Springfield, Massachusetts

The largest city on the Connecticut River and the seat of Hampden County, the city of Springfield is part of the Springfield Metropolitan Area, which is one of the two metropolitan areas in Massachusetts. Springfield is the largest city in Western New England and the cultural and economic capital of Pioneer Valley, the name by which the Massachusetts' Connecticut River Valley is popularly known.

Founded on New England's most fertile soil and located as it is midway between the major port cities of New York, Boston, Albany and Montreal, Springfield played an important role throughout American history. Learn here how George Washington chose the city to house the fledgling United States' National Armory of Springfield and the role the Springfield Armory in the early Industrial Revolution.

Explore the culture of The City of Firsts, the original nickname given to Springfield. Learn here about the factors that led the city to get a new nickname of The City of Progress in the 19th and 20th century.

Springfield is an attractive city for both local residents as well as tourists. It has something to appeal to everyone's senses. People of any age or any profession will surely find the city exciting and vivacious to their own liking.

Springfield History

Springfield is located on the most advantageous spot in the Connecticut River Valley for farming and trading through the Connecticut River. The spot was found in 1635 by a scouting team led by William Pynchon, an original settler of Roxbury, Massachusetts. The land near the river was clear as the Indians had burned the trees and covered with alluvial soil, which resulted in floods. In 1636, the first settlers came from Massachusetts Bay Colony as well as the Plymouth Colony, and Springfield became the first settlement for non-religious reasons because the single most motivating factor was news of fertile land and 'The Great River'.

Between 1640 and 1641, two events had a great affect on the political boundaries of the Connecticut River Valley; one related to grain trade and the other to a toll when passing the Fort at Old Saybrook, maintained by Hartford at the mouth of Connecticut River for protection against the Natives and the New Netherland Colony. These events, coupled with the philosophical difference (use of force versus harmonious relations with the Natives) were instrumental in Springfield choosing Massachusetts over Connecticut, which was earlier administering Springfield and other settlements at Wethersfield, Hartford, and Windsor. The rivalry between the two great cities on the Connecticut River continued till the new millennium when they started working together to develop the Knowledge Corridor.

Springfield's policy of harmonious relations with the Natives got a big jolt in 1675 during the New World's first Indian War, King Phillip's War. Springfield was among the other major settlements that were burned to the ground. The war resulted in the death of thousands of settlers and Native Americans. It also cleared southern New England of Native Americans and set the agenda on which the United States based its interactions with the native population.

During the 1770s and the Revolutionary War, George Washington and Henry Know selected Springfield as the site for the National Armory, because of its strategic location. Springfield was also far enough upstream to ward off all but the most aggressive sea attacks and the plain above Springfield was, according to them, the most appropriate spot for a National Arsenal.

However, by 1787, during the Shays' Rebellion, thousands of men consisting of three Regulator armies, joined together in an attempt to overtake the US Federal Arsenal in Springfield. Although it did not succeed, Shays' Rebellion, like the Revolutionary War, was however an armed rebellion against a rule of law perceived to be unjust. It eventually led to the framing of the American Constitution.

During the 19th and 20th century, many products were invented in Springfield, including but not limited to the first American-English dictionary, Merriam Webster, vulcanized rubber in 1844 (the automobile had not been invented till then), monkey wrench, and the assembly line for manufacturing. Most of these products are still popular and in use even today and have been responsible for the City's nickname of The City of Progress.

About Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield, the county seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, is the largest city on the Connecticut River. The Springfield Metropolitan Area is one of the two metropolitan areas of Massachusetts; the other is Greater Boston. The population of Springfield as recorded in the 2010 census was 153,060.

Springfield is the third largest city in Massachusetts and the fourth largest in New England after Boston, Worcester and Providence. Over the course of its history, Springfield has earned several nicknames. The City of Firsts as several innovations have been ascribed to it; The City of Homes because of the beautiful Victorian architecture of Springfield homes; and Hoop City because basketball, the world's 2nd most popular sport, was invented here. However, lately Springfield is popularly called The City of Progress as it became the center of commercial invention, technological innovation and ideological progress in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Springfield has played an important role throughout America's history right from the days of the Revolutionary War due to its strategic location, which was the reason why George Washington and Henry Know chose it for founding the National Armory. The armory produced America's first musket and later the famous Springfield rifle. Right from its inception, the National Armory of Springfield has attracted America's most skilled workers, who were instrumental in producing many of the nation's significant innovations such as the first use of the assembly line in manufacturing and interchangeable parts, America's first horseless car, discovery of vulcanized rubber and America's first gasoline powered car. Springfield is also known for the first successful motorcycle, America's first commercial radio station and inventing one of the world's most popular games, basketball.

Like most of the other cities in New England, Springfield too has a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold (average January high temperature of 36 degrees F or 2 degrees C and an average low of 18 degrees F or -8 degrees C). Although temperatures of below 0 degrees F occur every year in the region, Springfield's temperatures are normally warmer than that since it is protected by mountains and bluffs, its location in the Connecticut River Valley, and its proximity to several water bodies.

Springfield is only 23.9 miles from Hartford, capital of State of Connecticut. Both cities share the Bradley International Airport, which is located midway. The Hartford-Springfield region is known as the country's Knowledge Corridor with Springfield as its geographic center. There are in all 160,000 university students and over 32 universities and arts colleges in the region with more than 20 universities within a 15-mile radius of Springfield's Metro Center.

About Hampden County, Massachusetts

Hampden County is a non-governmental county in the State of Massachusetts and like a large number of other counties in the state, has no county government. It exists today only as a geographical region as all former county functions were assumed by state agencies.

The historic county seat of Hampden County is the city of Springfield, the largest city on Connecticut River. Springfield is also the cultural and economic capital of Hampden County. The county came into existence in 1812 when it was split from Hampshire County in Northampton, Massachusetts being made the 'shire town' of Hampshire County. However, Springfield, which was till then the 'shire town' of Hampshire County, actually ever since its inception in 1636, continued to grow much bigger and faster and was granted the status of a shire town over its own southerly jurisdiction.

Hampden County is the most urban county in Western Massachusetts and a part of the Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area. To its north, east and west are other Massachusetts counties of Hampshire, Worcester and Berkshire. To its south and southwest are Connecticut counties of Tolland and Hartford. The Knowledge Corridor that surrounds Springfield-Hartford is the second most populous urban area in New England after Greater Boston.

The population of Hampden County stood at 463,490 as per the 2010 census. Almost 80% of the population is white and approximately 8% is Black or African American and 1.3% is Asian. The rest is a mix of other races.

Hampden County, particularly Springfield is the cultural, civic and recreational capital of the region. Springfield since the time of King Phillip's War and the American Revolutionary War has played an important role in American history. Springfield is also known for its commercial inventions and technological innovations that include the lathe, the use of interchangeable parts, the use of an assembly line in manufacturing,  and also the first American-English Merriam Webster Dictionary. The new millennium has been instrumental in the economic and cultural resurgence of the region, mainly due to the formation of the Springfield-Hartford Knowledge Corridor.