Worcester is a city and the county seat of Worcester County, Massachusetts. Named after Worcester, England, it is now the second largest city in New England, after Boston. Known for innovation in commerce, industry, education, and social thought, Worcester and the nearby Blackstone Valley were major contributors to the American Industrial Revolution. Ichabod Washburn, an early industrialist, developed a process for extruding steel wire in Worcester and Loring Coes invented the monkey wrench in the city. The first envelope folding machine was invented in Worcester, and an early female entrepreneur, Esther Howland, designed and manufactured the first American valentine cards in the city in 1847.
As political tensions rose in the months before the American Revolution, Worcester served as a center of revolutionary activity. On July 14, 1776, Isaiah Thomas, intercepting the packet from Philadelphia to Boston, performed the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence ever in front of Worcester City Hall.