A LITTLE BIT ABOUT
WALTHAM "WATCH CITY"
Our host city is as inventive and historically pioneering as our steampunk community
Incorporated in 1738, Waltham, Massachusetts was a largely unassuming area for the first 75 years of its existence. All all that changed in 1813. The founding by Francis Cabot Lowell of the Boston Manufacturing Company, a revolutionary cotton textile mill situated along the Charles River, just adjacent south of what is now Waltham Common (and epicenter of the Watch City Steampunk Festival!). It was a pioneering model of manufacturing and labor.
This was the first place where cotton textiles would be woven my mechanized loom technology, the first "integrated factory" where all the steps of the production process were housed under one roof. It was also instrumental in the creation of the role of the working woman, as it employed a mostly female workforce, the "Mill Girls." The methodologies put in place at this Waltham factory mill would lead directly to the creation of the city of Lowell, Massachusetts, as well as many other factory cities across New England, and would prove to be a milestone in the American Industrial Revolution.
But it was the arrival in 1854 of the company which would become the Waltham Watch Factory which truly brought the name "Waltham" worldwide recognition. Pioneers in making– not just the first machine-made watches–but the most accurate watches in the world, the Waltham Watch Company would dominate that industry for decades.
Millions of watches were produced by the company over the next century and they found their way into hands as prestigious as Abraham Lincoln and to parts of the globe as far-reaching as the North Pole.
The fame of the city of Waltham would be forever tied to this company, and earn it its nickname, "Watch City."
It wasn't quite something magical in the waters of the Charles River, but nonetheless, Waltham would be home to a great number of pioneering companies throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Charles Metz's Waltham Manufacturing Company, would start out making Orient bicycles, the preeminent racing bikes of the 1890's, make their way into brass-era automobiles and some of the very earliest American production motorcycles. Raytheon would produce the magnetron tube–aiding not just WWII era radar technology but leading to the microwaves that operate in homes across America–before the company moved deeper into a critical role as a leading US defense contractor. These were just a few of the great businesses to come out of the city.
Into the 21st Century, companies like Boston Dynamics, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Constant Contact call Waltham home and continue its legacy as a city of great ideas, great industry, and great innovation.
Waltham "Watch City" celebrates its great history and looks forward to even greater futures!