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The New International Encyclopædia/Springfield (Massachusetts)

< The New International Encyclopædia

SPRINGFIELD. The county-seat of Hampden County, Mass., 98 miles west-southwest of Boston; on the Connecticut River, and on the Boston and Albany, the Boston and Maine, and the New York, New Haven and Hartford railroads (Map: Massachusetts, B 3). Several bridges here span the river. There are 498 acres in the public park system. Forest Park, the largest of the pleasure grounds, contains 464 acres. In Court Square are the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument and a statue of Miles Morgan. “The Puritan,” by Saint Gaudens, near the library, is a work of great merit. Among the prominent buildings of Springfield are some designed by H. H. Richardson, the most notable of which, perhaps, are the County Court-House and the Church of the Unity. The United States Arsenal is conspicuously situated within the extensive armory grounds. Some 1200 men are employed here in making rifles for the United States Government. (See Small Arms.) Other prominent structures are the railroad station, the Springfield Science Museum, Art Museum (containing the George Walter Vincent Smith collection, one of the best in the country), the City Hall, the Federal Government Building, the High School, and the Public Library. Springfield is the seat of the French-American College, opened in 1885, and of the International Y. M. C. A. Training School. The Public Library has more than 115,000 volumes. There are several other collections of books, among which is the Hampden County Law Library, dating from 1813. The most important charitable institutions include the State Almshouse. Springfield Hospital, Mercy Hospital, and the Hampden Homœopathic Hospital.

Springfield is a port of entry, its foreign trade in 1901 consisting of imports valued at $88,846. In the census year 1900 the various manufacturing industries had capital to the amount of $17,106,000, and an output valued at $21,207,000. The leading manufactures are foundry and machine-shop products, paper and envelopes, tobacco, cigars and cigarettes, brass castings, lumber and lumber products, buttons, electrical apparatus and supplies, confectionery, bicycles, automobiles, rubber and elastic goods, cotton and woolen goods, tools, etc. The government is vested in a mayor, annually elected, and a bicameral council. Springfield spends annually for maintenance and operation about $1,165,000, the principal items being: Schools, $360,000; interest on debt, $140,000; streets, $135,000; fire department, $97,000; police department, $68,000; municipal lighting, $67,000; and charitable institutions, $58,000. The water-works are owned and operated by the municipality. The system has cost $2,141,263. The net debt of the city in 1902 was $2,196,888; the assessed valuation of real and personal property, $74,338,927. The population in 1800 was 2312; in 1850, 11,766; in 1870, 26,703; in 1880, 33,340; in 1890, 44,179; in 1900, 62,059.

Springfield was first settled in 1636 by a party from Roxbury headed by William Pynchon. Until 1640, when it received its present name, it was known as Agawam. On October 4, 1675, during King Philip's War, it was attacked by Indians and burned. During Shays's Rebellion it was the scene (September, 1786) of a riot headed by Shays. Later (January 25, 1787) occurred a sharp skirmish between a small body of State militia and about 2000 insurgents led by Shays, the latter being easily defeated. In 1852 Springfield was chartered as a city. Consult: Green, Springfield, 1636-1886 (Springfield, 1888); Burt, The First Century of the History of Springfield, The Official Records from 1636-1736 (Springfield, 1898-99).