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Springfield, Massachusetts

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Template:US City infobox Springfield is a city in Massachusetts. It is the county seat of Hampden CountyTemplate:GR, although Hampden County exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 152,082. A July 1, 2003 Census estimate put the city's population at 152,157, making it the third largest in Massachusetts. The city is the largest (and also historically the first) city called Springfield in the United States. It is also the largest city on the Connecticut River and the largest city in Western Massachusetts and the Pioneer Valley, and is home to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Contents

History

Springfield was founded in 1636 by William Pynchon, the then assistant treasurer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The town was named after the city in England where he was born.

It was a small working town when in 1675, during King Philip's War, its security was threatened. 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, Metacom, known as Philip to the colonists, started war with the colony to avenge his brother's death -- the tribe attacked Springfield and destroyed more than half the town.

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. In 1787 poor farmers from western Massachusetts, led by Daniel Shays, tried to seize the arms at Springfield. This came to be known as Shay'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.

The term Springfield rifle may refer to any sort of arms produced by the Springfield Armory for the United States armed forces.

In 1852, Smith and Wesson, America's largest producer of handguns, was founded in Springfield -- it remains headquartered there.

In 1852, Massachusetts incorporated Springfield as a city.

In 1893, two Springfielders named Charles and Frank Duryea built the first ever gasoline powered commercial car in Springfield. The Duryea Motor Wagon was put on the streets of Springfield on September 20 of that year.

Springfield is known as the City of Homes, a nickname given to it in the late 19th century due to its many Victorian mansions, as well as multitudes of single-family houses inhabited by workers.

The city of Springfield is most commonly known as the birthplace of basketball. In 1891, James Naismith, a physical education teacher in Springfield, invented the sport at the Springfield YMCA, to fill the gap between the football and baseball seasons. (On February 17, 1986, The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was opened on the banks of the Connecticut River. In 2002 a new facility for the Hall of Fame opened next to the existing sit. Shaped like a basketball and illuminated at night, it has become an interesting addition to the cityscape.)

In 1901, the Indian Manufacturing Company, America's first motorcycle brand, was founded by George M. Hendee and C. Oscar Hedstrom in Springfield -- two years before Harley Davidson Motor Company.

In 1936, Springfield suffered the most devastating natural disaster in its history. Massive flooding experienced across the Northeast led to Connecticut River to reach record heights. The city's South and North Ends received the brunt of the damage. Where I-91 is today were once houses. Water levels rose high enough to completely submerge first floors of buildings particularly in that area. Though damages were estimated at $200,000,000 in 1936 dollars, the area underwent a sizeable recovery following the flood. Being the height of the Great Depression, Western Massachusetts and Springfield being hit quite hard, many were out of work. Thankfully, with the help of the WPA money was made available to rebuild the city's water-damaged infrastructure.

Springfield is the birthplace of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, and drug pioneer Timothy Leary, among others.

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SpringfieldMass.JPG
Downtown Springfield with City Hall in front and Monarch Place (skyscraper) located behind.

For nearly six decades, Springfield has been slumping economically, due largely to a decline in manufacturing. Many major companies that maintained factories in the city closed their facilities, moving to the suburbs or out of New England all together. In 1968, the Springfield Armory was closed by the Pentagon, dealing what, up to that point, had been one of the most significant economic setbacks to the city since the Great Depression. This process continued into 2005 with the closure of the Danaher Tool forge, maker of Craftsman tools.

Many residents moved to the suburbs to escape inner-city crime and urban decay. Because manufacturing had been a large part of Springfield's economy, it proved difficult to fill the void with a service-based economy, more so than in similar cities with more diversified economies. Local department stores, Forbes & Wallace and Steigers, shuttered in 1974 and 1994 respectively. Johnsons Bookstore closed a few years later, though this was due less to a decline in retail downtown than competition from chain bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble. A downtown revitalization project known as Baystate West, was completed in 1973, but over the years it too became empty. The construction contributed to Springfield's somewhat modern (1970s-era) skyline. The Eastfield Mall, built on Springfield's outskirts in 1969, proved more successful. However, it suffered a decline after the Holyoke Mall was opened in the 1980s. Over the past five years, the mall has rebounded; consequently, Springfield's largest retail area is now on Boston Road, on the northeastern edge of the city, rather than downtown, which is now home to many adult entertainment establishments. Downtown can be unsafe in some places, especially after midnight. The Quadrangle, an extraordinary grouping of museums and sculpture gardens, remains a testament to the city's nineteenth-century grandeur.

In July of 2004, the Massachusetts General Court created, at the city's request, a state-run Finance Control Board to correct the city's financial crisis. The fiscal problems had already resulted in a controversial wage-freeze, cuts in city services, fee increases, and layoffs including police and firefighters. The board consisted of the mayor, city council president, and three members appointed by the Governor. The board was seen as an obvious preference to receivership, which would strip all home rule from the city. To the dismay of many citizens, the three appointed members were all from the Boston area. Many citizens found this unfair and accused the board of being "state-dominated" and out of touch with the needs of the city's residents, employees, and businesses. Included in the Control Board legislation was a state loan of $52 million to be paid back with collection of delinquent taxes. Receivership may still occur if the Control Board fails.

Geography

Springfield is located at 42°6'45" North, 72°32'51" West (42.112411, -72.547455)Template:GR.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 86.0 km² (33.2 mi²). 83.1 km² (32.1 mi²) of it is land and 2.8 km² (1.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 3.31% water.

Springfield sits on the bank of the Connecticut River, just a few miles north of the Massachusetts-Connecticut State Line. Along the River, the city is fairly low and flat. Moving outward from the river, the terrain becomes more hilly most prominently along State Street and Belmont Avenue.

Springfield is usually divided up into seventeen distinct neighborhoods. They are, as defined by the city Election commission, Bay, Boston Road, Brightwood, East Forest Park, East Springfield, Forest Park, Indian Orchard, Liberty Heights, McKnight, Memorial Square, Metro Center, Old Hill, Pine Point, Six Corners, Sixteen Acres, South End, and Upper Hill. Their exact boundaries are disputed by Census data, civic wards and precincts borders, zip codes, and the opinions of the city's citizens. Many of the neighborhoods are subdivided again according to landmarks or voting precincts. Some names that are unofficial, but are used by area residents nonetheless. For example, the Hollywood section in the South End actually refers to a housing complex and Mason Square is the central intersection in the McKnight neighborhood.

Forest Park lies in the southwestern part of the city, along the border with affluent Longmeadow. The park is one of the largest municial parks in the United States. The city shares borders with the towns of East Longmeadow, Wilbraham, and Ludlow and the city of Chicopee. It also borders cities of Agawam and West Springfield from across the Connecticut River.

Demographics

As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 152,082 people, 57,130 households, and 36,391 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,829.3/km² (4,737.7/mi²). There are nearly 1.5 million residents in the greater Springfield-Hartford metro region. In Springfield proper, there are 61,172 housing units at an average density of 735.8/km² (1,905.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 56.11% White, 21.01% African American, 0.37% Native American, 1.92% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 16.45% from other races, and 4.04% from two or more races. 27.18% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 57,130 households out of which 33.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.7% are married couples living together, 23.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% are non-families. 30.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.57 and the average family size is 3.19.

In the city the population is spread out with 28.9% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 89.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 84.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $30,417, and the median income for a family is $36,285. Males have a median income of $32,396 versus $26,536 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,232. 23.1% of the population and 19.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 33.9% of those under the age of 18 and 11.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Law and Government

Springfield became a city on May 25, 1852 by decree of the Massachusetts Legislature.

Springfield, like all municipalities in Massachusetts enjoys limited home rule. Prior to the Control Board, Springfield's government had the power to establish commissions, pass city ordinances, set tax rates, write a budget, and other miscellaneous operations specifically relating to the city. The current city charter, in effect since 1954, uses a "strong mayor" government with most power concentrated in the mayor as in Boston and elsewhere. The mayor representing the city's executive branch, presents the budget, appoints commissioners and department heads, and in general runs the city. The current Mayor, Charles Ryan, was also mayor during the 1960s.

The City Council, consisting of nine members, is the city's legislative branch. Each of the members are elected at-large, along with the mayor every odd numbered year. It passes the budget, authorizes bond sales, holds hearings, create departments and commissions, and amends zoning laws. The city council appoints a president who becomes acting mayor should a vacancy occur in the office.

Current Springfield City Council:

  • William T. Foley
  • Daniel D. Kelly
  • Rosemarie Mazza-Moriarty
  • Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr.
  • Timothy J. Rooke, President
  • Domenic J. Sarno
  • Jose Tosado
  • Kateri Walsh
  • Bud L. Williams

Recently, efforts have been made to provide each of the city's eight wards a seat in the city council, instead of the current at-large format. There would still be about three at-large seats under this format. The primary argument for this has been that City Councilors currently live in only four of the city's wards. Thus far, the initiative has failed to pass the City Council twice. If ever passed, it would still need the approval of the Massachusetts legislature and the Governor. Many critics argue that the slim Caucasian majority in Springfield keeps the city council out of touch with the needs of Springfield's large black and Hispanic populations. Striking against that argument is that nothing deters blacks and Hispanics from running for office, nor does ward representation guarantee that they will. Some citizens believe that the problem might be corrected by greater voter turnout among blacks and Hispanics.

The city has no judicial branch itself, but rather uses the Springfield based state courts, which include Springfield district court and Hampden County Superior Court. The Massachusetts Federal District Court also hears cases regularly in Springfield.

Related topics

Education

Springfield is home to three 4-year colleges: Springfield College, Western New England College and American International College. On the grounds of the former Springfield Armory is Springfield Technical Community College. The greater Springfield area is home to the Five Colleges: Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts.

Springfield also has the third largest school district in Massachusetts operating 38 elementary schools, six high schools, and seven specialized schools. The city School Committee recently passed a new neighborhood school program to improve schools and reduce the growing busing costs associated with the current plan. The plan faces stiff opposition from parents and minority groups who claim that the schools are still unequal. The city has been required to bus students to achieve racial balance in the city. However, since then the city and the school's population has shifted and many of the neighborhoods are more integrated, calling into question the need for busing at all. The new plan still needs approval by the State Board of Education.

The city also has several private schools. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield operates six Catholic elementary schools in the city and many more in the diocese. The dioceses also runs Cathedral High School.

Media

Springfield's largest local newspaper is the Springfield Republican. It was formerly the Springfield Union-News & Sunday Republican. Smaller papers such as the The Reminder and the Valley Advocate also serve the Greater Springfield.

Major television stations originating from the city include WWLP (NBC), WGGB (ABC), and WGBY (PBS). Only the PBS and ABC broadcast from studios in the city proper. Also in the Springfield area are Univision WHTX and Telemundo WDMR. Other television stations serving Springfield originate from Hartford, Connecticut.

As of 2005 the Hartford CBS affiliate, WFSB began operating a CBS station aimed at the Springfield-Northampton market. Currently, the station simply bounces off WFSB's signal, omitting the local newscasts with Pioneer Valley weather. The stations's current call letters are WSHM. Its owners plan to open a studio somewhere in the region eventually.

Transportation

The Springfield-Hartford, Connecticut area is served by Bradley International Airport in nearby Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Springfield and Hartford are located 25 miles apart.

Springfield also has an Amtrak station served by trains destined for New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, Vermont, and Chicago. Plans exist for redevelopment of the city's Union Station on Frank B. Murray Street into an Intermodal Transportation facility for both Amtrak and bus lines. While significant federal, state, and civic investment has been appropriated for this project, disputes between the owners of the right-of-way and the planners in charge of the project, the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, have slowed progress.

Early estimates had the project scheduled for completion in 1998. As of late 2004, little work had been done other than sweeping up the interior and replacing old water and sewer lines in the building. In the mean time, Amtrak operates out of its own station facility built into one of the old platforms with an entrance on Lyman street, which lies on the side of the railroad embankment opposite the station. Buses running into the city use a facility owned and operated by Peter Pan Bus Lines, located on the corner of Main and Liberty streets.

Springfield is often referred to 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 (Mass Pike) and I-91, which connect New Haven, Hartford, Holyoke, Northampton, and Vermont to Springfield. The only spur of I-91 in Massachusetts, I-291, runs through the city connecting I-90 to I-91 since the turnpike does not actually enter the city.

Also see

External links

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