Founded in 1722, Worcester, Massachusetts, with a population of approximately 175,000, is the second-largest city in New England. Worcester is known as the "Heart of the Commonwealth" and is renowned for its wealth of fine mill era Victorian architecture. This historic city is home to a diverse community with an extensive arts scene.
An hour away from Boston, Mass., Springfield, Mass., Providence, R.I. and Hartford, Conn., Worcester is at the crossroads of several major routes, including the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), Interstates 290 and 395, and with Routes 9 and 146.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Worcester has a diversified economical landscape. Initially, Worcester's economy was dependant on textile, shoes and clothing companies. The city has transformed itself into a leader in advanced manufacturing, information technology, biotechnology, health care and medical research.
Major companies that have headquarters or divisions in the city are Advanced Cell Technology, Abbott Laboratories, Morgan Construction, Wright Line, Saint-Gobain, Polar Beverages, Hanover Insurance and David Clark Company.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
The city accommodates about 70,720 houses with an occupancy ratio of 95 percent. Out of these, a little less than 38,000 are renter-occupied and about 29,040 are owner-occupied.
Worcester has various neighborhoods in and around the city:
- East Side: Long the home of the Worcester's mill and factory workers, the East Side features culturally diverse neighborhoods, great restaurants and unique festivals. This area includes Green Hill Park, Worcester's largest public park, and Broad Meadow Brook, a 500-acre Audubon Sanctuary.
- West Side: Beautiful Victorian and Queen Anne homes, manicured lawns, and quaint commercial squares make the West Side an attractive neighborhood for the families driven west by Boston's expensive housing market and finding employment in Worcester's booming medical and educational industries.
- North Worcester: This neighborhood is home to the smokestacks and warehouses of the Saint-Gobain plant, one of the world's largest abrasives manufacturers. Gold Star Boulevard, a commercial street that runs through the city's northern region, offers a day at the beach at Indian Lake or a night on the town.
- South Worcester: Home to the College of the Holy Cross and Clark University, South Worcester accommodates a combination of urban living and campus life. Once the site of Worcester's weaving industry, today South Worcester's many warehouses and triple-deckers are being redeveloped into loft housing and business complexes.
- EcoTarium: The Worcester EcoTarium is a unique museum that encourages visitors to experience the natural world up close. This indoor-outdoor facility features a digital planetarium, nature trails, train rides, and wildlife. Visitors can view a collection of animals ranging from a large variety of birds to polar bears and turtles. Children can learn the basics of caring for these and other animals. The EcoTarium hosts a number of special events throughout the year and is available for parties and other private events.
- Higgins Armory Museum: The Higgins Armory Museum has a collection of more than 5,000 objects related to arms and armor. The only museum of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, it is a favorite with Worcester residents and tourists alike. Visitors can enjoy the building's stunning art deco architecture and view its collection, which includes helmets from ancient Greece, Renaissance armor, and many more surprising treasures.
The city of Worcester prides itself on its parks. It currently has approximately 495 acres of active recreation space spread out over no less than 17 parks. Some notable Worcester parks include:
- Worcester Commons: Originally established as a common space in 1669, Worcester Commons is on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in the heart of downtown Worcester, the Common is a favorite lunch hour destination for the city's workers.
- Elm Park: Also included on the National Register of Historic Places, Elm Park is known for its historic bridges. Its scenic landscape makes it a popular location for weddings. The park offers recreational facilities, including a playground, hiking trails, tennis and basketball courts, and ice skating in the winter. Visitors can also enjoy the park's picnic area.
- Green Hill Golf Course: Green Hill is a public, par-72 golf course. Designed by Ted Robinson, the course has 18 holes and is 6,487 yards long.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Worcester Art Museum: The Worcester Art Museum features an impressive permanent 35,000-piece collection that includes both Western and Asian Art. It is open Wednesday through Sunday.
- Mechanics Hall: Included on the National Register of Historic Places, Mechanics Hall, built in 1857, has a reputation as one of the world's premier concert halls. Celebrities from all over the globe have visited the hall, and it is much sought after as a location for private events, musical performances, and meetings, and as a site for musical recordings. The facility hosts a wide variety of events each year and is home to a recording studio.
- Tuckerman Hall: The home of the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra, Tuckerman Hall is a popular location for performances, weddings, and corporate events. Dating from 1902, the hall was once known as one of the nation's ten-best facilities. It features a 550-seat main hall and a 200-seat circular auditorium; it is known for its unique architecture.
- Worcester Foothills Theatre: The Worcester Foothills Theatre was been recognized by the New England Theatre Conference with a Regional Theatre Award in 1996. The facility, which seats 349, offers eight shows each season. It is also home to the Foothills Children's Theatre, which performs throughout the school year. The theater also houses a costume shop.
- Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts: Housed in the renovated Poli Palace Theatre, the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts offers a season of Broadway tours, family-friendly performances, and nationally recognized artists.
- Worchester Palladium: The Worcester Palladium has attracted a wide variety of well-known performing artists, such as 50 Cent, Bob Dylan, and B. B. King, to its general admission shows.
- stART on the Street: Held in September each year, the stART on the Street festival features more than 250 artists, live performances, children's activities, and a food court. This free festival attracts more than 20,000 attendees each year.
- Worcester Music Festival: Dating from 1858, the Worcester Musical Festival is the oldest musical festival in the United States and is one of the city's oldest traditions. Presented by Music Worcester, the event has been recognized by the Library of Congress as part of its Local Legacies Project.
- New England Summer Nationals: The New England Summer Nationals annual festival is the largest automotive event on the East Coast. It features a car show, live music, stunt performances, and the Miss Summer Nationals beauty pageant.
Worcester is served by the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, a daily newspaper.
Worcester is known as an academic center. Its first college, the College of the Holy Cross, was established in 1843. Today the city is home to numerous institutions of higher education, including:
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- Worcester State College
- Clark University
- Assumption College
- Becker College
- University of Massachusetts Medical Center
- Quinsigamond Community College
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Worcester is home to a number of teams and sporting events, which include:
- Worcester Sharks: The Worcester Sharks are an American Hockey League team housed in the DCU Center.
- Worcester Tornadoes: The Worcester Tornadoes are a professional baseball team that plays at the Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.
- New England Surge: This team is a member of the Continental Indoor Football League. Games are held at the DCU Center.
- Eastern Sprints: Held in Worcester on Lake Quinsigamond each May, this event is a rowing competition for the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC). This prestigious tournament always draws a large crowd with both men's and women's contests.