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Fitchburg City


Fitchburg City Hall is located at 718 Main Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420; phone: 978-345-9592.

Finntown, Cleghorn, Greektown and the Patch are examples of Fitchburg's older neighborhoods that were once ethnic enclaves of immigrant communities that came to work in the city's mills. These neighborhoods are clustered around the downtown area and are characterized by mixed uses. The housing stock in these neighborhoods was originally constructed to house the employees working in the mills. Many of the homes are multifamily, and constitute the majority of the rental units in the city. [1]

Beginnings [2]

Fitchburg was first settled about 1730, incorporated as a town in 1764, and incorporated as a city in 1872.

Nestled among rolling hills, in the valley along a branch of the Nashua River, Fitchburg illustrates the almost inevitable trend of many Massachusetts cities which, after more than a century's existence as small agricultural hamlets, were transformed in a few years into industrial cities. Second in size in Worcester County, Fitchburg is notable in its segregation of the industrial and residential sections. The steep slopes on the south side of the Little Nashua River are covered almost entirely by dwelling houses, while the business section monopolizes the north side close to the river bank. The outlying portions, sparsely populated, are used principally for pasturing and farming.

Owing to the dominance of heavy industries, Fitchburg gives the appearance of being a man's town, although the census reports that women lead in actual numbers. A Yankee twang is at once detected in the voices, but the city is a composite of many races. There are Irish, some descended from early railroad hands, many dark French-Canadians, who came as mill workers about 1860, lean, blue-eyed Swedes, brought by Iver Johnson interests in 1890, and serious-faced Finns, introduced in the great immigration of 1880 to 1912, and Poles and Italians. The city itself has an air of substance, unleavened by imagination. It strikes a level midway between an impressive display of wealth and a marked revelation of poverty. This is due in part to the great number of small commercial enterprises owned principally by Germans, Jews, and Armenians. Racially organized co-operatives, notably the Finnish Co-operative Society, the Farmers Co-operatives, and the new German enterprise, promote an orderliness of living not usually found in 'factory towns.'

Fitchburg for fifty years after its incorporation was primarily a dairying and agricultural community, largely self-contained. In 1793 an outlet was provided by the opening of a stagecoach line between Boston and Fitchburg. At the same time the industrial potentialities of the Nashua River were recognized. As early as 1805 General Leonard Burbank established a paper mill near the 250-foot fall of the river. The opening of the Boston and Fitchburg Railroad in 1845, and the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad in 1848, insured still more rapid transportation facilities and attracted new industries, many of which are now in operation. The quarrying of granite from Rollstone Hill was still an important industry in the 1930s.

  1. City of Fitchburg, Vision 2020 Master Plan, www.ci.fitchburg.ma.us, accessed February, 2011.
  2. Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for Massachusetts, Massachusetts: A Guide to Its Places and People, American Guide Series, The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1937.
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