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History of Worcester, Massachusetts

Worcester, the county seat of Worcester County, is situated on the Blackstone River on the west side of Lake Quinsigamond, about 40 miles west of Boston. In 1673, Daniel Gookin settled in an area that had earlier been a camping ground for the Nipmuck Indians, which he called Quinsigamond. During King Philip's War, the settlement was abandoned, but it was restarted in 1684 and named Worcester, after the town in England from which several of the settlers had come. Again in 1702, it was abandoned on account of Indian attacks, but Jonas Rice, one of the original settlers, returned in 1713. Worcester has been settled continuously since that date. Worcester became a town in 1722 and was incorporated in 1780. At the time of the Revolutionary War, it was still a minor outpost on the frontier. Its courthouse was besieged during Shay's Rebellion in 1786. Industrial development began around 1800. The Blackstone Canal connected Worcester with Providence in 1828 and a rail link to Boston was completed in 1835. In 1848, Worcester was incorporated as a city. A riot broke out in 1854 when an apparent attempt to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act met with resistance from local anti-slavery elements. Worcester is a center of higher education. The College of the Holy Cross, established in 1843 by the Jesuits, is the oldest Roman Catholic college in New England. Worcester Polytechnic Institute was a pioneer in science and engineering education. Clark University, founded in 1887, is the oldest graduate institution in the United States and a founding member of the American Association of Universities. Worcester Museum of Art opened in 1898 and now houses more than 35,000 works of art. The Worcester Historical Museum contains vast amounts of local information and also operates Worcester's only historic house museum, Salisbury Mansion. The Higgins Armory Museum specializes in arms, armor, and related art. In 1893, the Sisters of Providence founded St. Vincent's Hospital on Vernon Hill overlooking the city. The institution has evolved over the last century into the present day Worcester Medical Center. Umass Memorial Health Care operates three hospital campuses in Worcester. The State Insane Asylum was established in Worcester in 1842, and is now known as the Massachusetts State Hospital.