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WALTHAM, a city of Middlesex county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on both banks of the Charles river, about 10 m. W. of Boston. Pop. (1890) 18,707; (1900) 23,481, of whom 6695 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 27,834. Waltham is served by the Boston & Maine railway, and by electric interurban lines connecting with Boston, Lowell, Lexington, Watertown and Newton. It is situated on a series of rugged hills rising from the river. Prospect Hill (482 ft.) commands a magnificent view. A tract of 100 acres, comprising this hill and an adjoining elevation, has been set aside as a public park by the city; and there are four playgrounds (total area, 623/4 acres) and, in the centre of the city, a large common. In Waltham are some 43 acres of the Beaver Brook Reservation and 40 acres of the Charles River Reservation of the Metropolitan park system; in the former are the famous “Waverley Oaks.” The Gore Mansion, erected towards the close of the 18th century by Christopher Gore (1758–1829), a prominent lawyer and Federalist leader, governor of Massachusetts in 1809–1810, and a member of the United States Senate in 1814–1817, is a stately country house surrounded by extensive grounds in which are fine old oaks and elms. Above the city the Charles river is famous as a canoeing ground, and there is an annual canoe carnival between Waltham and Riverside, one of the most popular resorts in the neighbourhood of Boston. The city has a good public library (about 35,000 volumes in 1910). Its principal buildings are a state armoury, and the First Parish (Unitarian), Christ (Protestant Episcopal), the Swedenborgian, the First Baptist and Beth Eden (Baptist) churches. Waltham is the seat of the Massachusetts School for the Feeble-minded (established in Boston in 1848), the first institution of its sort in the country, and of the Waltham Training School for Nurses (1885), the first school to undertake the training of nurses for “day nursing” (outside of hospital wards) on the present plan, of the Convent of Notre Dame and the Notre Dame Normal Training School (Roman Catholic), of the New Church School (New Jerusalem Church), of two business schools, and the Waltham Horological School (1870), a school for practical watchmaking and repairing; here also are the Waltham Hospital (1885), the Baby Hospital (1902) and the Leland Home (1879) for aged women. In 1905 the city’s factory product was valued at $7,149,697 (21.4% more than in 1900). The largest single establishment was that of the American Waltham Watch Company, which has here the largest watch factory in the world, with an annual production of about a million watches. Watch and clock materials were valued at $123,885 in 1905. In 1905 cotton goods were second in value to watches; and third were foundry and machine-shop products ($516,067) Other products are automobiles, wagons and carriages, bicycles, canoes, organs and enamelled work.

The first white settlement was made about 1640 and in 1691 became the Middle Precinct of Watertown. In 1738 the township of Waltham was separately organized. At various times it was increased in area, part of Cambridge being added in 1755 and part of Newton in 1849. In 1859 one of its precincts was set off to form part of the new township of Belmont. In 1884 Waltham was chartered as a city. The first power mill for the manufacture of cotton cloth in the United States was established here in 1814 as an experiment by the company which built the mills and the city of Lowell. Waltham became an important manufacturing city in the decade before the American Civil War, when the company which in 1853 made the first American machine-made watches moved hither from Roxbury and established the Waltham watch industry. This watch company, before the establishment of the U.S. Observatory at Washington and the transmission thence of true time throughout the country by electric telegraph, had an elaborate observatory for testing and setting its watches.