Westfield is a city in Hampden County, in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, United States. Westfield was first settled in 1660. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 41,094 at the 2010 census.
The area was originally inhabited by the Pocomtuc tribe, and was called Woronoco (meaning "the winding land"). Trading houses were built in 1639-40 by settlers from the Connecticut Colony. Massachusetts asserted jurisdiction, and prevailed after a boundary survey. In 1647, Massachusetts made Woronoco part of Springfield, Massachusetts. Land was incrementally purchased from the Native Americans and granted by the Springfield town meeting to English settlers, beginning in 1658. The area of Woronoco or "Streamfield" began to be permanently settled in the 1660s. In 1669 (OS), "Westfield" was incorporated as an independent town; in 1920, it would be re-incorporated as a city.
From its founding until 1725, Westfield was the westernmost settlement in Massachusetts Colony, and portions of it fell within the Equivalent lands. Town meetings were held in a church meeting house until 1839, when Town Hall was erected on Broad Street. This building also served as City Hall from 1920 to 1958. Due to its alluvial lands, the inhabitants of this area were entirely devoted to agricultural pursuits for about 150 years.
Early in the 19th century, manufacture of bricks, whips, and cigars became economically important. At one point in the 19th century, Westfield was a prominent center of the buggy whip industry, and the city is still known as the "Whip City." Other firms produced bicycles, paper products, pipe organs, boilers and radiators, textile machinery, abrasives, wood products, and precision tools. Westfield transformed itself from an agricultural town into a thriving industrial city in the 19th century, but in the second half of the 20th century its manufacturing base was eroded by wage competition in the U.S. Southeast, then overseas.
Meanwhile, with cheap land and convenient access to east-west and north-south interstate highways, the north side developed into a warehousing center to C & S Wholesale, Home Depot, Lowes and other corporations. South of the river, the intersecting trends of growth of Westfield State University and declining manufacturing changed the city's character. Students comprise some 15% of Westfield's population and the old downtown business district caters increasingly to them while mainstream shopping relocates to a commercial strip called East Main St., actually part of U.S. Route 20. A Home Depot Store and a Price-Rite were recently added to Westfield's wide array of shopping centers. These stores are located along Route 20.
Only four buildings exceed four stories. Until a major fire on January 6, 1952 the Westfield Professional Building covered half a downtown city block and was six stories tall. The entire building was consumed with extensive damage to neighboring buildings because fire department's ladder and snorkel vehicles weren't tall enough and the building did not have a sprinkler system. Subsequent zoning prohibited virtually all new construction over three stories, even after improvements in fire suppression technologies and vehicles became available. No building is allowed to be taller than the town's firetruck ladders.
In the early 20th century, Westfield was at the center of the Pure Food movement, an effort to require stricter standards on the production of food. Lewis B. Allyn, a Westfield resident and pure foods expert for McClure's, lived in Westfield until his murder. In 1906, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.