The phrase “melting pot” is used frequently to describe the United States, and it’s a phrase that fits many of our cities and towns, too. Among them is Woburn, a city that’s embracing its growing diversity. It’s a place where you can shop for fresh produce at an Indian grocery store, sample authentic hand-pulled Chinese noodles, indulge in Brazilian barbeque, and tuck into Spanish tapas, all within its 12.9 square miles.
That diversity is continually celebrated, too, with events like WorldFest Woburn!, an annual public event led by the community group Social Capital Inc. The international-themed festival features food, vendors, crafts, cultural performances, and more. While diversity might cause tension in some communities, David Crowley, president of Social Capital Inc., says Woburn has embraced and celebrated theirs.
Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin agrees. “The diversity of the city is really something that we’re proud of,” he says. “It’s important for a city to grow like that.” In fact, continual growth and celebrating diversity are two things that the city has been working hard at for many years.
“We’ve been aggressively building new schools,” says Galvin, including four new elementary schools over the past 15 years, with a fifth coming soon, and a new high school, which he calls the “jewel of the city.” He also says that the city is doing a $30 million renovation and addition to its library, all without an override. In fact, Galvin touts the city’s great tax rate and Moody’s rating.
“It’s a great project for the city, and we think it’s going to be a real focal point of our center,” Galvin says of the library. Of course, its city center and new schools aren’t the only things to recommend in Woburn: It’s got a wealth of open space, too, such as the lovely Horn Pond, Mary Cummings Park, and Whispering Hill Woods, which combine for hundreds of acres of nature to enjoy within the city.
“It’s really a beautiful reserve,” Jim Murphy, president of the North Suburban Chamber of Commerce, says of Horn Pond. “It is a wonderful place to go.”
But what makes all that open space and growing downtown even better for residents and businesses is that Woburn is extremely close to Boston, located just 11 miles away and connected by public transit, and nestled conveniently at the crossroads of routes 95 and 93.
“It is a very terrific central location,” says Murphy. That central location and competitive tax rate have helped attract businesses to Woburn, from small mom-and-pop operations to big companies like Raytheon, Dole & Bailey, Skyworks, and Nantero, to name a few, says Thomas Stirling, president of the Woburn Business Association. He credits a business-friendly city administration, great real estate, and a prime location as reasons for Woburn’s growth. “It’s all about the community ecosystem that’s there,” he says.
Also growing is Woburn’s place in the local restaurant scene. “Strega Prime opened at a time when Boston-based restaurants were expanding to the suburbs, and by choosing this location, we’re able to cater to families, couples, and business professionals alike,” says Nick Varano, owner of Strega Prime. “Nowadays, you don’t have to drive into the city to get a great meal and experience top-notch hospitality.”
Deepak Diwan, co-owner of the from-scratch burger restaurant WuBurger, agrees, saying, “Woburn is a microcosm of what’s happening in cities across America.”
And like all good restaurant towns, Woburn has a craft beer producer in the form of Lord Hobo Brewing Company, which is in the process of expanding its brewery into a full-fledged restaurant and beer hall.
“The response has been great. I think everyone is psyched to have us here,” says Kate Ballenger, front of house general manager for Lord Hobo Brewing Company. “Everyone’s really excited for the beer hall to get jumping.”
Date of settlement: 1640
Date incorporated as a city: 1642
Area: 12.9 square miles
ZIP code: 01801
Household income: $54,897
Goodyear Elementary, Altavesta Elementary, Daniel P. Hurld Elementary, Shamrock Elementary, Malcolm White Elementary, Clyde Reeves Elementary, Linscott Elementary, Wyman Elementary, John F. Kennedy Middle School,
Joyce Middle School, Woburn Memorial High School
Former Boston Bruins player John Carter; inventor of vulcanized rubber Charles Goodyear; Olympic medalist Courtney Kennedy; labor leader Julia O’Connor; Academy Award–winning art director Lyle R. Wheeler; founder of the Canadian cities Ottowa, Ontario,
and Gatineau Philemon Wright