Springfield, Massachusetts

City of Springfield
—  City  —
City of Springfield

Nickname(s): City of Homes; Birthplace of Basketball
Location in Hampden County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°06′05″N 72°35′25″W / 42.10139°N °W / 42.10139; -72.59028
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Hampden
Settled 1636
Incorporated 1852
 - Type Mayor-council city
 - Mayor Domenic J Sarno (D)
 - City  dunams (86.0 km2 / 33.2 sq mi)
 - Land
 - Water
Population (2008[1])
 - City 155,575
 - Urban density
 - Rural density
 Metro 698,903
 - Metro density
 -  Density
 -  Density
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01101 01103 01104 01105 01107 01108 01109 01119 01128 01129 01151
Area code(s) 413
FIPS code 25-67000
GNIS feature ID 0609092
Website http://www.springfieldcityhall.com/COS/

Springfield is the largest city on the Connecticut River and the county seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States.

In the 2000 census, the city population was 154,082 with an estimated 2009 population of 155,575.[1] It is the third largest city in Massachusetts and fourth largest in New England (behind Boston, Worcester and Providence). Springfield has two nicknames — The City of Homes and The City of Firsts.

Historically the first Springfield in the United States, it is the largest city in Western Massachusetts and the Pioneer Valley.

Springfield is notable as the birthplace of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, as well as the city where James Naismith invented basketball. It is home to the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Springfield Falcons AHL ice hockey team, and the Springfield Armor NBA Development League team. It also holds the largest collection of Chinese cloisonné outside Asia at the G.W. Vincent Smith Art Museum.

The Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of three counties: Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin. At the 2000 census, the Springfield MSA had a population of 680,014 (though a July 1, 2009, estimate placed the population at 698,903).[2] It is also part of a larger metropolitan area known as the Northeast megalopolis.


Colonial settlement

Town Date of separation[3]
Westfield 1669
Suffield (CT) 1682
Enfield (CT) 1683
Stafford (CT) 1719
Somers (CT) 1734
Wilbraham 1763
East Windsor (CT) 1768
West Springfield 1774
Ludlow 1774
Southwick 1775 (from Westfield)
Montgomery 1780 (from Westfield)
Longmeadow 1783
Russell 1792 (from Westfield)
Holyoke (southern part) 1850 (from W. Springfield)
Agawam 1855 (from W. Springfield)
Chicopee 1848
Hampden 1878
East Longmeadow 1894 (from Longmeadow)

Contact with European explorers, conquerors, and colonists from the 16th century onward brought diseases which decimated the native population of North America. By 1635, the still-active epidemics had left an estimated 5,000 Indians in all of New England.[4]

In 1635, William Pynchon, then the assistant treasurer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, led an expedition with John Cable and John Woodcock, either up the Connecticut River or west across land from the Boston settlement, to the site of the Native American village of Agawam (which was associated with either the Pocomtuc or Nipmuck tribe) on the western bank. The lands nearest the river were both clear of trees due to occasional burns by the Indians, and covered in nutrient-rich river silt from occasional floods.[5] They constructed a pre-fabricated house south of the Westfield River in what is now Agawam, Massachusetts. Cable and Woodcock were supplied with food and goods to trade over the winter.

In 1636, Pynchon led a settlement expedition with at least seven other men, among them Deacon Samuel Chapin.[6] The English settlers and their livestock traveled over land from the existing settlements in eastern Massachusetts, while some supplies were transported by boat.[7] Pynchon's party purchased land on both sides of river from the 18 inhabitants of the village, representing the inner tracts of what is now Agawam, West Springfield, Longmeadow, Springfield, and Chicopee.[8] The Indians retained foraging and hunting rights, the rights to their existing farmlands, and were granted the right to compensation if the English cattle ruined their corn crops.[9]

The settlement was originally named Agawam Plantation, but in 1640 it was renamed Springfield after the village near Chelmsford, Essex in England where Pynchon was born.

After warnings about the west side being prone to flooding,[10] and to "avoid trespassing" on the reserved Indian lands, the settlement moved to the less favorable farmland on the east side of the river, and the initial land grants to English families were made there.[11] Long, narrow plots of farmland were created, extending out from the river, in addition to more distant forested "wood lots". A warehouse was also constructed at Warehouse Point in Connecticut, to facilitate the main profit-generating industry for the settlement – trade with the Indians for beaver skins.[7]

Purchases of large swaths of land from the Indians continued throughout the 17th century, enlarging Springfield's territory and forming other colonial towns elsewhere in the Pioneer Valley. Westfield was the westernmost settlement of Massachusetts Bay Colony until 1725, making Springfield a "frontier town" for a number of decades.[8] Over decades and centuries, portions of Springfield were sectioned off to form neighboring towns.

Due to imprecision in surveying the colonial borders, Springfield was soon embroiled in a boundary dispute between the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Connecticut Colony which was not resolved until 1803-4. (See the article on the History of Massachusetts.) As a result, some lands originally administered by Springfield – including the earliest land transactions recorded in western Massachusetts – are now in Connecticut.[8]

Springfield remained a small working town when its security was threatened in 1675, during King Philip's War. The leader of the Wampanoag Indian tribe, Wamsutta, died shortly after being questioned at gunpoint by Plymouth colonists. Soon thereafter, the war began. Wamsutta's brother and successor, Metacomet, known as Philip to the colonists, started war with the colony to avenge his brother's death; the Pocomtuc tribe attacked Springfield and destroyed more than half the town on October 5, 1675.[12]

Springfield Armory

During the 1770s, George Washington selected Springfield as the site of the National Armory. By the 1780s the Arsenal was a major ammunition and weapons depot. The term Springfield Rifle may refer to any sort of arms produced by the Springfield Armory for the United States armed forces.

In 1787 poor farmers from western Massachusetts, led by Daniel Shays, tried to seize the arms at Springfield. This came to be known as Shays's Rebellion, and was a key event leading to the Federal Constitutional Convention. Those involved in the rebellion planned to use the weapons to force the closure of the Commonwealth and county courts, which were seizing their lands for debt. Shays Rebellion played an important part in moving the United States away from the Articles of Confederation to the current Constitution.[13]