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Known as the "Heart of the Commonwealth," Worcester, Massachusetts with a population of 170,000 remains today what it has been for decades, New England's second largest city and site of a diverse and pioneering economy. First incorporated as a township in 1722, this settlement forty miles west of Boston soon became an important transportation center on the Boston Turnpike linking the capital city with New York and the west. One of America's first internal commercial waterways, the Blackstone Canal, linked the town with Providence, Rhode Island to the South and gave direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. Worcester played its role in America's early history General Washington rode through here. The cannon used at Dorchester Heights to drive the British from Boston were literally dragged through its streets. Abraham Lincoln slept here, and John Adams taught school here. Industry thrived here; steel fabrication and wire drawing, printing and envelop manufacturing, abrasives and machine tooling. The valentine card got its start here. America's first experiments in rockets started here. The birth control pill was invented here. Today, the city has changed from its heavy manufacturing past to new directions in economic enterprise. Biotechnology is a major enterprise within the city, as are eight colleges and a state university medical school. It is an inland port of entry for foreign commerce, relying upon major interstate highways and rail lines which traverse the municipality. A city-owned airport has been improved with a new $15 million modernized air terminal to accommodate passengers and air freight. More than fifty intracity bus trips originate in the downtown every day. Worcester is nonetheless predominantly residential in character. More than 1200 acres of city-owned parkland are found within its 38 square miles. Fifty public schools educate 20,000 children. Half of the entire city budget goes for educational purposes, testimony to the values of its inhabitants. Its parklands are among the oldest in the nation; its free public library one of America's oldest; its acclaimed music festival the nation's oldest; its art museum a gem rivalling those of major urban centers. Worcester is a city proud of its past and secure in its future.
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