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Worcester, Massachusetts

Site of Emma Goldman's Ice Cream Shop

On a side street near the interstate is the building where the famous anarchist once owned an ice cream parlor.  

Emma Goldman is remembered as a political activist and writer, and among the most important figures of the anarchist movement in North America and Europe in the early 20th century. She worked to try to bring about a revolution that she believed would liberate the working class from their struggles, and was also an early and spirited advocate for women’s liberation and sexual liberation generally.

A less well-known chapter of Goldman’s life, however, was her time spent dishing out ice cream at a shop in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she also lived for a time.

It is a little-known fact that in 1892, early in the development of her career as a professional agitator, Goldman resided in Worcester, Massachusetts together with her partner and co-conspirator, Alexander Berkman (who was, later that year, to make an assassination attempt against the robber baron Henry Clay Frick, for which he served 14 years in prison). While living there, she owned and operated an ice cream parlor on Winter St, close to what is now I-290. 

Goldman’s biographers report that while selling ice cream at her shop, she resided with Berkman about a block away at 45 Winter Street, in the heart of what was then the city’s Jewish neighborhood. That building no longer exists, having been razed fairly recently as part of redevelopment efforts, but the shop building still stands. As far as visuals go, these sites are not much to look at. However, if the curious traveller happens to make his or her way through central Massachusetts along I-90, it is worth making a detour through Worcester in order to investigate an obscure chapter in Emma Goldman’s remarkable life.