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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Springfield (Massachusetts)

< Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition

SPRINGFIELD, a city of the United States, the county seat of Hampden county, Massachusetts, on the east bank of Connecticut river, opposite West Springfield, with which it is connected by road and railway bridges. By rail it is 98 miles west by south of Boston on the route to Albany, and it forms a very important railway junction. The western part of Springfield is built on low and level ground, the eastern on the ascent from the river valley. The streets are wide and well shaded with elm and maple. A United States arsenal (founded 1777) and armoury (1794), employing some 460 hands, is the largest in the republic. The Springfield breech-loading rifle of 45 calibre has been the regulation pattern in the United States army since 1873. A pistol-factory, car-works, manufactories of cotton and silk goods, buttons, needles, envelopes, paper, watches, skates, and brass-work may be mentioned among the industrial establishments. The city hall (1855), a Romanesque building with an audience-room capable of holding 2700 persons; the city free library (1871), a Gothic building of brick, which contains 56,000 volumes and a museum; the granite court-house; the Roman Catholic cathedral of St Michael; Christ Church, Episcopal; the Church of the Unity, a fine Gothic structure in brown stone; the South Congregational church; the office of the Boston and Albany Railroad, a massive granite block; and the high school are among the chief architectural features of the city. Races are held in Hampden Park by the riverside. The population was 15,199 in 1860, 26,703 in 1870, 33,340 in 1880 (775 coloured), and 37,577 in 1885.

Springfield was settled in 1636 by William Pynchon and

emigrants from Roxbury,—the determination of the founder being to limit the “town” to forty or at most fifty families. The name was at first Agawam; but the present designation was adopted in 1641 in memory of Springfield (Essex), Pynchon's residence in his native country, England, to which he was obliged to return in 1652 to escape the clerical persecution called forth by his book on the Meritorious Price of Christ's Redemption. The town was burned by the Indians in 1675; and in 1787 the arsenal was attacked by Shays's rebels. The opening of the Boston and Albany Railroad in 1839 was the beginning of rapid development, and the town was made a city in 1852. The manufacture of firearms carried on here

during the Civil War, 1861-65, gave the city a great impulse.