William Pynchon established Springfield in 1636 at the junction of the Agawam and Connecticut Rivers. Pynchon bought from the Indians the land that now contains the towns of Agawam, West Springfield, Longmeadow and the city of Springfield for the purpose of establishing a trading and fur-collecting post. In 1641, the Town of Springfield, named in honor of Pynchon's English birthplace, was incorporated. Springfield officially became a city in May of 1852.
Springfield's location at the crossroads of New England is the most significant reason for its progress and continuing economic success. The Connecticut River served as an easy and economical means of transportation north and south for early settlers. From its fur-trading and agricultural beginnings, Springfield gradually grew into a thriving industrial community. In the 18th century, the power of the Connecticut River was harnessed. Mills of all varieties grew up and a skilled labor force came into being.
Because of the area's location and technological advancements, particularly in metal crafts, the United States Armory was located here in 1794, resulting in further industrial development. In the 19th century, Springfield became a major railroad center and experienced another industrial boom. The city grew, and such industries as printing, machine manufacture, insurance and finance, took hold and prospered. As affluence increased, it became a gracious city with a noted educational system.
Today, Springfield serves as the Crossroads of New England,? because of the crossing of major east-west and north-south railroads. While the same railways exist and operate today, the city is also served by a number of Interstate Highways including I-90 (the Mass Pike) and I-91, which connect New Haven, Hartford, Northhampton and Vermont to Springfield.
Springfield also benefits from its proximity to both Boston and New York, two of the great cities of the United States and even the world. Should you ever be in the mood to experience all that these two great cities have to offer, you will have easy access both by car and by train.
Springfield is home to the Springfield Falcons, proud members of the American Hockey League. The Falcons are the highest-level minor league affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League. The team plays in the newly renovated Mass Mutual Center and there is no shortage of fun family events throughout the season, featuring ?Screech? the beloved mascot. Springfield is also the birthplace of the game of basketball. Dr. James Naismith invented the game here in 1891 and that history is commemorated at the Basketball Hall of Fame. At the hall, all levels of the game are represented under one roof.
Other great local attractions include the Springfield Science Museum on the Quadrangle green. The Museum?s Seymour Planetarium opened in 1937, and is the oldest American-built planetarium in the world. The Science Museum?s telescope and observatory were dedicated in 1972. Among the many popular exhibits check out Dinosaur Hall, where you can delight in a full sized replica of Tyrannosaurus rex, which towers over you, and also peer directly into his fierce jaws from a window on the second floor. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden is now open on the Quadrangle. Springfield is the birthplace of Theodor Seuss Geisel and appears to have inspired much of his work.
Each winter, "Bright Nights" of Springfield is New England's largest holiday lighting display. Tourists from all over the area come to enjoy the festive outdoor display. In the summer, the Mattoon Street Arts Festival is a popular attraction. Brick sidewalks, ornamental streetlights, and beautifully restored Victorian homes are highlights of Mattoon Street and ample shade makes the Mattoon Street Arts Festival one of the most comfortable destinations of late summer.
Forest Park is a popular attraction in town that features 735 acres on the banks of the Connecticut River, which makes it one of the large municipal parks in the United States. The park has a Zoo, which is well known in the area for its commitment to ?Celebrating Nature?s Diversity.?
For 60 years, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra has provided high quality musical performances to communities throughout the Pioneer Valley. The SSO is the largest professional orchestra in Massachusetts outside of Boston and is composed of approximately 80 musicians from the Pioneer Valley, Boston and New York areas.
You will also want to check out the Norman Rockwell Museum in nearby Stockbridge. It houses the world's largest and most significant collection of original Rockwell art. Highlights include enduring favorites from Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post covers, the powerful Four Freedoms, and the nostalgic Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas. The Norman Rockwell Archive contains more than 100,000 photographs, letters
The public school system is strong and features magnet schools among the many schools in the district. Many graduating students go on to college and Springfield is home to three 4-year colleges: Springfield College, Western New England College and American International College. The greater Springfield area is home to the Five Colleges: Amherst College, Mount Holyok College, Smith College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
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