The Common is positioned in the center of Main Street to the west, Franklin Street to the south and Front Street to the north and east. City Hall is situated on the western end of the Common and remains the central hub for downtown Worcester.
Originally a 20 acre parcel, the Worcester Common was established to serve as a "common open space" for citizens in the late 17th Century. Although only 4.4 acres remain today, the Common continues to provide vital open space in the downtown area.
The Worcester Common has the privilege of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In a single 4 acre parcel, vital historical, cultural, social, recreational, civic and economic development attributes are woven together within an integrated fabric of features and spaces.
The City has invested in a series of public improvements that are intended to foster wide ranging passive and active recreational uses and help to restore the site to a central position in civic life. A public outdoor skating facility has proven to be very successful during cold weather months and the same space is used for seating, concerts and other public gatherings and events during warm weather months.
Whether you are interested in physical fitness such as yoga, wiffle ball, dancing, watching movies outside or attending a concert series, there are so many things to do at the Worcester Common. In addition to summer events, there is also a skating oval put up during the winter. Visitors can enjoy the Oval and the Worcester Common all year round!
City Hall Common is home to three separate war memorials; The Soldiers' Memorial (Civil War), World War II Memorial and the Southeast Asia War Memorial.
The Soldiers' Memorial was built in 1874 by Randolph Rogers and honors the 4,000 soldiers from the City who answered the Union call during the Civil War. Four statues representing the infantry, artillery, cavalry and navy surmount the corners on rounded pedestals. The bottom course of stonework contains four tablets engraved with 398 names of war dead, arranged alphabetically below their service unit.
The World War II Memorial features 78 water jets - two large jets for the two main theaters of World War II; six medium-sized jets for the six military branches; and 68 smaller jets for the 678 Worcester residents who died in the war - two granite piers engraved with the names of Worcester residents who were killed or missing in action during WWII and informational kiosks that highlight Worcester's contribution to the war effort.
The Southwest Asia War Memorial, designated in 1993 and constructed in the City of Worcester by the Desert Calm Committee, Inc., is the official State monument for the Veterans of the Southwest Asia War. This monument on the Worcester Common is in memory of those who gave their lives in the Desert Shield/Desert Storm conflict.
The first public building to be erected on the Common was a meeting house, which according to the early customs was used not only for religious, but also civic purposes. The meeting house was built in 1719 and the first town meeting was held there in 1722.
In 1763, this structure was torn down and replaced by a larger and more modern building known as the Old South Meeting House. From its porch on July 14, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read publically for the first time in New England by Isaiah Thomas.
The Town Hall was built in 1824, and the Old South Meeting House was demolished in 1887. Until Mechanics Hall was built in 1857, the Town Hall was the largest venue in Worcester. President John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Charles Sumner, Daniel Webster, Father Matthew, Henry Wilson, Kossuth, P.T. Barnum, Thackeray, Edward Everett and John Brown, spoke in the Town Hall on behalf of themselves or some movement of the day.
As a training or muster field, the Common has been the scene of preparation and departure of many military expeditions. A company of Minute Men was organized under Captain Timothy Bigelow and, armed with muskets and cannon, drilled daily on the Common. On April 19, 1775, although they took no direct part in the battles of Lexington and Concord, they became a part of General Artemus Ward's forces at Cambridge.
View some of the other parks in this district. Get out and explore!
Fairmont Park is located atop Poet Laureate Hill off of Grove Street. It has a playground, half basketball court and a picnic area. This park also features amazing views of downtown Worcester. In addition, Fairmont Park has an amphitheater and occasionally hosts events.
Harrington Field is a 6-acre park on the city's East Side, located between Franklin Street and Harrington Way. Named after former Worcester Mayor Francis A. Harrington, it is the home of Jack Barry Little League and features two softball fields, a baseball field, a playground and a basketball court.
Institute Park is a historic park which dates to the late 1800’s. Close to downtown, this park was originally an ordinary farm field and pasture. It was donated by the Honorable Stephen Salisbury III in 1887 as a park to supply a green space for the students and citizens of Worcester.