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Springfield, Massachusetts

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Springfield in Massachusetts.

 

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Springfield is the largest city on the Connecticut River and the county seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States.

Culture

Amusement parks and fairs

Within two miles of Springfield are New England's largest and most popular amusement park, Six Flags New England, and its largest and most popular state fair, The Big E. Six Flags New England, located across Springfield's South End bridge in (Agawam) currently features 10 roller-coasters, including the #1 roller-coaster in the world since 2004, The Bizarro. Six Flags New England also features an extensive water park, childrens' rides, ferris wheels, and a concert stadium, among numerous other rides. It opens in mid-April and closes in mid-November.

The Eastern States Exposition ("The Big E") is located across Springfield's Memorial Bridge in (West Springfield.) The Big E serves as New England's collective state fair. The Big E is currently the sixth largest agricultural fair in America and brings in thousands of tourists each September-October. The Big E features rides, carnival food, music, and replicas of each of the six New England state houses, each of which is owned by its respective New England state. During the Big E, these state houses serve as consulates for the six New England states, and also serve food for which the states are known.

Architecture

In addition to its nick-name The City of Firsts, Springfield is known as The City of Homes for its attractive architecture, which differentiates it from most medium-sized, Northeastern American cities. Most of Springfield's housing stock consists of Victorian "Painted Ladies" (similar to those found in San Francisco, California;) however, Springfield also features Gilded Age mansions, urban condominiums buildings, brick apartment blocks, and more modest post-WWII suburban architecture (in the Sixteen Acres and Pine Point neighborhoods.) While Springfield's architecture is reputedly attractive, much of its built-environment stems from from the 1800s and early 1900s when the city experienced a period of "intense and concentrated prosperity" - today, its Victorian architecture can be found in various states of rehabilitation and disrepair. As of 2011, Springfield's housing prices are considerably lower than nearby New England cities with less appealing housing stock.

In Metro Center, some of Springfield's former hotels, factories, and other institutions have been converted into luxury apartment buildings and condominiums. For example, Springfield's ornate Classical High School (235 State Street,) with its immense Victorian atrium, is now a luxury condominium building. The Hotel Kimball, (140 Chestnut Street,) which once hosted U.S. Presidents as guests and features one of Springfield's grandest ballrooms, has been converted into The Kimball Towers luxury condominiums. The former McIntosh Shoe Company (158 Chestnut Street,) one of Springfield's finest examples of the Chicago School of Architecture, has been converted into industrial-style condominiums; and the red-brick, former Smith & Wesson factory is now Stockbridge Court Apartments (45 Willow Street.) In the Ridgewood Historic District, the 1950s-futuristic Mulberry House (101 Mulberry Street,) is now a condominium building featuring some of the finest views of Springfield.

Forest Park (and Forest Park Heights), surrounding Frederick Law Olmstead's beautiful 735-acre Forest Park, is a New England Garden District that features over 600 Victorian Painted Ladies. The The McKnight National Historic District, America's first planned residential neighborhood, (1881,) features over 900 Victorian Painted Ladies. The Old Hill, Upper Hill, and Bay neighborhoods also feature this type of architecture.

Maple Heights, which is architecturally (and geographically) distinct from, but often included with Springfield's economically depressed Six Corners neighborhood, was Springfield's first "Gold Coast." Many mansions from the early 1800s and later gilded age stand atop a bluff on Maple Street, overlooking the Connecticut River. The Ridgewood Historic district on Ridgewood and Mulberry Streets also feature historic mansions from the 1800s and early 1900s.

Unfortunately for commercial architecture aficionados, Springfield - like many mid-sized Northeastern cities, e.g. Hartford, Albany, and New Haven - from the 1950s-1970s, destroyed much of its Victorian commercial architecture in Metro Center, leaving behind a patch-work of parking-lots and grand old buildings. Current efforts are underway to improve the cohesion of Springfield's Metro Center architecture, including historic renovations (e.g. to Springfield's 1926 Union Station and to the Epiphany Building,) and new constructions, e.g. the architecturally award-winning Federal Building on State Street.

Festivals

In 2011, the Vintage Sports Car Club of America announced that it will move its famous Pittsburgh Grand Prix to Springfield, Massachusetts. The Springfield Grand Prix will feature a 1.6 mile course through Metro Center streets will be held from July 22 through July 24, and is expected to draw tens of thousands of observers. The Springfield Grand Prix has resulted in the Springfield City Council unanimously voting to change the laws for automobile racing on State Street, which had been in place since 1915.

The Hoop City Jazz Festival is an annual event sponsored by Springfield-headquartered Hampden Bank, which in the past has featured Springfield native and jazz legend Taj Mahal, the Average White Band, and others. 2011's Hoop City Jazz Festival will take place from July 8th-July 10th, and will feature a jazz tribute to the City of New Orleans.

In Springfield's Italian South End, it is long-running tradition to celebrate Italian Feast Days, particularly during the summer. The largest of these festivals is the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society festival, which features a parade, and numerous food stands featuring all sorts of Italian foods, e.g. fried dough, pasta with meatballs or sausages, sausage and peppers, meatball and steak grinders, and sugar cones, cotton candy, candy apples and gelato. The festival takes place in mid-July.

The Mattoon Street Arts Festival is one of the largest annual art festivals in Springfield. In 2011, it will feature a record number of exhibitors when it takes place from September 10-11, 2011, at the corner of Mattoon and Chestnut Streets, near the Apremont Triangle.

On May 14, 2011, Springfield's annual World's Largest Pancake Breakfast will return to Main Street. During this event, Springfielders attempt to break the Guiness Book of World Records number for pancakes served.

On July 4, each year, an event called Star-Spangled Springfield presents an evening of patriotism, pageantry and pyrotechnics. The evening begins in Court Square with a patriotic concert by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and concludes with an elaborate fireworks display from the Memorial Bridge. Numerous hills and bluffs in Springfield afford fine views of the fireworks.

In 2011, the City of Bright Nights Ball Committee will convene for a sixteenth year to present the "City of Bright Nights Ball," a fund raising event for the holiday lighting displays in Springfield. The evening includes a gourmet dinner, entertainment and dancing in an elegant setting. In past years, sponsor contributions and proceeds from the “City of Bright Nights Ball" have afforded the charity organization "Spirit of Springfield" to illuminate Court Square and Springfield's Municipal Group for the holidays. Other areas that have been decorated with proceeds from the “City of Bright Nights Ball" include the Main Street trestle and the Memorial Bridge, in cooperation with the Town of West Springfield.

During the holiday season, over 600,000 lights illuminate a 2.5 mile drive-through tour of Frederick Law Olmstead's Forest Park. The event is a national attraction, known as Bright Nights. From the new “Poinsettia Fantasy” entry to the giant Poinsettia Candles marking the exit, passengers in cars, vans, buses and campers drive by and through lighting displays including "Seuss Land," a display approved by the estate of Dr. Seuss, "Spirit of the Season," "Noah's Ark," "Victorian Village," "Barney Mansion," "Winter Woods," "North Pole Village," "Toy Land," and "Season's Greetings."

Since 1991, the Parade of Big Balloons has helped to usher in the holiday season in Springfield - a 75-foot inflatable "Cat in the Hat" and a dozen or more big balloons, bands, and colorful marching contingents parade through Springfield's Metro Center at 11AM on the day after Thanksgiving. The Parade of Big Balloons starts in the city's North End and make its way down Main Street to the South End, entertaining crowds estimated at 75,000. Generally, this parade is broadcast by local TV and radio affiliates.

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