Friday, May 9, 2008

The Springfield Chronology: Settlement to City

This timeline of Springfield, Massachusetts, has been at best a sporadic project, but tends mostly to be one of those tasks I've forgotten that I set myself to, just another text file buried in a stack of virtual folders, large and bothersome to click through. Waiting for the rainy day of all rainy days. Or for the catalyst that will spur completion, whatever that may be.

In the meantime, here is the very unfinished (or should I say ongoing?) product for perusal. Partially, of course.

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1634 - William Pynchon, Henry Smith and John Burr are believed to have come west, selecting the location of the proposed settlement of Springfield before returning to Roxbury, Mass.

1635 - John Cable and John Woodcock arrive in Agawam from eastern Massachusetts, and spend the summer on the west side of the river. Warned by the Indians that the low-lying Agawam meadow where the men had built their house was frequently under water, it was decided by Springfield's early settlers to take root on the east side of the river.

1636 July 15 - Springfield is settled on land straddling both banks of the Connecticut river. The land was procured by settlers William Pynchon, Henry Smith, Pynchon's son-in-law, and John Burr, et al, in three lots jointly-owned and sold by 13 local Agawam Indians. Manhattan Island wasn't the only blue-light special in those years. The largest tract of land was purchased by the settlers for the bargain price of "ten Fathom of Wampam, Ten Coates, Ten howes, Ten hatchets and Ten knives." The other two parcels sold for less than half of the same.

1637 - Rev. George Moxon begins service as Springfield's first minister. Rev. Moxon served until 1651.

1638 - William Pynchon is appointed first magistrate of Springfield. Pynchon was relieved of his position in 1651 after angering the General Court with the publication of his controversial book, "The Meritorious Price of Man's Redemption." Accused of heresy, he returned to England shortly after.

1639 - Giles Smith, ancestor of Springfield arts and culture benefactor George Walter Vincent Smith, settles in Hartford, Conn.

1640 - Deacon Samuel Chapin arrives in Springfield around this time.

1640 - The first marriage recorded in Springfield takes place when Elizur Holyoke and Mary Pynchon, William's daughter, exchange vows.

1641 June 2 - Springfield is incorporated as a town.

1644 - Springfield's first board of selectmen takes office. Terms lasted two years. The members of the first board were, Henry Smith, Thomas Cooper, Henry Burt, Richard Sikes and Samuel Chapin.

1645 - The first meeting-house for church services outside of Boston is built in Springfield, near where First church stands today.

1647 - The territory of Springfield grows in size when the Massachusetts General Court adds to it the areas of: Westfield, Suffield, West Springfield, Agawam, Chicopee, Holyoke, Wilbraham, Hampden, Ludlow, Longmeadow, Somers, Enfield and part of Southwick.

1648 March - Part of Springfield is annexed to create Westfield from the "Woronoko" land Springfield had acquired per the General Court in 1647.

1649 - Springfield is caught up in the witchcraft hysteria of the day.

1651 - Mary Parsons is tried and acquitted of charges that she bewitched the Rev. Moxon's two daughters.

1660 - The Pynchon House, also known as 'the Fort,' and a place of safety within its brick walls for settlers harassed by the Indians, was built on Main street's west side sometime before 1660. The house served as a residence to the Pynchon family for over 170 years, and was razed sometime around 1831.

1659 - Rev. Peletiah Glover becomes Springfield's second minister, succeeding Rev. George Moxon, who had gone back to England with William Pynchon 7 years earlier, in 1652. Glover's service lasted 33 years, until his passing in 1692.

1662 - Hampshire county is established, the town of Springfield is selected as the county's shire town. The county was massive in area, encompassing all of Western Massachusetts, south State borderline to north, including what is now Worcester county. Court sessions are held alternately between Springfield and Northampton.

1662 - Springfield's first jail was built around this time, on what is now Maple street, simply known in 1662 as "the road on the brow of the hill." It was burnt down in 1675, along with much of the town, during King Philip's war.

1669 May 19 - Westfield's land area grows in size as Springfield's territory is annexed further.

1670 May 31 - The boundary between Springfield and Westfield is established.

1674 March - Ferry service is established on the Connecticut, south of the Agawam river. The ferry shuttled passengers, animals and freight across the river at this spot for almost 200 years, until the construction of the South-end bridge in 1879.

1675 October 16 - The village of Springfield is burned by Indians during the King Philip's War. Other than forts, almost all buildings in the village succumb to the onslaught of fire-arrows and fireballs aimed for their roofs.

1677 - A new jail opens to replace the previous jail, burned by Indians two years prior.

1679 June - The town of Springfield hires Thomas Stebbins to construct a schoolhouse at a cost of 14 pounds.

1685 - The boundary between Springfield and Northampton is established.

1723 - Court house erected.

1747 - Daniel Shays is born, probably in Hopkinton. Shays, mostly remembered for his part in what became known as Shays's Rebellion, was a captain in the 5th Massachusetts regiment during the Revolutionary War. He fought at Bunker Hill, Ticonderoga and Saratoga. He received a ceremonial sword from the Marquis de Lafayette at the end of the war in recognition of his bravery and dedication. It is said that Shays was later forced to sell the sword as a result of the dire financial circumstances that he and many other farmers and citizens faced at the end of the war. Shays died September 29, 1825.

1763 June 15 - The boundary between Springfield and Wilbraham is established.

1774 February 23 - The boundary between Springfield and West Springfield is established.

1774 February 28 - The town of Ludlow is created from the Stony Hill section of Springfield.

1775 - Moses Church is appointed postmaster.

1782 - Springfield's first newspaper, The Massachusetts Gazette and General Advertiser, goes into circulation. The paper was published by Babcock & Haswell.

1783 October 13 - The town of Longmeadow is established on former Springfield land.

1786 February - Judgements are filed against an astounding 333 debtors in the current county court's term, a sign of the difficult financial times many citizens faced after the Revolution. These court actions and the numerous foreclosures farmers and others faced prompted men like Daniel Shays and Luke Day to question the practices of the court and lenders, and to demand answers.

1786 August 29 - Northampton's courthouse proceedings are brought to a standstill by 1,500 armed men demanding debtors' rights in the face of rampant foreclosures and debtor's-prison terms issued as a result of the hard financial times the common man faced after the Revolutionary war. The lack of a common currency standard throughout the country at the time exacerbated the problem immensely. The following month, court proceedings are stymied in the same manner in Worcester and Springfield.

1786 September - Daniel Shays leads 600 men on a march on the courthouse in Springfield. The Supreme Judicial court session taking place was duly interrupted and subsequently adjourned. Although General Shepard and his troops were keeping a watchful eye on the protesters, no violence ensued between the troops and the marchers, and no one was taken into custody. As a result of this action and the previous month's action against the Northampton courthouse, it was decided to forego the October session of the court, meant to be held in Great Barrington. The writing of the United States Constitution was a direct result of these acts of civil disobedience.

1787 January 25 - The battle at the Springfield Armory during Shays's Rebellion, led by Pelham resident and distinguished Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays, is fought. Four of Shays's 1,500 men are killed. Shays had planned to take over the arsenal with the intention of fortifying his ammunition and arms-depleted forces to sustain their rebellion against unfair credit practices by lenders and the courts. Not a few of the rebels had served honorably in the Revolution only to come home to massive debt and in short order, the foreclosure of their farms and homes. Shays's ill-equipped forces proved to be no match for General Shepard's cannon and howitzer and, having never fired a shot against Shepard's 1,200 men, made a hasty retreat north after those guns were fired into their ranks.

1787 January 28 - Daniel Shays's army sets up camp in the cold and snow-covered town of Pelham on their retreat from Benjamin Lincoln's Massachusetts militia in the final days of Shays's Rebellion. Shays had led an unsuccessful assault on the arsenal at Springfield three days before. Lincoln and his men caught up to Shays in Pelham, and began negotiating the rebels' surrender. Shays and most of the men slipped out of the camp during the negotiations, leaving their spokesmen behind, and escaped north through the forest. A plan that a presumably angry Lincoln learned of well after the men had covered much distance.

1787 February 3 - Shays's Rebellion ends with Pelham resident Daniel Shays' and his mens' defeat in Petersham by General Benjamin Lincoln's militia, who manage to surprise the group while they are preparing breakfast. Shays and some of his men escaped to Vermont, and were assisted by the Ethan Allen, among others. Shays was later pardoned by Governor John Hancock.

1788 June 13 - Daniel Shays is pardoned for his part in Shays's Rebellion by Governor John Hancock. The Pelham resident later moved to New York where he resided until his death on September 29, 1825. He is buried in Springwater, NY.

1789 October - George Washington visits Springfield, reportedly viewing and approving of the current location of the arsenal while he was in town.

1792 - Ezra Weld is appointed postmaster.

1792 - Businessmen Jonathan Dwight and Colonel Thomas Dwight and partners open a gin distillery on Main street.

1792 - The town of Springfield purchases its first fire engine, the Lion, around this time.

1793 - James R. Hutchins is appointed postmaster.

1794 - John W. Hooker is appointed postmaster.

1794 - A fire club is formed, the forerunner to the fire department. Members manned the fire engine and were expected to keep two buckets and two fire bags (used to move possessions away from a fire) each in their homes.

1794, April - The arsenal at Springfield is established by an act of Congress.

1795 - With forty workers on the payroll, the arsenal commences producing small arms. The first year saw 245 muskets produced.

1797 June 11 - Wilbraham acquires through annexation the section of Springfield known as "The Elbows."

1800 - The Ames paper mill is established around this time.

1800 January 1 - James Byers, Jr. is appointed postmaster.

1805 October 30 - The first toll-bridge spanning the Connecticut river is opened. It was razed 9 years later, weakened by the river's relentless current and flooding to the point of instability. One account claims a heavy load of army supplies caused it to collapse. The right to construct and operate the toll-bridge was decided by lottery. The cost to construct the bridge was $36,270.

1806 July 29 - Daniel Lombard is appointed postmaster.

1810 - The population of Springfield is 2,767. The population of West Springfield is 3,109.

1812 - Part of Hampshire county is carved off to form Hampden county. Springfield is designated the shire town.

1813 - The county erects a house of correction on State street, where Classical high school now stands. The cost of the project was $14,164. The one and a half acres the jail occupied was purchased by the county for $500. The jail served the county for 74 years, until the York street jail was opened in 1887.

1814 - The Springfield bank is incorporated with $200,000 in capital stock.

1816 October 1 - The second toll-bridge is opened at a cost of $22,000. A lottery was held to determine who would build and operate the toll-bridge. The bridge became toll-free in 1872. The bridge was known as "Damon's Bridge," after its Northampton builder, Isaac Damon.

1818 - "Damon's Bridge," the second-toll-bridge built across the Connecticut River is damaged during Spring flooding and requires a partial rebuild. The bridge was closed when the Hampden County Memorial Bridge was built just downriver as a replacement, opening for traffic in 1922.

1820 - The population of Springfield is 3,970. The population of West Springfield is 3,246.

1821 - The county courthouse is erected in Springfield at a cost of $8,375.

1822 - The first American flint-lock gun is produced at the arsenal.

1824 - A side-brake fire engine called the Tiger joins the fire department's small fleet, purchased with money raised mostly through donations drummed up by George Dwight.

1824 - The main Armory buildings burn.

1825 September 29 - Death of Daniel Shays, leader of the 1786-87 Shays's Rebellion against unfair court and lending practices.

1827 - The Mutual Fire Assurance company is incorporated.

1827 - Voters approve construction of an (fire) engine house.

1827 - Springfield Institution for Savings is incorporated. Josiah Hooker was president of the bank at that time.

1829 - Albert Morgan is appointed postmaster.

1830 - The population of Springfield is 6,784.

1830 - A fire department is established in Springfield per act of the Massachusetts legislature.

1830 March 12 - The Massachusetts railroad corporation is established. The corporation's mission is to build a railroad between Boston and the Hudson river near Albany or Troy by January 1, 1835, passing through Springfield.

1830 June 5 - The boundary between Springfield and Ludlow is established.

1831 - Elijah Blake is named chief engineer of the fire department, which was formally established by the State legislature in 1830.

1831 June 23 - The Boston and Worcester railroad corporation is established. The incorporation is conditioned on a road completion before July 1, 1836.

1833 March 15 - The Western railroad corporation is established. The incorporation is charged with extending the western end of the Boston and Worcester railroad toward the State's western border.

1835 - The three-story brick structure at 3-7 Elm Street facing Court Square, one of the oldest buildings existing in Springfield, is built.

1837 - The population of Springfield is 9,234.

1839 April 5 - The Massachusetts legislature passes an act establishing the Hartford and Springfield railroad corporation. After many delays and extending legislative acts granted, five years later, the railroad is operational.

1839 October - The first train from Worcester arrives in Springfield.

1840 - Massachusetts' first superintendent of schools is appointed in Springfield in an attempt to quell tensions between the members of the 'organization of school districts', made up of local committees from every district, each bringing their own petty squabbbles or agendas to the bargaining table. The superintendent's position was eliminated about a year after its creation, a victim of negative public opinion. The district system was scrapped in 1855, in favor of a central school committee.

1841 May 24 - Trains start moving freight between Springfield and Chester Factories.

1842 - The percussion-lock gun takes the place of the flint-lock on the production line at the arsenal.

1842 - Col. Solomon Warriner is appointed postmaster.

1842 - The railroad between Springfield and Albany is complete and operational.

1842 February - English author Charles Dickens travels from Springfield to Hartford on the Connecticut river on a steamboat that served as a popular method of transportation at the time.

1842 March 1 - The Northampton and Springfield railroad corporation is formed to establish a connection between Northampton and Springfield.

1843 - The population of Springfield is 10,985.

1843 - Col. Harvey Chapin is appointed postmaster. Chapin was replaced shortly after by Galen Ames. He regained his position in 1845 after James Polk assumed the presidency and held it until 1849.

1843 - The Massasoit House is opened on Main street in Springfield.

1843 August - Charles Stearns begins a private water company, supplying dwellings and businesses via wooden pipes laid between Van Horn reservoir and Main street, and travelling as far as Bliss street.

1843 October - The Springfield Young Men's institute is established. The institute was a precursor to the city library and had a library of its own of 2,000 volumes at the time.

1844 - The Hartford and Springfield railroad is fully operational.

1844 - The Hampden agricultural society is incorporated.

1844 October 4 - The Springfield Light Guards, company E, 10th regiment, 6th brigade, 3d division M.V.M, organized earlier the same year, makes its first public parade.

1844 October 13 - The corner of Main and Sanford streets goes up in flames. Five buildings were destroyed, including eight stores.

1845 - Henry Wadworth Longfellow's poem 'The Arsenal at Springfield' is published.

1845 - Establishment of the Springfield fire district.

1845 - The Wason car works is established. Wason train cars were famous the world over.

1845 January 25 - The Greenfield and Northampton railroad corporation is formed to extend the Northampton and Springfield railroad.

1846 - The main arsenal, it's three floors able to hold 100,000 guns each, is built.

1847 - Rail service opens as far north as Greenfield with the completion of the Greenfield and Northampton Railroad, the road corporations from Springfield to Greenfield were redesignated the Connecticut River railroad corporation on April 14 in the same year.

1848 - The Springfield aqueduct company is established with Charles Stearns as one of its first officers. The company was charged with the water needs of the town until the city took over the task in 1860.

1848 April 29 - The town of Chicopee is established on former Springfield land.

1849 - William Stowe is appointed postmaster.

1849 - Gas lights begin to brighten the homes of Springfield.

1849 - The Springfield Fire and Marine insurance company is incorporated.

1849 May 2 - The incorporation of the Springfield and Longmeadow railroad company.

1850 - The population of Springfield is 11,330.

1851 - Chester W. Chapin is the wealthiest man in Springfield. Once a teamster and stage driver, Chapin went on to become president of the Connecticut River railroad.

1851 May 15 - The Massachusetts Mutual life insurance company is incorporated. At the time, the company's offices were located on the corner of Main and State streets, in No. 8 Foot's block. The highest amount a person could be insured for was $5,000. The company began with $100,000 in guaranteed capital.

1852 - The population of Springfield is 12,498.

1852 - The Hampden savings bank is established and incorporated.

1852 April 12 - Springfield is granted a city charter.

1852 April 21 - A vote on the city charter issue is held. The charter is accepted, 969 for, 454 against.

1852 May 25 - Springfield is incorporated as a city. Joseph Ingraham begins duties as first city clerk. The city's first mayor was Caleb Rice.

1853 - Abijah Chapin is appointed postmaster. Chapin lost his position when William Stowe was reinstated in 1861, after Abraham Lincoln assumed the presidency. Stowe was postmaster from that time until his death in December, 1871.

1853 - An ordinance is passed by city council, effective with the State legislature's amendatory act of 1853, establishing the Springfield fire department.

1854 - The Springfield Five Cents savings bank is established and chartered.

1854 May 1 - The Great Flood of Springfield.

1855 January 1 - The new city hall building is dedicated. The building burned down on January 6, 1905, during a fair at city hall, possibly being held to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, just passed five days before. A kerosene lamp upset by a monkey was blamed for the inferno. The town hall had previously been located in a building at the corner of State and Market streets.

1857 - Citizens of Springfield, upset with government foot-dragging over establishing a city library, create a volunteer library association, initially using a room at the city hall for library space, until the 'new' library was built in 1871.

1857 October - Ceremonies opening Hampden park are held with the participation of many civic groups.

1860 - The population of Springfield is 15,200.

1861 - The destruction of the arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, leaves the arsenal at Springfield the Union's main source for armaments.

1861 April - A war rally is held in Springfield in support of the Union. $30,000 is appropriated by the city for volunteers. Judge Chapman presided over the rally. 167 city residents lost their lives in the war.

1862 - A steam fire engine joins the department.

1864 - The City Library association is incorporated.

1864 - The arsenal is producing 1,000 guns a day, with a workforce of 3,400. The monthly payroll is over $200,000.

1865 - First superintendent of schools, A. E. Hubbard appointed. Hubbard served as superintendent until 1873.

1865 - The Home for Friendless Women and Children is established at 62 Union street.

1866 - Artist and 36-year city resident Chester Harding dies at 73. Harding, born in Conway, Mass., on Sept. 1, 1792, was a self-taught painter, starting off by painting signs. Harding's progression to masterfully-done portraits led to his status as one of the most in-demand artists in Boston, with a waiting list of subjects anxious to sit for him.

1868 March 16 - The Springfield street railroad company is incorporated. Before electrification, the rail cars were pulled by teams of horses.

1870 - The population of Springfield is 26,703.

1871 - The Athol and Enfield railroad ties in to the Springfield line.

1871 - The Massachusetts legislature okays the construction of a new county courthouse in Springfield.

1871 - The City Library is built with citizens' donations on State Street, on a parcel of land donated by George Bliss. By 1905, the library's shelves hold 136,000 volumes, making it one of the largest public libraries in the country.

1872 - The development of the Ludlow reservoir is planned to meet the water needs of the citizens of Springfield.

1872 January - Gen. Horace C. Lee is appointed postmaster.

1873 - Admiral P. Stone appointed superintendent of schools. Stone served during difficult financial times for the city and country, until 1888.

1873 - Men's choral group, The Orpheus Club, is founded in Springfield. The group's first leader was the talented musician, Louis Coenen.

1874 - The county courthouse opens in its new building in Springfield. The building - which caused some grumbles among disgruntled residents who felt the planning had been inept - had a total cost of $304,543.

1875 - Emerson Wight serves as mayor of Springfield, his term ending in 1878.

1875 May 30 - A massive fire engulfs central Springfield. Originating at the H. M. Conkey & Company on Taylor street, the fire claimed fifty buildings, including thirty homes, before being brought under control. Streets affected by the inferno included: Worthington, Main, Bond place, Vernon, Water and Wight avenue. Total losses amounted to $596,300.

1876 - The Union Relief association is established as a charitable organiztion by Rev. Washington Gladden, D.D. and Samuel Bowles, publisher of the Springfield Republican.

1878 - The North-end bridge is built, at a cost of $170,904.

1879 - Telephone service comes to Springfield.

1879 - The South-end bridge is built, at a cost of $116,188.

1879 - The city begins operating a public hospital in a house on what is now the campus of American International college.

1881 - William S. Elwell, Springfield artist, dies at age 71. Elwell is buried in Springfield cemetery, under a boulder of rough granite, with the design of an artist's pallette on its face, engraved with his name and dates.

1883 - The Springfield hospital trustees are incorporated and charged with the task of expanding and improving the hospital. The trustees were mayoral appointees.

1884 - Edwin P. Chapin is appointed postmaster. John L. Rice served as postmaster from Chapin's resignation, date unknown, to 1890.

1885 - The population of Springfield is 37,575.

1885 September 29 - Gurdon Bill's gift to the Grand Army, the soldiers' monument in Court square is dedicated with ceremonial speeches, music and parades.

1886 - The Springfield Home for Aged Women opens.

1886 May 25 - The 250th anniversary of Springfield's settlement is celebrated, commemorating the date of the first recorded town meeting, May 25, 1636. Events and festivities were held throughout the week, beginning with services at all of the churches in the city on Sunday, the 25th.

1886 May 27 - A well-attended ceremony is held at city hall commemorating the quarter-millenial anniversary of the city. Speakers at the event included the current mayor, Edwin D. Metcalf, and the Governor, George D. Robinson, who hailed from Chicopee. Judge William S. Shurtleff read the anniversary ode he had crafted. Music was provided by the choral group the Orpheus club, who also sang the anniversary hymn E. Porter Dyer had written for the occassion. A banquet was held at the Massasoit house later that evening.

1886 May 28 - 2,000 singing children in Court square open the festivities on the last day of the city's quarter-millenial celebration. A parade was held at 1 p.m., with floats and marchers dressed and decorated in themes of Springfield's history. Court square was the setting for concerts later in the day, and in the eveing, a formal ball was held at city hall.

1887 - The electrification of Springfield begins.

1887 - The county opens York street jail on the west bank of the Connecticut river. The building cost totalled $266,953.94.

1888 - Springfield hospital opens at Chestnut and Springfield streets.

1888 March 7 - The Springfield Daily Union offices on the corner of Main and Worthington are swept up in a rapid fire causing many deaths and injuries. Some victims jumped from the upper floors, where fire had trapped them. Others met their end in the blaze itself, unable to get out of the building. The fire prompted the city to buy the fire department's first aerial ladder.

1888 April - Dr. Thomas M. Balliet becomes superintendent of schools. During his tenure, which lasted until May, 1904, more than one million dollars were invested in the educational infrastructure of Springfield.

1890 - The Springfield street railroad company electrifies.

1890 - Col. Henry M. Phillips is appointed postmaster.

1890 June 2 - Springfield acquires part of Longmeadow.

1891 - The first post office building is constructed. The city having been designated a port of entry around the same time, the customs house for the Port of Springfield was also located in the ornate stone building.

1892 - Primus Mason passes. Mason left his $25,000 estate to establish a Home for Aged Men.

1892 May 10 - The City Library building is renamed 'The William Rice Building' in a dedication ceremony honoring librarian William Rice, whose service began in 1861 and spanned 36 years, with Rice retiring five years after the renaming, in 1897.

1892 September 5- The newly-constructed Court Square Theater Building, on Elm Street, facing Court Square, is dedicated. Performances of "If I Were You," a comedy by William Young, and "Diana," burlesque by Sydney Rosenfeld, were given by the Manola-Mason Company. The building was owned by Dwight O. Gilmore and set him back $250,000.

1893 - A fire commission is established as overseer of the fire department.

1894 - John H. Clune is appointed postmaster.

1895 - The population of Springfield is 51,512.

1895 - The Museum of Fine Art building construction is complete.

1897 - The trustees for the Home for Aged Men, envisioned by Primus Mason before his death and financed by him after it, are incorporated.

1898 - The Mechanics Arts high school is organized. In, May 1904, the school's name was changed to Technical high school. The school rented space in Winchester Park at the Springfield Industrial institute before its permanent home on Elliot Street was constructed.

1898 June - Louis C. Hyde is appointed postmaster.

1898 September - Classical high school opens doors for the first time. Cost: $450,000.

1898 - The Science Museum building construction is complete.

1899 - Forest Park school opens. Cost: $90,000.

1899 - Museum of Natural History building construction is complete. Cost: $30,000

1900 - The population of Springfield is 62,059.

1900 - The five-story Court Square Theater building is topped off with a sixth-floor and connected to the newly constructed Court Square Hotel.

1900 - The donation of a home at 132 High street spurs the incorporation of the Hampden Homeopathic hospital. Under the conditional agreement, the hospital received the building from Mr. and Mrs. D. B. Wesson after raising an additional $10,000 from independent sources for the purchase of equipment.

1902 - Commissioned by their government to study school systems worldwide, officials from New South Wales visit Springfield for two days. The delgates favorable impression of the city's education system is reflected in their concluding report.

1902 May 25 - Springfield commences celebrating fifty years of incorporation, with city churches holding special services. The Court square theater was the scene of ceremonies later that evening, with speeches by Mayor Ralph W. Ellis and Congressman Frederick H Gillett among others. Court square was decorated magnificently for the celebration, with electric lights and evergreens strung between white flag-topped pillars bordering the park. The celebration took on another meaning, as well, the citizenry having reached their $100,000 fund-raising goal to extend Court square to the river around the same time.

1902 May 26 - Parades through festive streets are staged celebrating the 50th anniversary of Springfield's incorporation as a city. Fireworks and concerts are held in the evening. Elisha Morgan, whose ancestor, Miles Morgan, was one of Springfield's city fathers, was chairman of the day's celebrations.

1903 - Construction of Chestnut Street grammar school is complete. Cost: $135,961.

1904 - Almost 19,000,000 passengers ride the 94 miles of rails of the Springfield street railway.

1904 - 1,430 foreign-born residents of the city are enrolled in evening classes provided by the school district.

1904 - The post office records gross receipts of $294,724, the highest of any New England city or town.

1904 - The Home for Aged Men opens at 94 Walnut street, 12 years Primus Mason's death, who had left his estate of $25,000 in 1892 to help finance his dream of the home.

1904 March 2 - Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as children's author Dr. Seuss, is born on Howard Street.

1904 June - Wilbur F. Gordy named superintendent of schools.

1905 - The population of Springfield is 73,484.

1905 January 6 - City Hall is destroyed by a quick-moving fire after a kerosene lamp is knocked over by a monkey during a fair.

1906 - A 20 member Municipal Building Commission is appointed by Mayor Francke W. Dickinson and set with the task of choosing a design for a new Municipal building. 82 different designs were submitted for consideration, F. Livingston Pell and Harvey Corbett, ultimately winning the contract to build what is known as Springfield's Municipal Group, consisting of City and Symphony Halls, separated by a 300 foot tall Campanile.

1909 December - Contracts for the construction of Court Street's three-building Municipal Group are awarded.

1911 October 1 - Edward Patrick Boland, Massachusetts Congressman from 1953 to 1989, born in Springfield.

1912 January - The main branch of the Springfield City Library on State Street, still currently in use, opens in a new building replacing the former 1871-built structure, financed with donations from Andrew Carnegie and Springfield citizens.

1913 October - The Municipal Group construction project is complete, with a magnificent triad of buildings erected across the street from and fronting Court Square, including a Symphony Hall, City Hall and Campanile.

1913 December 8-9 - One of the most distinctive civic centers in the nation, and indeed, the world, the Municipal group is dedicated with much fanfare.

1920 April 3 - The contract to build the 1,515 foot long Hampden County Memorial Bridge is awarded to H. P. Converse & Company.

1922 August 3 - Traffic first flows across the Hampden County Memorial Bridge spanning the Connecticut River and linking Springfield and West Springfield. The bridge was built as a replacement for "Damon's Bridge," which had been in service since 1816. Ironically, Springfield's Bridge Street no longer leads to the bridge, the new bridge being built just downriver from the crossing's original location

1926 - Union Station is built.

1926 - The Paramount Theater on Main Street opens. The theater is still in use, renamed The Hippodrome.

1929 - The Granville Brothers, Robert, Thomas, Edward, Mark and Zantford, set up shop at Springfield Airport on Liberty Street and began building their famous GeeBee airplanes.

1934 - The Granville Brothers Aircraft company goes bankrupt.

1936 March 21 - Springfield is flooded.

1951 March 17 - Actor Kurt Russell is born.

1956 April 22 - The final curtain is dropped as the Court Square Theater on Elm Street closes.

1957 March - A large chunk of the south side of the Court Square Theatre Building is razed to make way for downtown parking, the bulk of the demolition destroying the main part of the theater itself.

1990 - The population of Springfield is 156,983.

1991 September 24 - Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, dies in California.

2001 November 4 - Edward P. Boland dies. Boland's political career as a Western Massachusetts Congressman spanned 36 years, from 1953 to 1989.

2006 March 16 - Edward A. Flynn is sworn in as Springfield's first police commissioner.

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Anonymous said...

Great work! Very refershing after viewing some of the other Blogs on line! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks! This is a wonderful timeline of the Pioneer Valley, not just Springfield. I think you should post the link in the Nostalgia Forum.

Also, I loved the cobblestones this week. Funny how we all love cobblestones with their irregularities, but complain about the potholes.

Anonymous said...

Great detail noted in your work.

Tom said...

A valuable achievement.

sojourner said...

You undertook a momentous challenge and produced an invaluable resource for folks interested in local history. Thank you, Mark.

Anonymous said...

What a lot of work. You did a wonderful job! Thank you. Judy L.

Anonymous said...

A fine historical perspective. Just reading the name of the streets brought back so many memories, as I am a California transplant. Would really enjoy seeing more information on the 1940's and 50's?

Keith K said...

You forgot a couple of important dates:
1893 Americas first automobile built in Springfield the Duryea
1896 J. Frank Duryea built the first production automobile producing 13 units.

Mark T. Alamed said...

Keith K.:

Actually the Duryea made its debut on Springfield's Taylor Street on April 19, 1892.

As noted at the top of the page, the Springfield Chronology is unfinished and a work in progress. There are many dates - not forgotten or ignored - but yet to be added. I wasn't going to publish it incomplete, but at the same time, I thought that the information I've gathered so far in this list might be helpful to folks.

Thanks for your suggestions.