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Worcester, Massachusetts

Downtown Worcester, with City Hall at the rightWorcester 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 Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. "Worcester" is correctly pronounced with two syllables, not three. 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."

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Seeking to replace the old, outdated charter, Worcester voters in November 1947 approved of a change to Plan E municipal government.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.

Notables born in Worcester

Harvey Ball, inventor of the Smiley face
Robert Benchley, writer and member of the Algonquin Round Table
Mark Fidrych, former Detroit Tigers pitcher
Samuel Fuller, producer and director
Rich Gedman, former Boston Red Sox catcher
Robert Goddard, father of modern rocketry
John Michael Hayes, writer of the Alfred Hitchcock films Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, and The Man Who Knew Too Much
Abbie Hoffman, radical activist
Ryan Idol, adult film actor
Jordan Knight, member of the boy band "New Kids On The Block"
Denis Leary, actor and comedian
Chris Titus, actor and comedian
Alicia Witt, actress


The Dodge Park GazeboWorcester counts within its borders over 1200 acres (5 km sq.) of publicly owned property. Elm Park, purchased in 1854, was not only the first public park in the city (after the 8 acre (32,000 m sq.) 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 (2.2 km sq.) 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

Assumption College (1904)
Becker College, formerly Becker Junior College (1887)
Central New England Colleges (1977 - closed 1989)
Central New England College of Technology (1938 - 1989)
Worcester Junior College (1905-merged with Becker College, 1989)
Clark University (1887)
College of the Holy Cross (1843)
Oread Institute (1849-closed, 1881)
Quinsigamond Community College (1963)
University of Massachusetts Medical School (1970)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) (1865)
Worcester State College (1874)
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 Bancroft School was founded in 1901 and is a K through 12 private school. It is located on Shore Drive, across the road from Indian Lake.

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 minor-league ice hockey team. 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.

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.

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Rare Eliot Ness Credentials Offered in Central Mass Auctions September 2012 Sale

WORCESTER, Mass., June 29, 2012 -- A rare collection of credentials and memorabilia belonging to legendary crime fighter Eliot Ness has surfaced and will be offered for the first time at an important Sept. 27th sale by Central Mass Auctions of Worcester, MA. Read more about this Worcester, Massachusetts press release.

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