Located about 40 miles (64 km) west of Boston, Worcester is New England's second largest city.
European settlement began in 1673 with the arrival of colonists from eastern Massachusetts. They renamed their village in 1684 as an insult to King Charles II, who had suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Worcester (England) in 1651. Incorporated as a township in 1722, Worcester grew as an important transportation center on the Boston Turnpike, linking Boston with New York and the west, and the Blackstone Canal, which provided access to Providence and the Atlantic Ocean. Once a center of heavy industry, its population peaked at 203, 486 in 1950. In recent years, the economy has evolved into high technology enterprises, including biotechnology.
Worcester's John Woodman Higgins Armory Museum is well-known for its outstanding collection of medieval and Renaissance armor.