Springfield (Massachusetts)Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, USA. It sits 24 miles (40 km) north of Hartford, Connecticut, and 5 miles(8 km) north of the Connecticut state line. Springfield and Hartford are the principal cities in the Knowledge Corridor - the second largest urban region in New England with 1.9 million people, 29 universities and colleges, and 120,000 university students.
With economic reinvestment, Springfield is experiencing a cultural renaissance. New festivals such as the "Hoop City Jazz Festival", the "Springfield Vintage Grand Prix," which is the Vintage Sports Car Club of America's official race; and Springfield's "Gay Pride Week". Renovations to Gilded Age theaters like the Paramount (formerly the Hippodrome,) the Bing Cultural Arts Center, and Springfield's increasingly eclectic Club Quarter have made the city more exciting than at any time in the past half-century.
On June 1, 2011, large portions of the Springfield were devasted by two tornadoes that touched down within city limits. The U.S. National Weather Service rated Springfield's first of two tornadoes an E4 on the Fujita Scale (out of a possible E5.) Springfield's historic Main Street, with its attractive 19th century architecture, was left in shambles - particularly the commercial district of the historically Italian South End, the historic district surrounding Mulberry Street (of Dr. Seuss fame), Springfield College, and Springfield's more suburban outer neighborhoods.
Located on New England's most fertile farmland in the Connecticut River Valley, at the mid-point of America's major Northeast trade routes between New York City, Boston, The Great Lakes, and Montreal, Canada, the City of Springfield (pop. 155,000) has been the technological and cultural center of the Connecticut River Valley since its founding in 1636. Having been burned to the ground during King Phillip's War in 1675, Springfield has rebuilt before.
It is nicknamed The City of Homes because of its ubiquitous Victorian architecture and The City of Firsts because of the numerous innovations that took place there during its first 375 years, including America's first American-English dictionary (1806), the first gasoline-powered car (1893), the first motorcycle (1901, Indian Motorcycles), modern fire engine and fire department (1905 & 1907), commercial radio station (WBZ AM & FM, 1920, located in the Kimball Towers), and UHF television station (1951, WWLP). Springfield is best known worldwide as the birthplace of the sport of basketball (James Naismith, 1891, located at Springfield College). The Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Springfield beside the Connecticut River, is a major, international tourist draw.
Springfield is a highly walkable city, even by urban, New England standards - most of its major sites are in the Metro Center neighborhood; however, much of the city's attractive Victorian residential architecture is focused in its street-car suburb neighborhoods (e.g., Forest Park Heights).
From the early 1800s until the 1960s, Springfield was one of the United States' most financially prosperous cities, as is reflected in its celebrated Victorian homes. The Springfield Armory, the site of which George Washington and Henry Knox selected, made the city a center of invention, industrial innovation, and precision manufacturing from 1777 onward for example, America's first musket (1794), the first use of interchangeable parts and the assembly line in manufacturing (1819), and the discovery of vulcanized rubber by Charles Goodyear (1844) all took place in Springfield.
In 1968, during the Vietnam War, the Pentagon controversially closed the Springfield Armory. The United States' military's loss, however, is a Springfield visitor's gain - the Springfield Armory National Park features the largest collection of historic firearms in the world.
The Armory's closing in tandem with the growth of the interstate highway system and resulting "White Flight" to the suburbs left Springfield reeling for approximately 35 years (1968-2003), as it searched for a new identity. Springfield reached its nadir during the late 1990s and early 2000s, when it became financially insolvent. Luckily for Springfield, the city's financial woes focused regional and national attention on it, the problems needed to be fixed, and its development potential. Numerous organizations, most notably the National Urban Land Institute, studied Springfield and submitted plans for its revitalization.
Part of Springfield's resurgence has been due, in part, to its increasingly complementary relationship with Hartford, Connecticut. The bi-state Knowledge Corridor Metropolitan Area has benefitted both Hartford and Springfield, which once competed over the companies and workers. Increasingly, Hartford is taking on its role as the Connecticut River Valley's financial center, with its post-modern skyline and relatively wide thoroughfares; in complement, Springfield is taking on its role as the Knowledge Corridor's recreational center, with its walkable, increasingly residential Metro Center, lively Club Quarter, and Victorian architecture. In cooperating, both cities found their post-industrial identities.
Since approximately 2007, Springfield has reaped the rewards of the ULI's Plan for Springfield. Economic investment in aesthetics, particularly in the three riverfront neighborhoods, have helped to increase liveliness. As of 2010, Springfield fell to 51st in the annual U.S. "City Crime Rankings" after ranking 18th in just 2003. Increased liveliness and decreased crime will improve any city's quality of life.
NeighborhoodsSpringfield's Metro Center is the highly walkable, cultural and business heart of the Pioneer Valley - a region of approximately 40 miles by 20 miles (64 km by 32 km) that follows the path of the Connecticut River and contains New England's finest farmland. It stretches from the border of Vermont in the north to the border of Connecticut in the south. Springfield's Metro Center is located 4 miles (6½ km) north of the Connecticut state border, and thus increasingly - in both governmental and popular perception - Hartford-Springfield is considered a single metropolitan area, (e.g. like Dallas-Fort Worth.) The two major Connecticut River cities' downtowns lie 24 miles (35 km) apart, with Bradley International Airport located halfway between them.
Metro Center features the Quadrangle, which includes three world-class museums - two art and one science museum - two regional history museums, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, and the palatial, neo-classical Springfield City Library. Metro Center is also home to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) at Symphony Hall; the highly-regarded CityStage theater; and 60 clubs, restaurants, and bars in its lively Club Quarter, surrounding Stearns Square and Worthington Street. Metro Center is bisected by Interstate 91, which limits access to the scenic Connecticut River.
The Basketball Hall of Fame is located on the riverfront in the nearby South End, but amputated from Metro Center and the rest of the city by Interstate 91. The South End is the focal point for Springfield's Italian community, featuring many Italian restaurants, pastry shops, and cultural institutions. The South End was hard hit by Springfield's June 1, 2011 tornado.
The North End comprises three separate neighborhoods, and is the center of Springfield's prominent and increasingly well-heeled Latino community. Springfield's three nationally ranked hospitals are located in the North End, as are several prominent parks (e.g. Van Horn Park.)
The McKnight District - known to urban planners worldwide as the United States' first planned residential district (1871) - contains over 900. Victorian "Painted Lady" houses. For decades it was the center Springfield's African-American and Jamaican communities; however, increasingly, McKnight and Metro Center have become centers of Springfield's increasingly prominent LGBT community. In 2011, The Advocate magazine rated Springfield #13 among the United States' new "gay cities."
Forest Park and Forest Park Heights contain numerous Victorian mansions, many of which surround Frederick Law Olmsted's 735-acre (430-ha) Forest Park -- one of the largest urban parks in the United States. This is where architectural aficionados should head to learn why Springfield is nicknamed "The City of Homes," as it features many parkways and elegant houses. Forest Park - the Olmsted park - contains a small but extensive zoo, a skating rink, 38 tennis courts, numerous sculptures, walking and hiking trails, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, tree groves, Victorian promenades and water gardens, a formal rose garden, paddle-boating and fishing on the 31-acre (12-ha) Porter Lake, bocce courts, lawn bowling fields, and the Barney Mansion restaurant and banquet hall, among other features.
Springfield is the most centrally located city in New England, between major tourist destinations like New York City, Boston, Vermont, the Berkshires, Upstate New York, and Canada. It features access from every direction, via every sort of transportation. Bradley International Airport is located 12 miles (19 km) south of Springfield (equidistant to Springfield's twin city, Hartford, Connecticut.) Westover Metropolitan Airport is located 5 miles (8 km) north of Springfield in the City of Chicopee, Massachusetts.
The City of Springfield is a major railroad and bus nexus, with trains and buses arriving from all directions.
Springfield Union StationThis is a restored historic station, located at 66 Lyman St. The station is integrated with the local and regional transportation hub. Amtrak serves the station via several routes. There are four daily departures on the Shuttle service between Springfield and New Haven, where connections to frequent high speed trains can be made. Travel time is around 1½ hour and the train stops in Hartford on its way. Additionally, there is one daily Northeast Regional train, from Washington, D.C. and New York City. The Vermonter between NYC and St. Albans, Vermont and the overnight Lake Shore Limited from Boston to Chicago also stops here.
By busPeter Pan Bus goes to Boston 9 times a day ($18-22, between 1hr30min and 2hr45min, depending on the time of the day) but it can often run into traffic on the Mass Pike (Interstate 90).
Peter Pan and Greyhound provide bus service from Albany, and points further west.
- Bradley International Airport, , 12 miles south of Springfield in Windsor Locks, Connecticut; this major airport serving the Knowledge Corridor region surrounding Springfield and Hartford, Connecticut is equidistant from both cities.
- Westover Metropolitan Airport, , 4 miles north of Springfield in the City of Chicopee, Massachusetts. Westover is one of New England's largest military facilities; however, its runways are also used for commercial flights.
By carSpringfield is accessible via Interstate 90 aka "The Mass Pike," (east-west from Boston to Albany, NY;) Interstate 91, (north-south from the Canadian border to New Haven, Connecticut;) and Interstate 291 (a connector from I-90 through Chicopee to Springfield.)
Springfield is one of the Northeast's most walkable cities. Most of its historic sites, points of interest, and entertainment venues are clustered in the Metro Center neighborhood (aka downtown, where the skyscrapers are.) Thanks to Springfield's recent economic and cultural resurgence, tourist sites are well marked, as are many architecturally significant buildings. The Basketball Hall of Fame and Forest Park - both of which are well worth visiting - are Springfield's only major tourist sites outside of Metro Center; however, the Basketball Hall of Fame is within walking distance (it's less than a mile south of Metro Center, along the Connecticut River.)
If you'd like to explore Springfield beyond Metro Center - perhaps experience Frederick Law Olmsted's Forest Park, his largest work next to NYC's Central Park - or further explore the artsy Pioneer Valley (maybe check out bohemian Northampton or Amherst, one of America's best-known university towns,) the clean, green, and reliable Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) offers service to every Springfield neighborhood, and throughout the Pioneer Valley's cities and towns north to Amherst. For $1.25 on the PVTA, you can ride the 15 miles (25 km) from Springfield to the counter-culture mecca of Northampton, or the 18 miles (30 km) to student-centric Amherst, and vice versa. Many of the routes that do not serve major points do not run after 7-8PM. Service on weekends is limited, especially on Sundays, when intervals between buses can be up to 2 hours. Check the schedule of the bus route your using.
Many use the PVTA or taxis to get to Springfield's attractions directly across the Connecticut River, like Six Flags New England and New England's State Fair, The Big E, Stanley Park, Holyoke Mall.
Crime has fallen dramatically in Springfield, but be aware of where you are at all times. Avoid walking around Bay-McKnight, Mason Square, and certain parts of the North and South End late at night.
address: West Columbus Av.Along the Connecticut River, in a stunning (and quirky) steel structure, it's a shrine to basketball in its birthplace.
phone: +1 413 734-8551address: 1 Armory St.The site that George Washington hand-selected for America's first armory, where the first American musket was made, and where the famous Springfield Rifle was made for several centuries. Half of the site is now a scenic United States National Park and museum, featuring one of the largest collections of firearms in the world. Behind the National Park is the reasonably scenic campus of Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), which occupies several former Armory buildings.
address: 220 State StA remarkable cultural grouping that consists of 5 museums, several of which are considered "world-class", the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, and the palatial Springfield City Library. The Museum of Fine Arts features a vast collection of European Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including works by Monet, Degas, and Gauguin; and also, a large collection of American painters, including Springfielders Whistler and Harding. The Museum of Science features the United States' first-ever planetarium (built in 1937,) a large dinosaur exhibit, and replicas of exotic ecosystems. The George Walter Vincent Smith Museum is known worldwide for having the largest collection of Chinese cloisonné outside of China. It also features sets of ancient, Asian armor. The Connecticut Valley History Museum tells the story of the fertile river valley that spawned the two great cities of Springfield and Hartford. The Quadrangle's newest addition is the Museum of Springfield History, which tells the story of "The City of Firsts": where the first American-English dictionary, first gasoline-powered automobile, first motorcycle, first modern fire engine, first commercial radio station, and first UHF television were invented (among other innovations). Visitors will leave astonished by how great the relatively small City of Springfield has contributed to modern culture.
- The Springfield Vintage Grand Prix, hosted by the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (www.vscca.org).
phone: +1 413 733-2291address: 1350 Main Street at Court SquareHoused in Springfield's beautiful, gilded-age Symphony Hall - one of only a handful of locations in the United States renowned for "perfect acoustics" - the highly regarded Springfield Symphony Orchestra is led by Maestro Kevin Rhodes. Rhodes is a true showman, known for his stage presence and innovative musical selections.
address: 1350 Main Street on Court SquareSpringfield's most well-known theatre organization features plays, musicals, traveling Broadway shows, comedians, and lecturers. Programming varies widely.
phone: +1 413 787-6600 (box office for info only)address: 1277 Main StreetThe MassMutual Center is an arena and convention center. Springfield's NBA Development League team, the Springfield Armor, play home basketball games here, as do Springfield's AHL hockey team, the Springfield Thunderbirds. The arena's capacity is over 7,000.
address: Main Street at Court SquareJuly. Annual Hoop City Jazz Festival presented by community stewards Hampden Bank. Expected to draw over 25,000 people.
- The Club Quarter - Over 60 nightclubs, bars, LGBT-oriented bars and clubs, and restaurants line the blocks surrounding Stearns Square and Worthington Street near the Connecticut River. Upper Worthington, west of Chestnut Street, remains a "Club Quarter;" however, much of that entertainment is rated X.
- The Connecticut River Walk - near the Basketball Hall of Fame, one can access this pleasant park and marvel at the Connecticut River scenic beauty. It's difficult to find an entrance to this park due to the inhibiting presence of Interstate 91 - a highway that virtually amputates Springfield from recreational opportunities on the Connecticut River. If you can find your way in, bring a partner at night.
address: Sumner AvenueOne of the largest urban parks in the United States at 735 acres (295 ha), Forest Park was established via the donations of Springfielders like skating blade magnate Everett Hosmer Barney (whose family mausoleum is in Forest Park.) Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead of NYC's Central Park fame, Forest Park offers amenities including a sizable zoo, America's first public swimming pool, picturesque gardens, hiking and walking trails, athletic fields, whimsical sculptures (one can see where Dr. Seuss got his inspiration), and camping facilities. During the winter it serves as the venue for Bright Nights, a nationally known holiday light display.
Bright NightsIn Forest Park, a nationally known, innovative, creative lighting display in Springfield's Forest Park, featuring various themes during the holiday season (Christmas, Chanukah, Dr. Seuss' characters, etc.) Nearly 2 miles, cars and buses drive through the lighting display, which seems to become more intricate each year. Bright Nights usually impresses both children and adults. November-January.
The Zoo at Forest ParkThe Zoo at Forest Park features a wide variety of exotic and indigenous creatures found throughout North America and the world. Lions, kangaroos, reptiles, and birds of all sorts populate this well-maintained zoo.
- American International College: A university located in Springfield's Mason Square neighborhood, notable for America's first "Model Congress" program.
- Springfield College: Founded in 1885 as Y.M.C.A. International College, basketball was invented at this institution by Dr. James Naismith. In addition to basketball, America's first physical education course was taught here in 1912. A $50-million student center was constructed here in 2011.
- Springfield Technical Community College: Located on 35 acres behind the Springfield Armory National Park, surrounded by the Armory's distinctive wrought-iron fence, STCC is Massachusetts' only "technical" community college. STCC continues Springfield's tradition of technical innovation.
- Tufts University School of Medicine: Baystate Health serves as the western teaching campus of Tufts University's School of Medicine.
- University of Massachusetts Urban Design Center: UMass opened an urban design center in Springfield in 2010, where it houses its urban design graduate program.
- Western New England University: University in Springfield's suburban Sixteen Acres neighborhood, featuring a pretty campus, prominent law school, and a new pharmacy school.
- Main Street features hundreds of shops and of restaurants.
- State Street features many ethnic shops and restaurants.
- Eastfield Mall on Boston Road has a large movie theater and all that one would normally expect of an American mall.
Red Rose Pizzeriaaddress: 1060 Main StreetAn Italian, South End classic! Truly excellent pizza, pasta, and meatballs. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright claims that Red Rose has "the best meatballs in the world."
address: 254 Worthington StreetExcellent Italian restaurant on Stearns Square, in the heart of Springfield's entertainment district. Adolfo's, named for a well-known former Springfield Mafia Don, is one of the city's best restaurants.
Family Kitchenaddress: 19 St. James AvDaily 6AM-7PM. Come for a full breakfast (includes grits). Ask for the chicken & waffles.
The Student Princeaddress: 8 Fort StreetGerman food, locally famous. Make sure you get a good look at the truly massive collection of steins on the walls.
address: 1000 West Columbus BoulevardBeside the Basketball Hall of Fame. Serving exceptional American fare.
address: 280 Memorial AvenueIn West Springfield, according to the Food Network, the White Hut is one of "The Top 10 Burger Restaurants" in America. Serving burgers and hot dogs in the most Spartan setting imaginable. Across the Memorial Bridge on Memorial Avenue in West Springfield, it's well worth the trip.
address: 350 Worthington StreetLocated next to Springfield institution, The Mardi Gras, the 350 Grille is Springfield's see-and-be-seen lunch destination for local movers-and-shakers. The atmosphere is upscale but not pretentious, just like the food. It has a patio so diners can enjoy sunny days or moonlit nights.
address: 1000 West Columbus BoulevardInside the Basketball Hall of Fame. Classy but casual Italian, located conveniently inside the Basketball Hall of Fame. Pazzo's is owned by the owners of the Italian South End's former Ristorante Carmela. Pazzo's features Pazzo's After Dark, nightly entertainment, Las Vegas style.
Pho Saigonaddress: 398 Dickinson StExcellent Vietnamese soups and entrees. Though not as widely known as other city restaurants it has a prominent cult following; visit and you will understand why.
address: 90 Williams StreetIn Springfield's South End (its "Little Italy"), diners have an excellent selection of Italian food from which to choose - and Frigo's stands out above most of them. Its lasagne is amazing. Frigo's chef offers popular Italian cooking classes.
address: 988 Main StreetBe sure to stop in and visit Milano Imported Fine Foods in the South End of Springfield. From the finest in imported olive oils and Italian tomatoes to fresh deli meats and cheeses and homemade pasta, this is the area's best Italian Import Store.
Mom and Rico'saddress: 899 Main StreetThis is a nifty little Italian grocer with a small takeout buffet. They have lots of Italian food specialties along with some local favorites like sauce and meatballs and more. At the buffet you can get anything from Fettuccine Alfredo to Eggplant Parm. You can take it with you to heat later, or they'll heat it for you to eat right away.
address: 883 Main StreetIf you have a sweet tooth, make sure to check out La Fiorentina Pastry Shop in Springfield. When you taste one of their freshly baked pastries, you'll understand perfectly why they've been around since 1947.
Sitar Restaurantaddress: 1688 Main StreetSpringfield's most popular Indian restaurant, Sitar is the more elegant sister of Sitar Restaurant by Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Known for its Tandoori specialties, including lamb saag and Navratan Korma.
address: 684 Belmont AvenueFor breakfast and brunch only, 3 Cafe uses eggs from its own organically-raised, free-ranged chickens, and bakes its own bread continually. The food is as local as it gets, as fresh as it gets, and spectacularly good.
Salsa's Gourmet Mexicanaddress: 403 Dickinson St.Authentic, and tasty, Mexican and Central American food. Stop in for lunch and order authentic Mexican Coca-Cola with your meal.
address: 201 Worthington StreetNamed "The Best Blues Club in the United States" by the Blues Foundation and Keeping the Blues Alive, Theodore's is a regional draw for music, food, and libations. Its baby back ribs are smoked for six hours.
address: 91 Taylor StreetWith over 300 "Gras Girls" from around the world on monthly rotation and even its own magazine, the Mardi Gras Club is one of the East Coast's largest and most lavish "gentlemen's clubs." Every Thursday night is "bull-riding night," although each night features specialties.
address: 382 Dwight StreetAn LGBT bar in Springfield's Club Quarter, catering to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people - and anyone of any orientation, really - is, according to its slogan, "where old friends... meet new friends." Downstairs, adventurous patrons will fine "The Quarry," which features drag shows, and all-male revues.
address: 397 Dwight StreetAn LGBT dance club in Springfield's Club Quarter catering to a crowd between 18 and 35. Often Oz will feature karaoke, drag shows, and best DJs.
Pureaddress: 234 Chestnut StreetNeighborhood LGBT bar with free pool all day and night. Hosts a popular bunch on Sundays.
address: 240 Chestnut StreetA club featuring nude male dancers, patronized by men and women (but mostly men.)
address: 232 Worthington StreetA college crowd generally gathers at Fat Cat Bar & Grill. Live rock every Tuesday night. Other nights feature DJs. Hot bartenders are the draw, as is a patio that is particularly pleasant during the summer and fall.
Samuel'sA sports bar featuring an extensive wine list and bar.
Alumni Clubaddress: 90 Worthington StreetA popular bar with three separate levels (each generally playing different music to suit one's mood), a dance floor, stage, outdoor patio, and a smoker's area, the Alumni Club is very popular among a variety of different crowds.
address: 10 Stearns SquareThree clubs - Skybar, Pure, and Vivid on three levels, offering a different atmosphere for everyone. Features a VIP Lounge.
phone: +1 413 781-7111address: 2 Boland Way
phone: +1 413 781-1010address: One Monarch PlaceSpringfield’s largest hotel, Sheraton Springfield offers 325 guest rooms featuring the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bedding, with Internet access, a spacious work area and in-room coffee.
phone: +1 413-886-8000address: 800 Hall of Fame Ave
RadioRadio stations serving the Springfield area include:
- News/Talk: WFCR 88.5 FM (NPR), WHYN 560 AM (conservative)
Television stations serving Springfield include:
- WSHM Channel 21: CBS.
- WWLP Channel 22: NBC.
- WGGB Channel 40: ABC.
- WGBY Channel 57: PBS.