Worcester (population 172,648) is the third largest city in Massachusetts and the site of the headwaters of the Blackstone River. Named the county seat of Worcester County in 1731, the city prospered during the 18th century and then saw explosive industrial growth during the 19th century, sparked by the opening of the Blackstone Canal in 1828 and the coming of the railroad in 1835.
Today, the city is an active urban center with an industry-based economy and a lively ethnic mix. Over 600 historic sites and structures have been determined to be historically significant by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.
The city has supported major rehabilitation projects, including renovation of Union Station (1911) as a multi-modal transportation center, and is planning significant tourism initiatives such as development of a new Heritage Corridor "Gateway" Visitor Center.
The city also is partnering with local groups on smaller projects such as the relocation and rehabilitation of the Quinsigamond Baptist Church (1891). Located in Worcester's historic Swedish immigrant enclave, the church was moved to city property after it was threatened with demolition. The building has been sold to a private developer, and its adaptive reuse is contributing to the revitalization of the neighborhood's commercial center.
Designated a Preserve America Community in June 2004.