“As transportation and technology improved, beer became more refined and commercial variants readily available. Signature ales, IPAs, porters and lagers were imported by Geo. F. Hewett in the 1870s. Companies such as M.A. Worcester sold commercially available hops, yeast and malt from its warehouse near Mechanic and Summer streets. It was not, however, until the Bowler brothers arrived in 1883 that the city’s first big brewery was born.” As brewing in the city experiences a renaissance, Worcester history expert David DuBois reflects on the first beer boom.
“As home to trolley manufacturer Osgood Bradley and later Pullman Standard, Worcester played an important role in the history of passenger rail travel in the United States. And over the years, trolleys and trains have captured the imagination of millions.” Indeed, hop on and take a fascinating journey with Worcester history expert David DuBois.
Today is the anniversary of the Worcester tornado of 1953, which killed 94, caused millions of dollars in damages and deposited debris as far away as 50 miles. Photos and six videos help tell the story of the disaster.
If not for a factory fire, it is possible that instead of Hondas or Harley-Davidsons today we might all be riding motorcycles made by Royal Motor Works right here in Worcester. Introduced in 1909, the Pioneer was, according to Bonhams, “one of the finest motorcycles produced in this country.”
While there are some serious folks who ride year-round, March brings back motorcycle season for the rest of us. It is the beginning of outdoor swap meets, long rides and late nights in the garage. This tradition stretches back to the very beginnings of motorcycle culture here in Worcester.
The outsiders’ perspective of guide books and first-person travel accounts make them very attractive sources to historians.
Their writers have the same desire to experience a place, and oftentimes ask the same questions as we do looking back today. In particular, there’s been a renewed interest in studying the role of travel as part of the 20th-century African-American experience. While Worcester was not a major travel destination, there were many people moving through the city by both car and rail.
There were no guarantees for travelers of color in the 1940s.
Prior to passage of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 local laws or regulations could segregate service. Even in areas without legally defined segregation — as in much of the northern United States — local practice and racial bias could be used as reasons to deny accommodation.
Imagine arriving in an unfamiliar city not knowing if the restaurant around the corner would serve you, or if the gas station would fill your car. This could make travel extremely stressful, difficult or even dangerous.
Just after midnight on May 3, 1850, a bomb exploded at Mayor Henry Chapin’s office on Main and Sudbury streets. The explosion destroyed the contents of his office and severely damaged other businesses in the building.
Three nights later, a second bomb was set off at the home of Constable Charles Warren. While the explosion at the mayor’s office caused significant property damage, the one at Warren’s could have incurred a deadlier result. Warren later testified that his family was home and asleep at the time of the explosion, and fragments of the shell tore through his house.
These two almost forgotten events in Worcester’s history drew in the politics of two of the 19th century’s most fiercely debated issues, temperance and slavery.
The explosions foreshadowed the violence that would one day accompany the national prohibition of alcohol from 1920 to 1933.
Cyanide. Arsenic. Asbestos. Coal tar.
All very nasty substances discovered in the ground at the future Worcester Regional Transit Authority maintenance garage on Quinsigamond Avenue. The land was the site of a former manufactured gas plant built in the 19th century in Worcester’s big wave of expansion.
While today we burn natural gas for cooking and heating, in the 1800s coal was liquefied to produce a flammable gas. It was then piped underground to businesses and homes to provide an alternative to burning coal or wood, two fuels that were dirty and labor intensive to use.
The gas was also used for lighting and for street lamps throughout the city, replacing older oil-burning lamps that required refilling and maintenance. As anyone who has opened up the walls of an older house knows, gas was installed before electricity.