On a series of hills overlooking the Blackstone River, Worcester was established as a town on June 14, 1722, chosen the shire town or county seat of Worcester County in 1731, and incorporated as a city on February 29, 1848.
The Nipmuc people were living in the region when the first European settlers arrived in the 1670s and created a community they called Quinsigamond Plantation. The community was renamed Worcester in 1684, possibly for Worcester, England, as an angry gesture at King Charles II of England, who had suffered defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Hostility from the Nipmuc twice forced the abandonment of the settlement; the first permanent colonization came in 1713. Incorporated as a town in 1722, major industrial development began after the opening of the Blackstone Canal in 1828, linking Worcester with Providence, Rhode Island. Worcester was incorporated as a city in 1848.
Worcester played an important role in the political development of the United States. During the American Revolution, the city was home to pamphleteer Isaiah Thomas, whose words helped unite opposition to the British. The city was active in Shays' Rebellion, a revolt against excessive land taxation that helped spur the creation of the Constitution of the United States. Residents were also early supporters of reform movements such as the abolition of slavery in the United States. The first national women's rights convention was held in Worcester in 1850.
Worcester was home to industrial innovation, including new methods of making wire, textiles, grinding wheels, and envelopes. In 1926 rocketry pioneer Robert H. Goddard, a professor at Clark University, fired his first liquid fuel rocket in nearby Auburn.
Since the late 1980s, biotechnological research has been important to the city's economy. The Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park opened in 1987 and accommodates research facilities for numerous companies. CenTech Park was later developed nearby specifically for biotechnology-related manufacturing. Worcester is an inland port of entry for foreign commerce, and major interstate highways and rail lines traverse the city.
Worcester is noted for its fine educational and cultural facilities. In addition to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester is home to many institutions of higher education, including Worcester State College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Assumption College, Clark University, the College of the Holy Cross, Becker College, Quinsigamond Community College and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
For more information on the history of Worcester, please visit The Worcester Historical Museum Web site at http://www.worcesterhistory.org/ .