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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Worcester (Massachusetts)

WORCESTER, a city and one of the shire towns of Worcester co., Massachusetts, on the Boston and Albany railroad, 40 m. W. S. W. of Boston; pop. in 1763, 1,478; in 1800, 2,411; in 1820, 2,962; in 1830, 4,173; in 1840, 7,497; in 1850, 17,049; in 1860, 24,960; in 1870, 41,105, of whom 11,946 were foreigners, including 1,963 natives of British America and 8,389 of Ireland; in 1875, 49,265. The city has an area of about 36 sq. m., and is situated partly in a valley and partly on the slopes of the surrounding hills. It is regularly laid out, with wide and pleasant streets. Its principal business thoroughfare, Main street, is a broad straight avenue 2 m. long, shaded with fine trees. Near the centre of the city is a spacious common, containing a soldiers' monument by Randolph Rogers, and a monument to Timothy Bigelow, a revolutionary officer.

AmCyc Worcester (Massachusetts) - Soldiers' Monument.jpg

Soldiers' Monument.

The houses are generally of brick. Among the public buildings are the two county court houses, adjacent to each other, the county jail, the city hall, the high school building, mechanics' hall, seating 3,000, and the union depot. The Worcester agricultural society has grounds comprising nearly 25 acres, on which are a spacious hall and a trotting park. The city is lighted with gas, and has water works and a good fire department. Besides the Boston and Albany line, there are railroads extending to Fitchburg, to Providence, R. I., to Norwich, Conn., and other points, viz.: the Boston, Barre, and Gardner; Boston, Hartford, and Erie; Providence and Worcester; and Worcester and Nashua. There is a street railroad company. Worcester is noted for the extent and variety of its manufactures. These include boots and shoes, agricultural implements, rolling mill and foundery products, machinery, machinists' tools, stone ware, jewelry, carpets, belting, boilers, machine needles and pegging awls, wire work, firearms, machine screws and cards, cotton thread, yarn, &c., copperas, spindles, spokes, blankets, felt goods, cotton cards, card clothing, drills, files, cement pipe, water meters, horse collars, musical instruments, and nails. The manufacture of boots and shoes is the most extensive branch, employing 28 firms and about 1,500 hands and producing goods annually of the value of about $2,500,000. There are eight national banks, with an aggregate capital of $2,350,000; four savings banks, with more than $11,000,000 deposits; a safe deposit and trust company with a capital of $200,000; three fire insurance companies, and one life insurance company. The principal charitable institutions are the city hospital, the home for aged females, and tho state lunatic hospital. The last was opened in 1833. The buildings accommodate 300 patients A new site has been purchased E. of the city and a building is in course of erection there to accommodate 500 patients. The city has excellent free public schools, including a classical and high school, 22 graded schools, 10 suburban schools, 5 evening schools, and an evening drawing school. Other important institutions of learning are the Worcester academy (Baptist), the Oread institute for young ladies, the Highland military academy, a state normal school, the Worcester county free institute of industrial science, and the college of the Holy Cross. The institute of science was founded by John Boynton of Templeton in 1865, who gave it $100,000 on condition that the city should erect suitable buildings; it has also received $50,000 from the state and $200,000 from Stephen Salisbury of Worcester. Instruction is free to residents of the county. It occupies a fine building on a hill in the N. portion of the city. The institute was opened in 1868, and in 1875-'6 had 12 instructors, 99 students, and 83 graduates. The regular course is three years. A machine shop, costing about $80,000, given by the late Ichabod Washburn, is attached to the institution. The college of the Holy Cross stands on high ground in the S. portion of the city. It was founded by the Rt. Rev. B. J. Fenwick, Roman Catholic bishop of Boston, in 1843, and given by him to the fathers of the society of Jesus, and was incorporated in 1865. The full course comprises seven years, of which three are given to the preparatory and junior classes, and four to the senior (in general corresponding to the four classes of other colleges). In 1874-'5 there were 12 instructors and 177 students; number of volumes in library, 11,000. The American antiquarian society was founded here in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas; it has a library of about 50,000 volumes and a valuable cabinet of antiquities, and its funds amount to $80,000. It occupies a fire-proof building near the court houses. The free public library was founded in 1859; it contains 37,500 volumes, of which 17,000 are for reference and the remainder for circulation. A reading room containing the principal newspapers and periodicals is connected with it. In the same building is the library (4,000 volumes) of the Worcester district medical society. The Worcester county law library association has a library of 3,000 volumes in the South court house. The Worcester county mechanics' association has a reading room and a library of 4,800 volumes, and maintains during the winter a course of lectures and an evening school of mechanical drawing. The Worcester lyceum and natural history society has a fine cabinet, and maintains a course of lectures. The Worcester county horticultural society has a fine hall, and a library of 1,200 volumes, and holds annual exhibitions. Three daily and four weekly (one French) newspapers are published. There are 38 religious societies, viz.: 4 Baptist, 8 Congregational, 1 Disciples of Christ, 2 Episcopal, 1 Friends', 7 Methodist, 5 Roman Catholic, 1 Second Advent, 1 Swedenborgian, 2 Unitarian, and 1 Universalist.—Worcester was permanently settled in 1713, and incorporated as a town in 1722, and as a city in 1848. A settlement, called the “village of Quonsigamog,” was begun here in 1676, but was broken up by Indians.