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Worcester, Massachusetts
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Worcester, Massachusetts

Worcester is a city in Worcester County in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States of America. Its population in the 2000 census was 172,648; a July 1, 2002 estimate put the city's population at 174,962. Its ZIP code is 016xx. It and Fitchburg are the county seats of Worcester County6.

In terms of population, Worcester is the third-largest city in New England, behind Providence, Rhode Island and Boston.

"Worcester" is correctly pronounced with two syllables, not three: \\wUst@r\\ (SAMPA). The first syllable of "Worcester" is stressed and usually rhymes with the first syllable of "pussycat"; however, some residents pronounce "Worcester" to rhyme with "mister." (The speakers in that group have the non-rhotic accent common in New England, and so would say \\"w1st6\\ ("WIH-stuh").)

Table of contents
1 History
2 City government
3 Geography
4 Demographics
5 Some famous Worcesterites
6 Landmarks
7 Education
8 Professional sports teams
9 External links


Worcester was first settled in 1673 and was officially incorporated in 1684. The settlement was established as a town in 1722, and chartered as a city in 1848.

City government

Worcester is governed by a combined City Manager/City Council type of government. A board of elected councilors acts as the legislative body, and the council-appointed manager handles the traditional mayoral functions.

City councilors can run as either a representative of a city district, or as an at-large candidate. The candidate who receives the greatest number of votes becomes the city mayor (unless the candidate specifically refuses to hold the post). Currently, there are 11 councilors: 6 At-Large and 5 district.

Worcester's first charter, which went into effect in 1848, established a Mayor/Bicameral form of government. Together, the two chambers -- the 11-member Board of Aldermen and the 30-member Common Council -- were vested with complete legislative powers. The mayor handled all administrative departments, though appointments to those departments had to be approved by the two-chamber City Council.

Seeking to replace the old, outdated charter, Worcester voters in November 1947 approved of a change to Plan E municipal government. In effect from January 1949 until November 1985, this charter (as outlined in chapter 43 of the Massachusetts General Laws) established City Council/City Manager government. This type of governance, with modifications, has survived to the present day.

Initially, Plan E government in Worcester was organized as a 9-member Council (all at-large), a ceremonial Mayor elected from the Council by the Councilors, and a Council-appointed City Manager. The Manager oversees the daily administration of the city, makes all appointments to city offices, and can be removed at any time by a majority vote of the Council. The Mayor chairs the City Council and the School Committee, and does not have the power to veto any vote.

In 1983, Worcester voters again decided to change the city charter. This "Home Rule" charter (named for the method of adoption of the charter) is similar to Plan E, the major changes being to the structure of the Council and the election of the mayor. The 9-member Council became 11, 6 At-Large and 1 from each city district. The Mayor is chosen by popular election, but must run as an At-Large Councilor.


Worcester is located at 42°16'8" North, 71°48'14" West (42.268843, -71.803774)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 99.9 km² (38.6 mi²). 97.3 km² (37.6 mi²) of it is land and 2.6 km² (1.0 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.59% water.

The Blackstone River passes through Worcester, but is almost completely covered as it passes through. Water Street (the traditional hub of Worcester's Jewish population, famed for its bakeries), and the appearance of the river just south of the city, are the only indications of its existence. Just as in Rome, Italy, there are seven very steep hills that distinguish its topography: Airport Hill, Bancroft Hill, Belmont Hill (Bell Hill), Grafton Hill, Green Hill, Pakachoag Hill and Vernon Hill. Lake Quinsigamond, on its eastern border, is frequently the site of rowing competitions.


As of the census of 2000, there are 172,648 people, 67,028 households, and 39,211 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,774.8/km² (4,596.5/mi²). There are 70,723 housing units at an average density of 727.0/km² (1,882.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 77.11% White, 6.89% African American, 0.45% Native American, 4.87% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 7.24% from other races, and 3.39% from two or more races. 15.15% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 67,028 households out of which 29.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.3% are married couples living together, 15.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 41.5% are non-families. 33.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.41 and the average family size is 3.11.

The population is spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 88.7 males.

The median household income is $35,623, and the median family income is $42,988. Males have a median income of $36,190 versus $28,522 for females. The per capita income is $18,614. 17.9% of the population and 14.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 24.6% are under the age of 18 and 11.6% are 65 or older.

Some famous Worcesterites


Worcester counts within its borders over 1200 acres of publicly owned property. Elm Park, purchased in 1854, was not only the first public park in the city (after the 8-acre Common, 1669) but also one of the first of its kind in the nation. 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 of Green Hill area land to the city, making Green Hill Park the largest in the city. In June 2002, city and state leaders dedicated the state's Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Green Hill Park grounds.

Worcester houses the American Antiquarian Society; Higgins Armory, the largest collection of arms and armor in the western hemisphere; the Worcester Art Museum, the Ecotarium, and the Worcester Centrum Centre.


Colleges and universities

The city is known for its numerous institutions of higher learning, including

Many of these institutions participate in the Colleges of Worcester Consortium. This independent non-profit collegiate association operates and facilitates cooperation among the colleges and universities, for example, through its inter-college shuttle bus and student cross registration. The consortium includes all academic institutions in Worcester County, whether within or outside the city boundaries. Members not listed above include Anna Maria College, Atlantic Union College, Nichols College, and Tufts Veterinary School.

Preparatory schools

Worcester Academy and the Bancroft School, two well-known preparatory schools, are located in Worcester.

The Highland Military Academy opened in 1856 but is now closed.

Public high schools

The City of Worcester has five public high schools, Doherty Memorial High School, Burncoat High School, North High School\, South High Community School, and Worcester Vocational High School.

The Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science, a public magnet school for science and mathematics founded in 1992, is located on the campus of WPI.

Professional sports teams

Worcester does not have a long history with professional sports franchises. The only currently active pro team in the city is the Worcester IceCats. Talk about bringing a minor-league baseball team to the city has surfaced in recent months, but as of June 2004, there has been little effort to either develop a team or to construct a suitable stadium.

Worcester IceCats

The Worcester IceCats is an American Hockey League-affiliated, AAA minor league professional hockey franchise based in Worcester. The team plays its home games in the Worcester Centrum Centre, a convention/arena complex located in the heart of the city.

The IceCats got their start when Roy Boe purchased the Springfield Indians AHL team and moved it to Worcester in the Summer of 1994. The team began play in the Fall of 1994 with a collection of players from around the league but as yet with no National Hockey League team affiliation. Late in the 1994-1995 season, Boe and Head Coach/General Manager Jim Roberts negotiated a deal with the St. Louis Blues. From that point on the IceCats would be the Blues' triple-A minor league team. The Peoria Rivermen of the East Coast Hockey League, in turn, became the IceCats' double-A franchise in 1998, having been with St. Louis before the 1994 Worcester deal. During the 2000-2001 season, Boe sold the IceCats to the St. Louis Blues. The team celebrated its tenth season in the AHL in Fall 2003.

The Worcesters

The Worcesters, a defunct 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 to not have an attached nickname.

The team's home field, the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds, off of Sever Street in Worcester (near the present site of Becker College's Worcester campus), 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.

Attendance suffered in following seasons, despite this early spectacle, and at one game in 1882 the crowd was measured at 18 strong. This was down from the franchise high of 3,652 in 1881. At the end of its third season, the team was expelled from the National League, and replaced with a team from Philadelphia.

External links