Hospital in downtown Worcester. Reliant Medical Group 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.

Utilities and public services

Worcester has a municipally owned water supply. Its water filtration plant is located in Holden near two of the reservoirs. 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.

Notable people

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