WORCESTER, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Worcester considers itself the heart of Massachusetts, so much so that it puts hearts on all its street signs.

On our visit, we found they are known for so much more - things that you may have never thought.

Day three of 10 Towns in 10 Days takes us to Worcester

Robert Goddard's imagination grew one evening while reading 'War of the Worlds' and on October 18, 1899, he dedicated his life to pursuing space travel.

"He launches his first liquid fueled rocket in 1926. He does the majority of his research here. He spends a little time in Maryland, a little time in Roswell, NM and does a lot of launches there," said Vanessa Bumpus with the Worcester Historical Museum.

Worcester has a lot of connections to the space race.

"From the Norton Company, who made the heating shields for the moon lander and Gordon, who made the Struts vehicle that landed on the moon. There is also a microchip on the moon made by Allegro Microsystems out of Worcester, which has a letter from every world leader," Bumpus added.

Manned space travel was made possible by the David Clark Company, creators of the high-altitude pressure suit that astronauts wore on Gemini and Apollo missions.

The Worcester Historical Museum holds many of these city treasures, including the first mass produced valentine.

On the other side of town, the Ecotarium takes its guest through the natural world around them.

"Our exhibits are all about science and nature and really helping people become inspired to care about the world around them," said Lucy Hale with the Ecotarium.

The Ecotarium has a wide range of exhibits.

"We have a wonderful city science exhibit. That's really about engineering of a city and in our urban habitat. We have exhibits on water and wetland. We have outdoor live animals - a fox, porcupine, birds of prey. I hope that some of the kids that come here grow up to be scientists, but I hope everyone who comes here falls in love with science," Hale added.

That's enough to leave a smile on your face, plus the smiley face was founded in Worcester.

"Smiley face is invented here in 1963 by Harvey Ball. He is hired to create it for an insurance company. They wanted to boost employee moral, so he's hired to create these buttons. He's paid $240 for the campaign and $45 for the button. He never copyrights it," Bumpus explained.

Ball probably didnt realize that his creation would be used for decades to come.

"We wouldn't have emojis without the smiley face," Bumpus noted.

There is even a huge smiley face mural that just went up in town.

"It makes us proud, it makes everyone from Worcester proud," Bumpus added.

So while Worcester has a strong past, many are looking to the future.

"Worcester in a word - I'd say unstoppable. There is always something coming out of here. We are always looking for the next thing and we always keep moving on.

Also on Wednesday, we visited Table Talk Pie. They are a Worcester institution, making pies for nearly 100 years.

On Thursday, for day four of 10 Towns in 10 Days, we visit Cummington.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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