city, Worcester county, north-central Massachusetts, U.S. It lies along the Mohawk Trail scenic highway and a branch of the Nashua River, just northwest of Leominster and about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Boston. The site was first settled in 1740; originally known as Turkey Hills, it was later named for John Fitch, who did much to secure the incorporation of the town in 1764. The river furnished power for early textile mills, and the opening of the Boston-Fitchburg stage line stimulated the growth of the town. The arrival in the 1840s of the Boston and Fitchburg and of the Vermont and Massachusetts railroads spurred industrial development. Services (utilities, health care, education, and business services) now account for the largest share of employment, followed by manufacturing and trade. Fitchburg's manufactures include machinery, paper and metal products, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and textiles. Fitchburg State College was established in 1894 as the State Normal School. Area parks include Audubon, Flat Rock, and Coolidge. Inc. city, 1872. Pop. (1990) city, 41,194; Fitchburg-Leominster PMSA, 138,165; (2000) city, 39,102; Fitchburg-Leominster PMSA, 142,284.
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