Springfield is the largest city on the Connecticut River, in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, USA. It sits only 24 miles north of Hartford, Connecticut, and only five miles north of the Connecticut state line. Springfield and Hartford are the principle cities in the Knowledge Corridor - the 2nd largest urban region in New England with 1.9 million people, 29 universities and colleges, and 120,000 university students.
2011-2015 promises to be an exciting time to visit Springfield! With major construction projects serving as catalysts, including a new intercity high-speed rail line from New Haven; a new intercity commuter line from Vermont; the renovation of the city's grand 1926 Union Station; renovations of gilded age theaters, Victorian hotels, and public parks; and new festivals like the Springfield Vintage Grand Prix and the Hoop City Jazz Festival, the City of Springfield is in the midst of a dramatic comeback.
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, Upstate New York, and Montreal, Canada, the City of Springfield (pop. 155,000) has been the cultural, economic, and technological center of the Connecticut River Valley since its founding in 1636. Despite having been burned to the ground during King Phillip's War in 1675, and having suffered de-industrialization following the Springfield Armory's controversial close in 1968, the dawn of the new millennium's 2nd decade finds Springfield in the midst of a great resurgence.
Nicknamed The City of Homes because of its ubiquitous Victorian architecture and The City of Firsts because of the numerous "firsts" produced there during its 375 years - including America's first Armory, America's first American-English dictionary, and America's first gasoline-powered car - Springfield is best known worldwide as the birthplace of the sport of basketball. The Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Springfield beside the Connecticut River, is a major tourist draw throughout the year.
Springfield is a highly walkable tourist destination - most of its major sites are in the Metro Center neighborhood; however, much of the city's 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 reflected in its architecture. The Springfield Armory, the site of which George Washington selected personally, made the city a center of invention and industrial innovation from 1777 onward -- for example, America's first motorcycle, America's first motorized fire engine, and Charles Goodyear's vulcanized rubber stamp were all invented 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 sight-seer's gain - the Springfield Armory National Park features the largest collection of guns in the world. <ref> http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/springfield-armory-national-historic-site.htm</ref>
The Armory's closing in tandem with the growth of the interstate highway system, and "White Flight" from American cities to the suburbs, left Springfield reeling for approximately 35 years (1968-2003) as it de-industrialized. 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.
Since approximately 2007, Springfield has reaped the rewards of the ULI's Plan for Springfield. Its South End, North End, and Metro Center (including the Main Street and State Street corridors) have all seen dramatic aesthetic improvements, which have increased liveliness in the neighborhoods. Concurrently, Springfield, which during the early 2000s ranked as high as 18th in the annual United States' "City Crime Rankings," dropped to 51st in those rankings in 2009. These improvements have improved Springfield's quality of life, and will improve any visitor's stay.
Springfield's South End is the center of its Italian community. The North End is the center of its prominent Puerto Rican community. The McKnight District - the United States' first planned residential neighborhood - is the center of the African American community. Springfield's entertainment district is centered around lower Worthington Street. Worthington features numerous bars and clubs, trendy restaurants, and a vibrant LGBT bar and club scene. There is no "gay" neighborhood per se, (although Metro Center and McKnight are currently a trendy places to rent and buy.) Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people are well-integrated in Springfield - one of the Top 15 most accepting "secondary" gay cities in the United States, according to 2011's The Advocate.
Springfield is the most centrally located city in the Northeast between major tourist destinations like New York City, Boston, Connecticut, 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 south of Springfield (equidistant to Springfield's twin city, Hartford, Connecticut.) Westover Metropolitan Airport is located 5 miles north of Springfield in the City of Chicopee, Massachusetts.
The City of Springfield itself is a major railroad and bus nexus, with trains and buses arriving from all directions. In 2011-2012, the city's grand 1926 Union Station will be renovated and become and "intermodal transportation hub," (this means that the bus station and local transportation service, the PVTA, will move into Union Station.) Within the next few years, Springfield is scheduled to see an exponential increase in train and visitor traffic. The city will become the main terminus for both an intercity commuter line heading north to Brattleboro, Vermont, and a high-speed rail line heading south through Hartford, Connecticut, to New Haven, Connecticut. By the time that these various construction projects are complete, Springfield should be ready to show-off its revitalized Metro Center.
The renovated Union Station will become the headquarters for Peter Pan Bus Lines, the PVTA, and the regional hub for Greyhound Bus. In the meantime, Springfield's Bus Station serves as the headquarters for Peter Pan Bus Lines, one of the major bus servers on the East Coast.
Bus & Train
From the South
Springfield is one of two northern terminals for Amtrak's Regional Service, connecting Springfield through Connecticut down to Virginia. The Vermonter also travels through Springfield, beginning in Washington, D.C. and terminating in northern Vermont.
From the North
Springfield is one of two current Massachusetts stops for Amtrak's Vermonter - the other is in the college town of Amherst, only 18 miles north of Springfield. In 2013, the Vermonter is scheduled to be re-routed to the old, more direct Montrealer route -- down the Connecticut River, through the bohemian mecca of Northampton, to Springfield. Once the renovations are complete, Springfield is scheduled to become the main terminus for the Western Massachusetts' intercity commuter rail, which will conveniently connect the the cities of Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, Deerfield, Greenfield, and Brattleboro, Vermont. Western Massachusetts' intercity rail service will be a boon to travelers looking to experience the Pioneer Valley's multiple facets - from urban Springfield to bohemian Northampton to the scenic beauty of historic Deerfield and Vermont.
Current fares are reasonably priced and it is by far the most relaxing way to enter Springfield from the north.
From the East
Unfortunately, in 2004, Amtrak canceled the Bay State route (AKA Massachusetts' Overland Route,) limiting rail service from Boston and points east to Springfield. Currently, once per day, the Lake Shore Limited stops in Springfield en route to Chicago. Plans are afoot to revitalize the Overland Route for both passenger and freight service; however, unlike Springfield's two other rail projects, this one has not yet been green-lighted.
In the meantime, Amtrak generally charges $15 for the hour and forty-five minute one way trip. Peter Pan Bus charges around $20-$25 for a less enjoyable, hot (in winter the heat is turned up too high and in summer, much needed air-conditioning is nonexsistant on Peter Pan's older busses), crowded trip that can often run into traffic on the Mass Pike (Interstate 90). That said, service from Springfield to Boston via Peter Pan and Greyhound Bus is frequent.
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.
Springfield 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, CT;) and Interstate 291 (a connector from I-90 through Chicopee to Springfield.)
, 91, and 291.
Luckily for sight-seers, Springfield is an eminently walkable city. Most of its historic sites, points of interest, and entertainments are clustered in the Metro Center neighborhood (aka downtown, where the skyscrapers are.) Thanks to Springfield's recent resurgence, tourist sites are well marked, as are many architecturally significant buildings. The Basketball Hall of Fame and Forest Park 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 river.)
If you'd like to explore Springfield beyond Metro Center, (perhaps experience the city's serene Forest Park,) or further explore the artsy Pioneer Valley (maybe check out bohemian Northampton or one of America's best-known university towns, Amherst,) 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 a mere $1.35 on the PVTA, you can ride the 15 miles from Springfield to the counter-culture mecca Northampton, or the 18 miles to student-centered Amherst, and vice versa. The PVTA is a great deal and an easy way to experience this small and diverse region. If you see a PVTA bus headed your way and you are not at a bus stop, just wave your hands and most likely the driver will pull over to pick you up, (especially in Springfield.)
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.
NOTE: Several years ago, walking through Springfield was considerably more hazardous than today. In the 1990s and early 2000s, crime was high in Springfield - the city ranked as high as 18th in the annual per city crime rankings; however, during the past few years, the city's fortunes have improved and crime has dropped off significantly. Currently, Springfield ranks 51st in those same rankings, and crime has fallen 50%.
Although Springfield is safe compared with neighboring cities like Hartford and New Haven, as in most urban environments, it's best to exercise caution when walking alone at night. The Entertainment District along Worthington Street is safe most times of day and night, as are many of Springfield's neighborhoods, e.g. Sixteen Acres and Forest Park Heights; however, certain parts of town can be sketchy after dark (e.g. Liberty Heights and Six Corners.) Luckily, Springfield's sketchier areas are generally well off the beaten path for tourists.
The Basketball Hall of Fame, West Columbus Av., Phone: +1 877-446-6752, . M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Along the Connecticut River, in a stunning (and quirky) steel structure, it's a shrine to the world's 2nd most popular sport in its birthplace. Adults $17, Seniors $14, Ages 5-5 $12.
The Springfield Armory National Park 1 Armory Square.  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 the National Park is the reasonably scenic campus of Springfield Technical Community College (STCC,) which occupies several former Armory buildings. Admission to the National Park is FREE.
The Quadrangle, 220 State St., is a grouping of five excellent museums and the city's palatial public library -- the former include the United States' first planetarium (built in 1937.) The fine arts museum features a fine and varied collection, particularly renowned for Impressionist works. The classical arts museum features a collection of Japanese antiques. The science museum boasts a gigantic life-sized model of a Tyrannosaurus rex.
Dr. Seuss National Memorial Garden, 45 Edwards St. Springfield is the hometown of Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. This park within the Quadrangle features life size sculptures of Dr. Seuss and some of the characters from his imagination.Free.
The Indian Motorcycle Museum, 33 Hendee Street. Mar-Nov 10AM-4PM, Dec-Feb 1PM-4PM. Where America's first motorcycle manufacturer produced vehicles for many years, featuring a large collection of the company's motorcycles.
The Springfield Vintage Grand Prix, taking place from July 22-24, 2011. The Vintage Sports Car Club of America (www.vscca.org) will host its annual grand prix in Springfield for the first time this year. It moved from Pittsburgh and promises to bring a lot of excitement along with civic pride (Springfield produced the first American gasoline-powered automobile.) Root for your favorite sportscar!!
Springfield Symphony Orchestra, 1350 Main Street at Court Square, ☎ 413-733-2291, . Housed 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.$12-$60.
City Stage at Symphony Hall, 1350 Main Street on Court Square, ☎ (413) 788-7033, . Springfield's most well-known theatre organization features plays, musicals, traveling Broadway shows, comedians, and lecturers. Programming varies widely. $5-$65.
MassMutual Center (formerly The Springfield Civic Center)), 1277 Main Street, . The MassMutual Center is a newly renovated 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 Falcons. The arena's capacity is over 7,000. The Conference Center features various ballrooms, halls, lecture rooms, exhibit and pre-function rooms with 30' ceilings.price varies according to event.
Six Flags New England, 1623 Main St., Phone: +1 877-474-9352,  The largest theme park in New England, located in across Springfield's South End bridge in Agawam, Massachusetts. It opens in April as it starts to get warm and closes in November as it starts to get cold.
The Eastern States Exposition - "The Big E", 1305 Memorial Av., West Springfield, Phone: +1 413-737-2446, . The New England States' collective State Fair. It is the largest fair in New England, and the 6th largest agricultural fair in the United States. Located across Springfield's Memorial Bridge in West Springfield, it runs from September 15 to October 1, give or take.
The Entertainment District - Hip nightclubs, a cluster of LGBT-oriented bars and clubs, and see-and-be-seen restaurants line lower Worthington Street near the Connecticut River. Upper Worthington, west of Chestnut Street, remains an "entertainment district;" however, much of the 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 Valley's scenic beauty. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find an entrance to this park due to the presence of I-91. Bring a partner at night.
Forest Park (featuring the Forest Park Zoo and Bright Nights), Sumner Avenue, . One of the largest urban parks in the United States at 735 acres, 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 Nights in 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. $8
The Zoo at Forest Park The 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.
Springfield Technical Community College Located behind the Springfield Armory National Park, surrounded by the Armory's distinctive wrought-iron fence, STCC is Springfield's largest community college.
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 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 Pizzeria, 1060 Main Street. A Springfield classic! Truly excellent pizza and pasta. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright claims that Red Rose has "the best meatballs in the world." She might be right.
Adolfo's, 254 Worthington Street, Excellent new (as of 2011) 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. There is not a bad dish on the menu. Classy and casual at once.
The Munich Haus, 13 Center Street (downtown Chicopee), Phone: +1 413 594-8788, . Excellent German food and a good selection of German beer.
Family Kitchen, 19 St. James Av. (off State Street), Phone: +1 413 732-9417. Daily 6AM-7PM. Come for a full breakfast (includes grits). Ask for the chicken & waffles.
The Student Prince, 8 Fort Street (off Main Street). German food, locally famous. Make sure you get a good look at the truly massive collection of steins on the walls.
Max's Tavern,  1000 West Columbus Boulevard, beside the Basketball Hall of Fame. Serving exceptional American fare.
The White Hut, 280 Memorial Avenue in West Springfield,  Thanks to the Food Network, the United States now knows what Springfielders have for years -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 .
350 Grille, 350 Worthington Street, located 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.
Pazzo's, 1000 West Columbus Boulevard, inside 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 Saigon, 398 Dickinson St, ☎ (413) 781-4488. Excellent 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.
Frigo's, 90 Williams Street, . In Springfield's South End, (it's "Little Italy,") diners have an excellent selection of Italian food from which to choose - and Frigo's stands out above most of them. Since 1950, Frigo's food has made from the freshest ingredients. It's lasagne is amazing. Frigo's chef offers popular Italian cooking classes.
Milano's, 988 Main Street, . Be 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's, 899 Main Street. This 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.
La Fiorentina Pastry Shop, 883 Main Street, . If 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.Some consider this one of the best Pastry Shops on the East Coast.
Sitar Restaurant, 1688 Main Street. Springfield'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. Absolutely delicious!
The Mardi Gras, New England's most well-known strip club (and most high-end strip club, if one can say such a thing,) the Mardi Gras on Worthington Street has been a Springfield destination for decades, popular with every sort of demographic.
Sheraton Springfield, One Monarch Place, ☎ 1-413-781-1010, . Springfield’s largest hotel, Sheraton Springfield includes 325 guest rooms featuring the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper™ bedding, with Internet access, a spacious work area and in-room coffee.
Hilton Garden Inn, 600 East Columbus Ave.. Next to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
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