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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Springfield (Massachusetts)

< The American Cyclopædia (1879)

SPRINGFIELD, a city and the shire town of Hampden co., Massachusetts, on the E. bank of Connecticut river, opposite the town of West Springfield, with which it is connected by a railroad and a highway bridge and by ferry 80 m. W. by S. of Boston, and 120 m. N. N. E. of New York; pop. in 1850, 11,766; in 1860 15,199; in 1870, 26,703, of whom 6,930 were foreigners; in 1875, 31,053. It is noted for the great variety of its skilled industries, mostly dependent on steam power, and for the richness of its churches, of which five are built of stone and are of considerable architectural merit. Portions of the city are elevated and hilly, but along the river it is level. It is well built, and has wide streets shaded with elms and maples. The city hall is a noble building in the Romanesque style, and has a large public hall which will accommodate 2,700 persons. There are several other public halls, of which the music hall, seating 1,200, is the largest. The court house is a fine granite building, which cost $200,000. The city library contains 36,500 volumes. The new library building is one of the handsomest public edifices in the city. It is of brick, with facings of granite and Ohio stone, and cost with land about $100,000. Besides the library it contains a museum of natural history and antiquities. The new high school building is a fine structure of pressed brick, with trimmings of gray Ohio sandstone, three stories above the basement. Hampden park, on the bank of the Connecticut, contains 60 acres, with a costly dike to protect it from the spring freshets, and has a celebrated race course. The Springfield cemetery contains about 40 acres, with a great variety of shade trees and fountains. Springfield is an important railroad centre, four lines meeting in one large depot, each having extensive connections, viz.: the Boston and Albany, the New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, the Connecticut River, and the Springfield, Athol, and Northeastern. The United States armory employs from 500 to 700 men, chiefly in the manufacture of rifles and carbines. During the civil war about 3,000 men were employed. The arsenal, offices, storehouses, and principal shops occupy nearly the highest ground in the city, on State street, and command a fine view of the Connecticut valley. The grounds (72 acres) are enclosed with an iron fence and beautifully laid out with trees, shrubbery, and flowers. The arsenal contains about 275,000 stand of arms. The heavier work is done at the shops on Mill river. The germ of the armory existed during the revolution, but it was not formally established till 1794. Among the more important private manufactories are one of railroad cars, one of sporting arms, one of revolvers, several of steam engines, boilers, &c., two of gold chains, one of gold leaf, one of gold rings, three of buttons, two of card and glazed paper, one of blankets, one of cartridges, two of desks and counters, three of elevators, four of envelopes, one of corrugated iron, one of filters, several of furniture, three of hand stamps, four of hardware, one of gas machines, one of gilt moulding, several of harness, saddlery, and trunks, one of levels, two of mattresses, one of sewing machine needles, one of paint, three of paper boxes, one of collar paper, three of paper collars, two of rubber goods, one of sieves, two of show cases, one of skates, two of slippers, one of spectacles and thimbles, two of steam pumps, one of watches, one of woollens, five of brick, and one of boots and shoes, two cotton mills, and two brass founderies. The Morgan envelope company also manufacture fancy stationery and writing materials, and print the postal cards for the government. There are five book-publishing houses; eight national banks, with an aggregate capital of $2,950,000; three savings banks, with deposits to the amount of $8,500,000; and three insurance companies (two fire and one life). The city is divided into eight wards, and is governed by a mayor, a board of aldermen of one member from each ward, and a common council of 18 members. Water is supplied by works recently erected, there being three reservoirs for low service, with an aggregate capacity of 110,577,000 gallons, and one for high service, with a capacity of 2,132,817,000 gallons. The expenditures in 1874 amounted to $781,847, viz.: pauper department, $23,153 17; highways, $117,310 83; salaries, &c., $110,118 79; erection and repair of school houses, $81,849 78; fire department, $35,735 55; interest, $58,742 77; police, $29,046 63; sewers, $45,004 80; miscellaneous, $228,815 30. The valuation of property was $38,336,778; interest-bearing debt at the close of the year, $1,794,875. The principal charitable institutions are the almshouse, city hospital, home for women, and home for children. The public schools are under the general management of a committee of one member from each ward, and under the immediate supervision of a superintendent. In 1873-'4 there were 26 school houses, with a high school, 140 teachers, and an average attendance of about 4,000; current expenses, $110,185 79, of which $85,593 41 were for teachers' wages. Two newspapers with daily and weekly editions and two weeklies are published. There are 26 churches, viz.: 1 Adventist, 3 Baptist, 6 Congregational, 1 Episcopal, 5 Methodist, 5 Roman Catholic, 1 Spiritualist, 1 Swedenborgian, 1 Union Evangelical, 1 Unitarian, and 1 Universalist.—Springfield was first settled in 1635 by emigrants from Roxbury, who on May 14 drew up and signed an agreement for self-government. The place was first named Agawam, the Indian name of a river of West Springfield, which with several adjacent towns of the present day was then included in its boundaries. In 1637 a church was formed. In 1638 the settlers chose William Pynchon magistrate, and in April of the same year named the settlement Springfield, from the name of his residence in England. Mr. Pynchon returned to England in 1652; but his son John remained, and in 1662 erected the famous “Pynchon house,” the first brick house in the Connecticut valley, and long a fortress against the Indians. In 1675, during King Philip's war, the Indians burned the settlement, destroying about 30 houses and 25 barns. The growth of the town was slow till the opening of the Boston and Albany railroad in 1838. It was made a city in 1852.