Springfield, Massachusetts, the seat of Hampden County. It lies on the east bank of the Connecticut River, about 80 miles (130 km) west-southwest of Boston. The cities of Chicopee and Holyoke adjoin Springfield on the north.
Springfield is the hub of one of New England's major commercial and industrial areas and has widely diversified manufacturing. It is especially noted for gunmaking, which has been carried on here since the 1790's. Other industries manufacture chemical products (mainly plastics), fabricated metal goods, machinery, and textiles and apparel. Insurance and printing and publishing are also important. Commercially, Springfield serves western Massachusetts and parts of Vermont and Connecticut.
Downtown Springfield centers on Court Square, an open area surrounded by municipal buildings, a 300-foot (91-m) bell tower, and Old First Church, built in 1819. Other structures include the modern Baystate West commercial complex and the Civic Center, a large exhibition hall. There are two art museums, a historical museum, and a science center with a planetarium. Springfield Armory National Historic Site includes a museum housing more than 10,000 swords and firearms made since 1795. American International, Springfield, and Western New England colleges are here. At Springfield College is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, named for Dr. James Naismith; he invented the game here in 1891.
Springfield was founded by Puritan settlers in 1636. By the mid-1700's it had many gristmills and sawmills. In 1786–87 it was the scene of several incidents of the farmers' uprising known as Shays' Rebellion. A federal armory established here in 1794 became known for the design and manufacture of firearms, producing famous rifles such as the “Springfield” and the M-1. Between the Civil War and the Great Depression the city grew rapidly and manufacturing was diversified, but growth tapered off after 1930. In 1967 the armory was closed. However, gunmaking continued at other plants in the city.