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The New International Encyclopædia/Worcester (Massachusetts)

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WORCESTER. The second city of Massachusetts, and one of the two county-seats of Worcester County; 44 miles west-southwest of Boston and nearly the same distance north-northwest of Providence, R. I. (Map: Massachusetts, D 3). It has one union railroad station, occupied by the three railroads which have leased the local companies and now cover the larger part of New England: the New York Central, the New York, New Haven and Hartford, and the Boston and Maine. The street railway system reaches every part of the city and extends into nearly all the neighboring towns. A line was opened to Boston in 1903.

Worcester is mainly situated in a valley, surrounded by hills of moderate elevation, and is about 500 feet above sea level. There are ten public parks, comprising 400 acres. The largest are Lake Park, of 110 acres, and Elm Park, of 86 acres. Among the important edifices of a public or semi-public character are the new city hall, court house, art museum, public library, which contains 137,000 volumes, the post-office, State armory, State lunatic asylum, five hospitals, and the buildings of the Women's Club, the American Antiquarian Society, the Worcester Society of Antiquity, the Young Men's Christian Association, the Young Women's Christian Association, and the State Mutual Assurance Company. The public school system includes three high schools. Worcester is the seat of Clark University (q.v.), the College of the Holy Cross (see Holy Cross, College of the), the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (q.v.), a State normal school, and the Worcester Academy and the Highland Military Academy.

Worcester is preëminently a manufacturing city. The largest establishment in the city employs more than 4000 men in the making of every kind of wire. The Crompton and Knowles Loom Works employ 2500 men. Some of the other well-known manufactories are those of the Norton Emery Wheel Company, the Plunger and the Standard Elevator companies, the U. S. Envelope Company, the Worcester and the Globe Corset companies, the Coes Wrench Company, the Whittall Carpet Mills, the Harrington and Richardson Arms Company, and the Bradley Car Works. Besides these there are many smaller establishments for the manufacture of firearms, boots and shoes, clothing, food preparations, leather, machinery, machinists' tools, woven-wire goods, and woolens. The government is vested in a mayor, elected annually, a board of nine aldermen elected at large, with minority representation, and a board of councilmen, three from each of the eight wards. These two boards constitute the City Council, and elect the heads of departments and have power to confirm or reject nominations made by the mayor to either board. The amounts paid for the support of the principal departments in 1902 were: for schools, $552,300; for the fire department, $194,300; for the police department, $153,600; for streets, $536,000; for the public library, $50,400; for the support of the poor, $78,800. The net funded debt is $5,682,887.92; and the valuation of taxable property is $116,211,511. The water-works are owned by the city and have cost $3,901,118. The sewerage system now includes 162.75 miles of sewers. It has cost $5,341,534.

The population in 1800 was 2411; in 1820, 2962; in 1850, 17,049; in 1870, 41,405; in 1880, 58,291; in 1890, 84,655; and in 1900, 118,421. More than half of the population in 1900 was of foreign parentage, principally Irish, Swedish, and Canadian. More than 40 different nationalities were represented.

A settlement called ‘Quansigamog Plantations’ was made here in 1673, but on the outbreak of King Philip's War in 1675 it was abandoned. In 1684 the place was resettled and called Worcester (from Worcester, England), but was again virtually abandoned on account of difficulties with the Indians in 1702. The permanent settlement dates from 1713. In 1722 Worcester was incorporated as a town, and in 1848 it was chartered as a city. In 1775 Isaiah Thomas (q.v.), the publisher, removed hither from Boston, and from 1790 to 1800 Worcester was one of the most important publishing centres in the United States. Consult: Hurd, History of Worcester County (Philadelphia, 1889); Rice (ed.), Worcester in 1898 (Worcester, 1899).