city, Middlesex county, eastern Massachusetts, U.S., on the Charles River, just west of Boston. Settled in the 1630s, it was part of Watertown until separately incorporated in 1738. Abundant waterpower attracted early gristmills and paper mills. In 1813 the first textile mill for processing raw cotton into finished cloth under one roof was established there. Industrialization followed, and the American Waltham Watch Company (founded 1854) became the nation's first mass-producer of watches. Until the mid-20th century, it was one of the world's largest and played an important role in the city's progress. Services now account for the largest share of employment, but the industrial sector is also strong. Diversified manufactures include precision instruments, electrical machinery, cameras, electronic systems, missiles, and fabricated metal products. Waltham is a leading research and development centre for such companies as Raytheon and Polaroid. It is the seat of Brandeis University (1948) and Bentley College (1917). The Lyman Estate includes the Paine House, a notable colonial restoration, and Gore Place (1806) is an excellent example of Federal-style architecture. Also in the city are the Charles River Museum of Industry; the Waltham Museum, with displays on local history; and the Rose Art Museum on the Brandeis campus. The first American training school for nurses (outside of hospital wards) was started in 1885 in Waltham. Inc. city, 1884. Pop. (1990) 57,878; (2000) 59,226.
Learn more about Waltham with a free trial on Britannica.com.