Springfield is a city in Western New England, and the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. Springfield sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River near its confluence with three rivers; the western Westfield River, the eastern Chicopee River, and the eastern Mill River. As of the 2010 Census, the city's population was 153,060. Metropolitan Springfield, as one of two metropolitan areas in Massachusetts (the other being Greater Boston), had an estimated population of 698,903 as of 2009.
The first Springfield in the New World, it is the largest city in Western New England, and the urban, economic, and cultural capital of Massachusetts' Connecticut River Valley (colloquially known as the Pioneer Valley). It is the third-largest city in Massachusetts and fourth-largest in New England, after Boston, Worcester, and Providence, Rhode Island. Springfield has several nicknames – The City of Firsts, because of its many innovations (see below for a partial list); The City of Homes, due to its Victorian residential architecture; and Hoop City, because basketball - one of the world's most popular sports - was invented in Springfield.
Hartford, the State of Connecticut's capital city, lies only south of Springfield, on the western bank of the Connecticut River. Bradley International Airport, which sits south of Metro Center Springfield, is Hartford-Springfield's airport. The Hartford-Springfield region is known as the Knowledge Corridor because it hosts over 160,000 university students and over 32 universities and liberal arts colleges – the second-highest concentration of higher-learning institutions in the United States. The City of Springfield itself is home to Springfield College; Western New England University; American International College; and Springfield Technical Community College, among other higher educational institutions.
Springfield was founded in 1636 by English Puritan William Pynchon as "Agawam Plantation" under the administration of the Connecticut Colony. In 1641 it was renamed after Pynchon's hometown of Springfield, Essex, England, following incidents that precipitated the settlement joining the Massachusetts Bay Colony. During its early existence, Springfield flourished as both an agricultural settlement and trading post, although its prosperity waned dramatically during (and after) King Phillips War in 1675, when Natives laid siege to it and burned it to the ground.
The original settlement – today's downtown Springfield – was located atop bluffs at the confluence of four rivers, at the nexus of trade routes to Boston, Albany, New York City, and Montreal, and with some of the northeastern United States' most fertile soil. In 1777, Springfield's location at numerous crossroads led George Washington and Henry Knox to establish the United States' National Armory at Springfield, which produced the first American musket in 1794, and later the famous Springfield rifle. From 1777 until its closing during the Vietnam War, the Springfield Armory attracted skilled laborers to Springfield, making it the United States' longtime center for precision manufacturing. The near-capture of the U.S. Arsenal at Springfield during Shays Rebellion of 1787 led directly to the formation of the U.S. Constitutional Convention.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, Springfielders produced many innovations, including the first American-English dictionary (1805, Merriam Webster); the first use of interchangeable parts and the assembly line in manufacturing, (1819, Thomas Blanchard;) the first American horseless car, (1825, Thomas Blanchard;) the discovery and patent of vulcanized rubber, (1844, Charles Goodyear;) the first American gasoline-powered car, (1893, Duryea Brothers); the first successful motorcycle company, (1901, "Indian"); one of America's first commercial radio stations, (1921, WBZ, broadcast from the Hotel Kimball); and most famously, the world's second-most-popular sport, basketball, (1891, Dr. James Naismith).
Springfield underwent a protracted decline during the second half of the 20th century, due largely to: the decommission of the Springfield Armory in 1969; poor city planning decisions, such as the location of the elevated I-91 along the city's Connecticut Riverfront; and overall decline of industry throughout the northeastern U.S. During the 1980s and 1990s, Springfield developed a national reputation for crime, political corruption and cronyism, which stands in stark contrast to the reputation it enjoyed throughout much of U.S. history. During early 21st Century, Springfield sought to overcome its downgrade in reputation via long-term revitalization projects, and undertook several large-but-unfinished projects, including a $1 billion high-speed rail (New Haven-Hartford-Springfield high-speed rail;) a proposed $1 billion MGM Casino; and various other construction and revitalization projects.
Springfield was part of Middlesex County when it was formed in 1641, then in 1662 it became part of the new County of Hampshire. In 1812 when Hampshire County was split Springfield became part a new county of Hampden. One of the effects of this is that all the early probate records for what was Hampshire county ended up in Northampton the new County seat for Hampshire County, including two towns that are now part of Connecticut Suffield & Enfield. All of the early land records for the county ended up in Springfield.
Suffield & Enfield moved to Connecticut in 1749, so if you are looking for early probate records from Springfield, Suffield, Enfield, or Northampton they are in Northampton. If you are looking for early land records from Springfield, Suffield, Enfield, or Northampton they are in Springfield.
Image Gallery: Springfield College