Worcester was first settled by the English in 1673, but the modest settlement of six or seven houses was burned to the ground during King Philip's War on December 2, 1675, and the English settlers were either killed or driven off. The town was subsequently resettled and was incorporated in 1684. On September 10 of that year, Daniel Gookin and others petitioned to have the town's name officially changed from "Quinsigamond" to "Worcester". However, its inhabitants were still vulnerable to attack, and some, such as Samuel Lenorson Jr., were taken hostage by natives during the 1690s. When Queen Anne's War started in 1702, the town was again abandoned by all of its English inhabitants except for Diggory Sargent. Sargent was later tomahawked, as was his wife, who was too weak to make the journey on foot to Canada. Their children were taken to Canada and survived.
In 1713 Worcester was re-settled for the third time, permanently, by Jonas Rice, whose farm was located atop Union Hill. Named after the historic city of Worcester, UK, Worcester [= War + cester camp] was incorporated 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.
As political tensions rose in the months before the American Revolution, Worcester served as a center of revolutionary activity. Because it was an important munitions depot, Worcester was targeted for attack by Loyalist general Thomas Gage. However, officers sent secretly to inspect the munitions depot were discovered by Patriot Timothy Bigelow. General Gage then decided to move on to the second munitions depot, in Lexington. In 1775 determining that Boston was too dangerous, Isaiah Thomas moved his newspaper, the Massachusetts Spy, to Worcester. The Massachusetts Spy was one of the few papers published continuously during the Revolution. On July 14, 1776, Isaiah Thomas, intercepting the packet from Philadelphia to Boston, performed the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence ever in front of Worcester City Hall. In 1812, Thomas founded the American Antiquarian Society, a research library holding nearly two thirds of the items known to have been printed in America from 1639, through 1820. The Society's holdings from 1821 to 1876 compare favorably with those of the Library of Congress and other major research libraries.
In 1778, a scandal unfolded in Worcester: 32-year-old Bathsheba Spooner arranged the murder of her husband by three Revolutionary soldiers. The first woman executed in the new American republic, Spooner was hanged by a community that was fearful of civil disorder. Trapped in an abusive marriage, she declared on the scaffold that she "justly died; that she hoped to see her Christian friends she left behind her, in Heaven, but that none of them might go there in the ignominious manner that she did." Her father, Gen. Timothy Ruggles of Hardwick, arranged her unhappy marriage, and continues to be honored as a Revolutionary War hero.
Known for innovation in commerce, industry, education, and social thought, Worcester and the nearby Blackstone Valley claim their historic role as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Ichabod Washburn, an early industrialist, developed a process for extruding steel wire. His company, Washburn & Moen, founded in 1831, was "the company that 'barbed-wire fenced the American West,' and held the battle lines during the First World War. In 1840, Loring Coes invented the monkey wrench. In the 1850s, George Crompton and LJ & FB Knowles founded companies that manufactured the textile looms that fueled the Industrial Revolution. Another Worcester innovator, physician Russel Howes, invented the first envelope folding machine in 1856. His machine could produce 25,000 envelopes in ten hours, using three operators.
Women found economic opportunity in Worcester. An early female entrepreneur, Esther Howland, designed and manufactured the first American valentine cards in 1847. Women also found opportunity in The Royal Worcester Corset Factory, a company that provided employment opportunity for 1200 women; it was the largest employer of women in the United States in 1908.
An innovative form of affordable housing appeared in the 19th century: the three-decker. Hundreds of these houses were built, affording spacious, comfortable apartments for a homeowner and two tenants. Many extended families settled in these houses, developing strong, safe, and stable neighborhoods for the city's factory workers.
Several entrepreneurs brought growth to Worcester's economy during this period. John Jeppson, a skilled potter, emigrated from Hoganas, Sweden to Worcester in search of a better life. In Worcester he founded Norton Company, now Saint-Gobain, the world's largest manufacturer and supplier of performance engineered abrasives for technical manufacturing and commercial applications as well as general household and automotive refinishing. Jeppson created economic opportunity for the thousands of his countrymen who followed him to Worcester and for others, as well.
Another innovator was George Fuller, an inventor and philanthropist, who developed a heat-treating process crucial to developing steel strong enough to be used in train couplings and the first automobile crankshafts. His company, Wyman-Gordon, has been a leading manufacturer of machine parts.
Charles Palmer, another innovator, received the first patent (1891) for a lunch wagon, or diner. He built his "fancy night cafes" and "night lunch wagons" in the Worcester area until 1901. After building a lunch wagon for himself in 1888, Thomas Buckley decided to manufacture lunch wagons in Worcester. Buckley was very successful and became known for his "White House Cafe" wagons. In 1906 Philip Duprey and Irving Stoddard established the Worcester Lunch Car Company, which shipped 'diners' all over the Eastern Seaboard.
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.
In December 1999, the Worcester Cold Storage Fire received national attention. Two homeless people, deemed mentally disabled, accidentally knocked over a lit candle in an abandoned cold storage warehouse, igniting a conflagration. Six firefighters lost their lives in an attempt to rescue the homeless people. Less than two years before the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001, this fire was one of the worst firefighting tragedies of the late 20th-century. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and other local and national dignitaries attended services and a memorial program.
Worcester is located at (42.268843, -71.803774). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 38.6 square miles (99.9 km²), of which, 37.6 square miles (97.3 km²) of it is land and 1.0 square miles (2.6 km²) of it (2.59%) is water. Worcester is bordered by the towns of Auburn, Grafton, Holden, Leicester, Millbury, Paxton, Shrewsbury, and West Boylston.
The Blackstone River passes through Worcester. Its headwaters are found in Institute Park. The river courses underground through the center of the city, and emerges at the foot of College Hill, flowing through Quinsigamond Village and into Millbury. Water Street, originally the Blackstone Canal, is emerging as the center of the " Canal District" Legend has it that the city sits atop seven hills: Airport Hill, Bancroft Hill, Belmont Hill (Bell Hill), Grafton Hill, Green Hill, Pakachoag Hill and Vernon Hill. Actually, there are more than seven hills. Worcester's lakes include:Lake Quinsigamond, the site of rowing competitions, Indian Lake, Bell Pond, and Coes Pond.
Worcester counts within its borders over 1,200 acres (5 km²) of publicly owned property. Elm Park, purchased in 1854 and laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, was not only the first public park in the city (after the 8 acre (32,000 m²) City Common from 1669) but also one of the first public parks in the U.S. Both the City Common and Elm Park are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 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. Other parks include: Newton Hill, East Park, Morgan Park, Shore Park, Crompton Park, and University Park.
In June 2002, city and state leaders dedicated the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Green Hill Park grounds.
|Worcester Tornadoes||Can-Am, Baseball||Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field||2005||1|
|Worcester Sharks||AHL, Ice hockey||DCU Center||2006||0|
|New England Surge||CIFL, Indoor Football||DCU Center||2007||0|
|Worcester County Wildcats||NEFL, Football||Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium||2004||0|
Lake Quinsigamond is home to the Eastern Sprints, a premier rowing event in the the United States. Competitive rowing teams first came to Lake Quinsigamond in 1857. Finding the long, narrow lake ideal for such crew meets, avid rowers established boating clubs on the lake's shores, the first being the Quinsigamond Boating Club. More boating clubs and races followed, and soon many colleges (local, national, and international) held regattas, such as the Eastern Sprints, on the lake. Beginning in 1895, local high schools held crew races on the lake. In 1952, the lake played host to the National Olympic rowing trials.
The Worcester Tennis Club on Sever Street is the second oldest tennis club in New England. It features natural red clay courts.
Worcester has a long storied past with sports teams and sporting events.
Marshall Walter ("Major") Taylor (November 26, 1878–June 21, 1932) was an American cyclist who won the world one-mile (1.6 km) track cycling championship in 1899, 1900, and 1901. Taylor was the second black world champion in any sport, after boxer George Dixon.
The Worcester Ruby Legs, an early 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 not to have an attached nickname. (There are some references throughout major league history books to the team being called the "Worcester Brown Stockings", "Brownies", and "Ruby Legs". However, the Worcester Telegram sportswriter Bill Ballou, in conducting thorough research on the team for years, has found no contemporary reference to any of those nicknames.) The team's home field, the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds 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. Other professional teams that have moved on from the city include the New England Blazers, a Major League Lacrosse team that played at the Worcester Centrum during the 1980s, the Bay State Bombardiers of the Continental Basketball Association, who played in the Worcester Auditorium from 1984 to 1986, and the Worcester Ice Cats, an American Hockey League franchise and developmental team for the National Hockey League's St. Louis Blues who played in the DCU Center (originally Worcester Centrum) from 1994 to 2005.
Currently, Worcester is home to three professional sports franchises. The Worcester Sharks play in the American Hockey League, a developmental team for the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks. The season 2006-2007 was the team's inaugural season. The team replaced the Worcester IceCats when the franchise moved to Peoria, Illinois, in 2005.
Professional baseball in Worcester is represented by the Worcester Tornadoes baseball team, which played its first season in 2005. Though not affiliated with any Major League Baseball team, the Tornadoes currently play their games at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field on the campus of the College of the Holy Cross and are a member of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball League. The team finished its inaugural season by winning the Can-Am championship. The team 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.
Indoor football returned to the city in April 2007. The New England Surge, a member of the Continental Indoor Football League, play their home games in the DCU Center. The team replaced an Arena Football League team called the Massachusetts Marauders which played briefly in 1994.
In 2002, Worcester's Jesse Burkett Little League baseball team competed in the Little League World Series's U.S. Final. Though the Burkett team lost to the Little League All-Stars from Louisville, Kentucky, its second-place finish was the best in the history of Massachusetts Little League baseball.
Worcester's colleges have had long histories and many notable achievements in collegiate sports:
The Worcester Rugby Football Club (WRFC), a recognized member of the United States Rugby Football Union (USARFU), currently competes in the New England Rugby Football Union (NERFU) Division I league. The club was founded in 1979 by Rob Anderson, Peter Coz, and Mike Minty; joined NERFU in 1980, and was invited to join USARFU Division I league after a very successful 1999 fall season. WRFC is one of the top men's rugby clubs in the U.S., having reached the 2006 Men's Division 1 Club Final Four, before losing to eventual national champion Santa Monica in a close 20-13 match.
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. The Centrum (now DCU Center) was home to the Virginia Slims of New England women's tennis tournament for a few years in the late 1980s. Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, and Steffi Graf were some of the outstanding players who participated in the tournaments. Various boxing title bouts have been fought in Worcester. The NCAA National Division I hockey and Division I basketball early rounds have been contested here. Charlie's Surplus Road Race fielded many world-class runners before ending in the early 1990s. Candlepin bowling was invented in Worcester in 1880 by Justin White, an area bowling alley owner.
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 also still serves as an alternate route. Route 146, the Worcester-Providence Highway, connects the cities. Route 20 touches the southernmost tip of Worcester. It 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 western terminus the Framingham/Worcester 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, serving the Lake Shore Limited from Boston to Chicago, Illinois. Train passengers may also connect to additional services such as the Vermonter line in Springfield.
The Worcester Regional Transit Authority, or WRTA, manages the municipal bus system. Buses operate intracity as well as connect Worcester to surrounding central Massachusetts communities. The WRTA also operates a shuttle bus between member institutions of the Colleges of Worcester Consortium. The Worcester Bus Station was recently relocated to Worcester Intermodal Center at Union Station. From here, Peter Pan Bus Lines (based in nearby Springfield) services other points in the Northeast.
The Worcester Regional Airport, managed by Massport for the city, lies at the top of Worcester's highest hill. On September 4, 2008, Direct Air announced they will begin serving Worcester to Orlando, Florida, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Punta Gorda, Florida in the Spring of 2009. Currently, they're the only commercial service serving the city. The low-cost carrier Skybus Airlines located there to service air travelers from Worcester, Springfield, and Hartford. Skybus Airlines ceased operations in April 2008 due to rising jet fuel costs and a slowing economic environment.
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 school also operates the UMass Memorial Health Care, the clinical arm of the teaching hospital, which has expanded its locations all over central Massachusetts. St. Vincent Hospital at Worcester City Hospital in the downtown area rounds out Worcester's primary care facilities. Fallon Clinic, presently the largest private multi-specialty group in central Massachusetts, includes St. Vincent's Hospital in its over 30 locations. Fallon Clinic was the creator of Fallon Community Health Plan, a now independent HMO based in Worcester, and one of the largest health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in the state.
Worcester has a municipally owned water supply. Sewage disposal services are provided by the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement District, which services Worcester as well as some surrounding communities. National Grid USA is the exclusive distributor of electric power to the city, though due to deregulation, customers now have a choice of electric generation companies. Natural gas is distributed by NSTAR Gas; only commercial and industrial customers may choose an alternate natural gas supplier. Verizon, successor to New England Telephone, NYNEX, and Bell Atlantic, is the primary wired telephone service provider for the area. Phone service is also available from various national wireless companies. Cable television is available from Charter Communications, with Broadband Internet access also provided, while a variety of DSL providers and resellers are able to provide broadband Internet over Verizon-owned phone lines.