Holyoke, Massachusetts

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Holyoke, Massachusetts
City of Holyoke
North High Street Historic District
Flag of Holyoke, Massachusetts
Official seal of Holyoke, Massachusetts
Official logo of Holyoke, Massachusetts
Nickname(s): The Paper City[1][2]
Birthplace of Volleyball[3][4]
The Venice of America[5]
Motto(s): Industria et Copia (Latin)
"Industry and Abundance"
Location in Hampden County in Massachusetts
Location in Hampden County in Massachusetts
Holyoke, Massachusetts is located in the US
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 42°12′15″N 72°37′00″W / 42.20417°N 72.61667°W / 42.20417; -72.61667Coordinates: 42°12′15″N 72°37′00″W / 42.20417°N 72.61667°W / 42.20417; -72.61667
Country  United States
State  Massachusetts
County HampdenCountyMA-seal.svg Hampden
Settled 1655
Incorporated (parish)[a] July 7, 1786[7]
Incorporated (town) March 14, 1850[8]
Incorporated (city) April 7, 1873[9]
Founded by George C. Ewing
Boston Associates
Named for Elizur Holyoke
 • Type Mayor-council city
 • Mayor Alex B. Morse
 • Total 22.8 sq mi (59.1 km2)
 • Land 21.3 sq mi (55.1 km2)
 • Water 1.5 sq mi (4.0 km2)
Elevation 200 ft (60 m)
Highest elevation (Mount Tom) 1,202 ft (366 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 39,880
 • Estimate (2016)[10] 40,280
 • Density 1,874/sq mi (723.6/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01040,
01041 (P.O.)
Area code(s) 413
FIPS code 25-30840
GNIS feature ID 0617679
Website www.holyoke.org

Holyoke is a city in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States, that lies between the western bank of the Connecticut River and the Mount Tom Range. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 39,880,[11] as of 2016, the estimated population was 40,280.[10] Sitting 8 miles (13 km) north of Springfield, Holyoke is part of the Springfield Metropolitan Area, one of the two distinct metropolitan areas in Massachusetts.

During the 19th century the city produced an estimated 80% of the writing paper used in the United States and was home to the largest paper and alpaca wool mills in the world,[12] although a considerably smaller number of businesses in Holyoke still work in the paper industry today,[13][14] it is still commonly referred to as "The Paper City".[1][2] Holyoke is also home to the Volleyball Hall of Fame and known as the "Birthplace of Volleyball", as the internationally played Olympic sport was invented and first played at the local YMCA chapter by William G. Morgan in 1895.[3][4]

While working for the Holyoke Water Power Company in the 1880s, hydraulic engineer Clemens Herschel invented the Venturi meter to determine the water use of individual mills in the Holyoke Canal System. This device, the first accurate means of measuring large-scale flows, is still widely used in a number of engineering applications today, including waterworks and carburators, as well as aviation instrumentation.[15][16] Powered by these municipally-owned canals today, between 85% and 90% of Holyoke's energy was carbon neutral as of 2016, with administrative goals in place to reach 100% in the immediate future.[17][18]


Mount Tom, circa 1865, by Thomas Charles Farrer, oil on canvas, as seen at the National Gallery of Art

English colonists first arrived in the Connecticut River Valley in 1633—a post was established at Windsor, Connecticut, by traders from the Plymouth Plantation; in 1636, Massachusetts Bay Colony assistant treasurer and Puritan iconoclast William Pynchon led a group of settlers from Roxbury, Massachusetts, to establish Springfield on land that scouts had vetted the previous year. They considered it the most advantageous land in the Connecticut River Valley for farming and trading, this settlement, on fertile farmland just north of the Connecticut River's first major falls (at Enfield Falls), the place where seagoing vessels necessarily had to transfer their cargo into smaller shallops to continue northward on the Connecticut River, quickly became a successful settlement—largely due to its advantageous position on the Bay Path to Boston, the Massachusetts Path to Albany, and beside the Connecticut River. Originally, Springfield spanned both sides of the Connecticut River; the region was eventually partitioned. The land on the western bank of the Connecticut River became West Springfield, Massachusetts; the area, previously allotted to landowners on the east side of the river in Springfield, had been settled by colonists by 1655.[7]:148 Holyoke as a geographic entity was initially incorporated as a parish; the 3rd Parish of West Springfield, otherwise known as "Ireland" or "Ireland Parish" was first incorporated on July 7, 1786.[7]:70 Though the name Hampden was considered, the area was subsequently named for earlier Springfield settler William Pynchon's son-in-law, Elizur Holyoke, who had first explored the area in the 1650s.[19] Following land acquisitions and development by the Hadley Falls Company, the town of Holyoke was officially incorporated on March 14, 1850,[8] the first official town meeting took place a week later, on March 22, 1850.[7]:76–77

The first post office in the area was called Ireland, it was established June 3, 1822, with Martin Chapin as first postmaster. It was discontinued in 1883. Another post office called Ireland Depot was established February 26, 1847, with John M. Chapin as first postmaster and had its name changed to Holyoke (with George Whittle as first postmaster) March 14, 1850.[20]

High Street around 1920

A part of Northampton known as Smith's Ferry was separated from the rest of the town by the creation of Easthampton in 1809. The shortest path to downtown Northampton was on a road near the Connecticut River oxbow, which was subject to frequent flooding, the neighborhood became the northern part of Holyoke in 1909.[21]

Holyoke had few inhabitants until the construction of the dam and the Holyoke Canal System in 1849 and the subsequent construction of water-powered mills, particularly paper mills, at one point over 25 paper mills were in operation in the city. The Holyoke Machine Company, manufacturer of the Hercules water turbine, was among many industrial developments of the era.[22][23][24]

Holyoke's population rose from just under 5,000 in 1860 to over 60,000 in 1920. Due to this staggering growth the municipality was officially incorporated as a city on April 7, 1873, only 23 years after its initial incorporation as the "Town of Holyoke";[9] in 1888, Holyoke's paper industry spurred the foundation of the American Pad & Paper Company, which as of 2007 is one of the largest suppliers of office products in the world. The availability of water power enabled Holyoke to support its own electric utility company and maintain it independently of America's major regional electric companies, the city was thus a rare unaffected area in the Northeast blackout of 1965, for example.[25][26]

Planned industrial community[edit]

The town seal used from 1850 to 1874; it contains a beehive, in heraldry symbolizing industriousness and cooperation.
Early plan of Holyoke, its canal system and roads; drafted by the Hadley Falls Company in 1853.

As one of the first planned industrial communities in the United States, downtown Holyoke features rectilinear street grids—a novelty in New England, this street hierarchy is seen as a potential economic development tool as it lends well to high-rise buildings, and the surrounding canals could be landscaped into a source of recreation and relaxation. Whereas New York's Commissioner's Plan of 1811 lays out a system of numbered streets and avenues, the names of routes in Holyoke's grid system alternate between tree species for North to South streets (Sycamore, Locust, Linden, Oak, Beech, Pine, Walnut, Elm, Chestnut, Maple), and the names of the Hadley Falls Company founders (Lyman, Dwight, Appleton, Cabot, Sargeant, Jackson), as well as several Massachusetts counties (Hampden, Suffolk, Essex, Hampshire, Franklin) for thoroughfares running east to west.[27][28][29] The city's advantageous location on the Connecticut River—the largest river in New England—beside Hadley Falls, the river's steepest drop (60 feet), attracted the Boston Associates, who had successfully developed Lowell, Massachusetts' textile industry.[30] From the late 19th century until the mid-20th century, Holyoke was the world's biggest paper manufacturer,[30] the elaborate Holyoke Canal System, built to power paper and textile mills, distinguishes it from other Connecticut River cities.

Immigration and migration[edit]

The inside of a High Street laundry shop owned and operated by Mr. Lee Wong Hing, a Chinese American merchant, c. 1904

Historically, a city of working-class immigrants (and the business owners who employed them), the first wave of mill workers was predominantly Irish. Irish immigrants had begun to settle in the region before the construction of the dam and the industrialization that followed, which is why the area's early name was "Ireland Parish." The Irish roots of Holyoke is still seen in its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade (see below).

In the 1850s, the mill owners began to recruit French-Canadians, who were viewed as more docile and less likely to create labor unions due to their agrarian backgrounds and anti-union rhetoric promoted by Québecois clergy at that time.[31] By the 1890 census, Holyoke had the third most foreign-born residents, per capita, of any city in the United States, with 47% of residents born in another country; this was exceeded only by Fall River, Massachusetts and Duluth, Minnesota.[32] Later waves of immigration led to significant growth and cultural influence of communities of Germans, Italians, Jews, Poles, and Scots into the first half of the 20th century.

Beginning at the end of World War II, a large influx of Puerto Ricans and other Latino groups began to immigrate to the Northeast United States, driven largely by the Farm Labor Program initiated by the US Department of Labor.[33] Not unlike the Bracero program, over the next several decades the agency actively recruited Puerto Rican laborers to work on agricultural land in the United States; in the case of Holyoke, many worked on the valley's tobacco farms, arriving in search for the economic opportunities of previous generations. At that time the city's mills had began to shutter faced with the changing economic landscapes brought about by early globalism and deindustrialization.[34] Today Latinos form the largest minority group in the city, with the largest percentage Puerto Rican population of any city in the US outside Puerto Rico proper, at 44.7%.[35] The entire Latino population of Holyoke, as of the 2010 census, was 19,313, or 48.4% of the city's population of 39,880.


Holyoke is located at 42°12′11″N 72°37′26″W / 42.20306°N 72.62389°W / 42.20306; -72.62389 (42.203191, -72.623969).[36] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.8 square miles (59 km2), of which 21.3 square miles (55 km2) is land and 1.5 square miles (3.9 km2) (6.70%) is water. The city is bordered by Southampton and Westfield to the west, Easthampton to the north, Hadley, South Hadley and Chicopee as river borders to the east, and West Springfield to the south.

Holyoke is the location of East Mountain, the Mount Tom Range, and Mount Tom, at 1,202 feet (366 m) the highest traprock peak on the Metacomet Ridge, a linear mountain range that extends from Long Island Sound to the Vermont border. Mount Tom is characterized by its high cliffs, sweeping vistas, and microclimate ecosystems, the 110-mile (180 km) Metacomet-Monadnock Trail traverses the Mount Tom Range and East Mountain. Fossilized dinosaur tracks and specimens can be found at the foot of these mountains due to their unique geology. A species of dinosaur, Podokesaurus holyokensis, whose fossils were first discovered across the river in South Hadley, was given its name for the area,[37] and the city has in recent years passed measures to try to protect fossils in the its parks from theft or vandalism.[38]


The city of Holyoke is divided into 15 distinct neighborhoods; in alphabetical order, they are:[39]


The Casper Ranger House, a rare example of a building designed by its namesake contractor, whose construction work encompassed many of Holyoke's neighborhoods as well as prominent buildings on Mount Holyoke College's campus.[43]
Gauthier Block, one of several Italianate brick tenements designed by architect Oscar Beauchemin.[44]
The Albion Paper Mill, designed by architect David H. Tower, c. 1869, an example of Second Empire industrial architecture in the city

Holyoke's industrial development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to a massive demand for new housing and accommodating structures as the population grew by more than 1000% from the years from 1850 to 1890.[45] Initially this demand was filled by company housing, including such examples as the Hadley Falls Company Housing District, whose structures were built in 1847-1848. Gradually in time the Holyoke Water Power Company began building housing on its land holdings to sell to working families,[46] and by the end of the 19th century more private housing developments had begun to appear. Holyoke's architecture can be characterized by a mixture of Italianate, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne and Second Empire, with some Tudor revival examples throughout its neighborhoods.[47] Philadelphia rowhouses are also a common feature among residential streets in downtown area.[48]

Throughout its history Holyoke has been home to a number of local architects who shaped its unique urban landscape, some of the most prominent included George P. B. Alderman, who designed industrial buildings as well as the Holyoke Post Office, apartment blocks, and many of the city's iconic Victorian estates. Alderman had started his independent practice after being an apprentice to James A. Clough of Clough & Reid, who is best known as the architect of the former iconic Mount Tom Summit Houses as well as the Holyoke Public Library. Architect Oscar Beauchemin's work shaped both the Main Street landscape of Springdale and many large multi-colored brick tenements built in mixed high and low density housing can be attributed to him, often with Renaissance Revival architectural motifs.

Holyoke's own millwright engineers and architects David and Ashley Tower, doing business under the name D. H. & A. B. Tower, would go on to design more than 100 mills in the latter half of the 19th century, and in many respects made Holyoke synonymous with its present-day handle "The Paper City". Holyoke's paper mills from this period were largely the work of the two brothers, who designed mills on five continents and among the first of Kimberly-Clark and Crane Currency;[49][50] in sum they would design 16 factories and mills in Holyoke and, including minor design roles, would perform engineering work in some capacity on 25 of the city's in total.[51]


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1850 3,245 —    
1860 4,997 +54.0%
1870 10,733 +114.8%
1880 21,915 +104.2%
1890 35,637 +62.6%
1900 45,712 +28.3%
1910 57,730 +26.3%
1920 60,203 +4.3%
1930 56,537 −6.1%
1940 53,750 −4.9%
1950 54,661 +1.7%
1960 52,689 −3.6%
1970 50,112 −4.9%
1980 44,678 −10.8%
1990 43,704 −2.2%
2000 39,838 −8.8%
2010 39,880 +0.1%
2016 40,280 +1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[45]

As of the census of 2010, there were 39,880 people, 15,361 households, and 9,329 families residing in Holyoke. There were 16,384 housing units in the city, the racial makeup was 66.0% White (non-Hispanic White 46.8%), 4.7% African American (Non-Hispanic 2.4%), 0.8% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 23.5% some other race, and 3.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 48.4% of the population.[52]

There were 15,361 households, out of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.5% were headed by married couples living together, 24.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.3% were non-families. Of all households, 32.0% were made up of individuals, and 12.3% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51, and the average family size was 3.16.[52]

In the city, 26.4% of the population were under the age of 18, 10.2% were from 18 to 24, 25.5% were from 25 to 44, 23.8% were from 45 to 64, and 14.2% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.4 males.[52]

For the period 2011-15, the estimated median annual income for a household in the city was $36,608, and the median income for a family was $41,194. Male full-time workers had a median income of $43,902 versus $40,988 for females, the per capita income for the city was $22,343. About 25.9% of families and 28.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 45.9% of those under age 18 and 17.9% of those age 65 or over.[53]

The city reached its peak population just before the First World War in 1913, with a total of 62,300 people according to a report by the school superintendent.[54] Following a period of de-industrialization the population reached a low of an estimated 39,790 residents in 2001, and has seen some growth during the most recent 2016 estimate of 40,280 people.[45][55]

Politically, the city of Holyoke has recently supported candidates from the Democratic Party by a wide margin; in the 2012 elections, voters supported President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a margin of 76%-22%,[56] and Elizabeth Warren over incumbent Senator Scott Brown 70%-30%.[57] Holyoke elected an openly gay mayor, Alex Morse, in the 2011 municipal election.[58]

According to the 2003 FBI Report of Offenses Known to Law Enforcement Holyoke's crime rate in most categories was above the national average, in some categories significantly. Most of these crimes are placed in the category of property theft, with a property crime count of 2,822.[59]


Mater Dolorosa Parish

As a city of built by several immigrant groups throughout its history, Holyoke is home to houses of worship for many different denominations of Christianity and Judaism. One of the city's oldest monikers was Baptist Village as the first congregation established there was the First Baptist Church of Holyoke, which first erected a meetinghouse in 1792, traces its origins to five baptisms on the shores of the Connecticut in 1725, and continues as a congregation today.[60]

As of 2010 an estimated 60% of Holyoke is religious, with the largest demographic being Christians, more specifically Roman Catholics, who comprise 49% of the city's population;[61] in 2011, two Catholic parishes, Holy Cross and Mater Dolorosa were merged into Our Lady of the Cross Parish.[62] A number of other Catholic parishes, including Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Jerome's, and Immaculate Conception Parish also reside in the city.[63][64]

In addition to its parishes, Holyoke is home to a number of convents of sisters including the Sisters of Providence of Holyoke in Ingleside, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield who maintain some group homes there, and the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in Highland Park.

Protestant congregations have played a significant role in Holyoke's civic life since its founding, including such groups as the First Congregational Church of Holyoke, founded in 1850,[65] the First Lutheran Church of Holyoke, founded in 1867,[66] and the United Methodist Church of Holyoke, South Hadley, and Granby, which meets in South Hadley, which was founded in 1810.[67]

A Greek Orthodox church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, has also existed in the city since its founding in 1917.[68]

Holyoke is also home to a significant Jewish population, as one of 35 municipalities in Massachusetts with more than 100 Jewish residents, Holyoke is home to an estimated 1,300 residents observing the faith and two synagogues, Congregation Sons of Zion, a Reform congregation, and Congregation Rodphey Sholom, practicing Orthodoxy. Both congregations originated in the 19th century, with Rodphey Sholom being founded in 1903 but tracing its heritage to the Paper City Lodge of the Order Brith Abraham, founded in 1899, and Sons of Zion being founded in 1901; today both congregations often hold joint services during certain holidays.[69][70][71]


Smithsonian Holyoke SkinnersSatins Sample.jpg
Ream of Holyoke EaglePaper.png
From top to bottom: A sample of "Skinner's Satins" silk, produced by William Skinner and Sons, c. 1950. A ream of Holyoke "Eagle A" paper made by the American Writing Paper Company, and subsequently the Brown Company; c. 1970.

Known by its moniker, the "Paper City", Holyoke's economic base was developed almost entirely around the paper industry for the better part of the late 19th and early 20th century; at one time the city was reportedly the largest producer of stationery, writing, and archival goods in the world.[72][73] While writing paper production has largely left the city, Holyoke is still home to a number of specialty paper manufacturers, including companies like Eureka Lab Book, Hampden Paper, Hazen Paper, United Paper Box, and University Products. Several international companies also maintain manufacturing facilities in the area, including a power transmission factory for U.S. Tsubaki in Springdale, and a Sonoco cardboard recycling plant in South Holyoke.

Holyoke is also home to a diverse array of manufacturing concerns outside of the paper and textile industries, including several producing industrial machinery and components, until 2017, its oldest manufacturer was the Holyoke Machine Company which, incorporated in 1863, served large mills and factories with specialty roll parts and service; the firm served several purposes and at one time the company produced the "Holyoke Hercules" model of water turbine which served its industries, and previously cast the bronze doors to the U.S. Capitol Building.[74] Today the city is still home to a number of firms specializing in such equipment as industrial vacuums, solid waste containers, plastics and rubber manufacturing, bookbinding agents and archival supplies.[75]

In recent years there have been successful efforts to attract high-tech jobs to Holyoke and diversify its economic base, for example, a coalition of universities and tech companies have built the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, an energy-efficient, high-performance computing center, in Holyoke which opened in 2012. These companies and institutions include Cisco Systems, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT,) the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Northeastern University, EMC Corporation, and Accenture PLC. The data center has been built in Holyoke in part due to hydropower accessibility.[76] ISO New England, an electricity regional transmission organization, is based out of Holyoke, utilizing the city's central location for easy access to metropolitan areas in New England and New York.[77]

The retail sector has been a major employer since the construction of the Holyoke Mall, one of the largest shopping malls in New England, in 1979. Retail has provided the city with a large and steady tax base, contributing over $7 million in taxes annually.[78]

The city also features the corporate headquarters of PeoplesBank, the largest bank in Western Massachusetts, as well as the local Holyoke Credit Union.


The city's educational needs are served by Holyoke Public Schools, as well as the Holyoke Community Charter School and the Paulo Friere Social Justice High School. The Holyoke High School, William J. Dean Technical-Vocational High School, and the Paulo Friere Social Justice High School. The city's private schools include Mater Dolorosa Catholic School and Holyoke Catholic High School, the latter of which is now located in Chicopee.[79]

The city is also home to Holyoke Community College, the first community college in the state, which was initially created by the city's school board. Today the 2-year college selectively allows high school seniors to enroll in its coursework for transferable college credit,[80] and has the highest percentage of student graduates completing associate degrees and certificate programs among the state's community colleges,[81] with the aid of state and federal education grants the college opened the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute in cooperation with MGM Springfield in April 2018.[82][83]


Holyoke Public Library, found at 335 Maple Street, is one of the very few examples of neoclassical architecture in the city of Holyoke, designed by prominent local architect James A. Clough. It sits on Library Park, which was donated by the Holyoke Water Power Company in 1887; in 1870 the library was originally in a room in the old Appleton Street School. In 1876 it moved to a large central room on the main floor of City Hall, it remained there until it was determined that it had outgrown the space and a modern facility was required.[84] Holyoke's citizens were charged to raise money to construct the library building and provide additional books. Under the leadership of Henry Chase, $95,000 was raised. William Whiting and William Skinner, each gave $10,000. Clough, the architect tasked with designing the building, gave his services gratis because his daughter was a faithful patron of the library, it opened officially in 1902.[85][86]

At the dedication ceremony William Whiting, who was library president at the time, referred to the library as the "people's college" and added that: "A library is as much a part of the intellectual life of a community as its schools, and should be supported generously as part of our educational system. Within these walls you will find authors devoted to literature, arts and science, and they are free to any who will ask. We can say to the citizens of Holyoke you have only to ask her and you will find knowledge to make your life useful and happy."[84]


Saint Patrick's Day Parade[edit]

Holyoke is home to the second-largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the United States, surpassed only by the New York City parade.[87] Held annually since 1952 on the Sunday following St. Patrick's Day, the parade draws hundreds of thousands of people from across New England and the Eastern seaboard of United States, the Holyoke Saint Patrick's Day Parade typically attracts 350,000 to 450,000 people each year.[88]

Puerto Rican Day Parade[edit]

The Puerto Rican community of Holyoke holds an annual Puerto Rican Day parade on the third weekend of July as part of an Annual Hispanic Family Festival held by La Familia Hispana, inc, every year the parade grows in popularity, attracting Puerto Ricans from across the northeast.

Gay Pride Month observance[edit]

Mayor Alex B. Morse, who first became an activist for LGBT rights as a high school student in Holyoke only six years earlier, presided at the city's first rainbow flag-raising ceremony in recognition of Gay Pride Month in June 2012.[89]

Points of interest[edit]

Holyoke City Hall, Holyoke, M.A.[90]


The obverse-side of the city's centennial seal, prominently featuring volleyball, as well as water-skiing on the Connecticut River, and the former Mount Tom Ski Area, all sports associated with the city's history and culture.

Birthplace of Volleyball[edit]

On February 9, 1895, William G. Morgan invented volleyball, originally known as "mintonette" for its similarity to badminton, at the Holyoke YMCA. Though the original YMCA building in which the sport was first played was lost to fire in 1943, the Greater Holyoke YMCA remains an active chapter.[93] Today the Volleyball Hall of Fame resides in Holyoke at Holyoke Heritage State Park and inducts a new class of athletes, coaches, and contributors every October, the city's legacy in the creation of the sport is also honored by two volleyball clubs in the Netherlands, which borrow its name – Belfeldse Volleybalclub Holyoke, of Belfeld, and Volleybalvereniging Holyoke of Enter.[94][95]


Mackenzie Stadium during a Blue Sox game, seen from the grandstand.

The Valley Blue Sox, a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, play their home games at Mackenzie Stadium. Previously the Concord Quarry Dogs from 2001 until 2006, the collegiate summer baseball franchise moved to Holyoke in 2007, winning their first NECBL Championship in 2017.[96]

Holyoke has been home to a handful of minor league and collegiate baseball teams, among the first was the Holyoke Paperweights of the Connecticut League from 1903 to 1911.[97] The Holyoke Millers, a Double-A team, moved to the city following a single season in Pittsfield as the Berkshire Brewers. Early planning proved difficult for the team as they often had to coordinate with the athletic departments of Holyoke High School and Holyoke Catholic High School for use of the field at that time,[98] the Millers would leave for New Hampshire after their 1982 season, when the franchise changed its affiliation from the Milwaukee Brewers to the California Angels; that franchise is now the Harrisburg Senators.[99]

While unsuccessful attempts were made to attract a new team in the years that followed,[98] Holyoke would not host another until 2004. Following their departure from Middletown, Connecticut, the Holyoke Giants, a Futures Collegiate Baseball League team, made Mackenzie Stadium their home until 2007, subsequently becoming the North Shore Navigators of Lynn.[100]


Holyoke has a rich history in the world of boxing, it was in Holyoke that bantamweight Sixto Escobar, the first Puerto Rican to become a world champion, fought and won his first match in the United States, on May 7, 1934, against bantamweight contender and Canadian flyweight champion Bobby Leitham.[101][102] Most notably, Rocky Marciano's professional debut took place at the Valley Arena Gardens on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1947; the venue also served as the ring for many other well-known fighters including Beau Jack, Fritzie Zivic, and Tony DeMarco.[103] Prior to his professional career, one of Mike Tyson's earliest fights was at the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club on February 12, 1983, as the 8th ranked amateur super-heavyweight in the country at the age of 16, Tyson won the fight handily with a knock-out, and gained the Western Massachusetts Golden Gloves amateur title.[104][105] The Golden Gloves tournament was held in Holyoke from 1958 until 2005, when it was relocated to Vernon, Connecticut. Following an 8 year departure it returned briefly to the city,[106][107] and is held in Springfield today.[108]




Immediately south of Holyoke is the Massachusetts Turnpike, accessible from exit 14 on I-91 South:

US Highways[edit]

U.S. Highways serving Greater Holyoke include:

Massachusetts state highways[edit]

Massachusetts highways in the area include:


Passenger rail service returned to Holyoke in August 2015, after being absent since 1967.[109] Amtrak's Vermonter stops at the Holyoke station once a day in each direction. Several buses from the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority also operate in the city.


Despite its industrial history, Holyoke contains no Superfund sites.[110] One of the greatest producers of pollution in the area was the former Mount Tom Station, a coal plant in Smith's Ferry. Citizens cited higher rates of asthma, attributing them to the plant and after many years of discussion it was finally shuttered in December 2014;[111][112] in October 2016 ground was broken at the site for the construction of a new solar farm.[113]

Sister cities[edit]

A memorial plaque in Apremont, France, to the American soldiers who fought and died there, and honoring the city's gift of water during the village's reconstruction.

Holyoke has in the past established sister city relationships with cities abroad, including-

Less formal relationships, symbolic and historical have also been established with the following cities-

  • France Apremont-la-Forêt, France (1919), at the end of World War I, in honor of the fallen of the 104th Infantry, the city provided this village a new waterworks, public bath, and a community center under relief efforts led by Belle Skinner.[116][117][118] In honor of these contributions, the village renamed its town square Place d'Holyoke and its main street Rue Belle Skinner; in 1930 a former supply route built by soldiers of the regiment was dedicated in Massachusetts as the Apremont Highway in a joint ceremony between Holyoke and Westfield.[119]
  • Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico (2018), in the wake of Hurricane Maria many Puerto Ricans sought refuge with family in Holyoke, with more than 235 additional students enrolling in Holyoke public schools in the year following the natural disaster; on April 27th, 2018, a key to the city was presented to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz by Mayor Alex Morse to honor that "in such a time of despair [she] provided a beacon of hope and opportunity for Puerto Ricans"[120] in the city's community, and for her leadership in the wake of Hurricane Maria.[121]

Notable people[edit]

(B) denotes that the person was born there.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holyoke's boundaries, those of Smith's Ferry being an exception, were first defined as the 3rd parish of West Springfield; identified on maps as "Ireland" or "Ireland Parish" for the number of Irish families who had settled there.


  1. ^ a b Nutting, George M. (1937). Massachusetts; a guide to its places and people. Cambridge: The Riverside Press. p. 248. ...paper mills, attracted by cheap water-power from Hadley Falls Dam, have given the town the name of 'The Paper City.' 
  2. ^ a b Basbanes, Nicholas A. On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-thousand-year History. New York: Random House. p. 100. ISBN 9780307279644. To exploit the full potential of a natural waterfall that drops fifty-eight feet within a fifth of a mile on the Connecticut River, nineteenth-century engineers built the industrial city of Holyoke around three circular canals that generated sufficient power to operate...twenty-eight mills, which at their peak accounted for nearly 90 percent of the paper produced in the United States. Though every one of these mills would close in the years following World War II, the economically stressed community still calls itself 'Paper City.' 
  3. ^ a b Sullivan, Mark; Travis, William, eds. (2005). Fodor's Berkshires and Pioneer Valley. New York: Random House. p. 124. ISBN 9781400014675. Today, Holyoke—known as the 'birthplace of volleyball'—pays homage to Morgan with its Volleyball Hall of Fame. 
  4. ^ a b "Burt DeGroot". Stanford. 19: 61. 1991. DeGroots and their sons, Ned and Don, commuted last October from San Clemente, Calif. to Holyoke, Mass., the birthplace of volleyball, for Burt's induction into the National Volleyball Hall of Fame. 
  5. ^ For use in a publication from a different state, see "Holyoke, Massachusetts". Americana–Cities to See. The Indian Journal. Eufaula, Oklahoma. November 3, 1960. p. 6. Holyoke, Massachusetts, 'The Venice of America,' is a friendly, industrial city of 53,000 population in the Pioneer Valley, along the Connecticut River in Western Massachusetts. 
    • For use in a trade publication, see "[Paper] Converters Abound in Holyoke- Why converters move to 'Venice of America'—case histories in the city which 'specializes in specialties'". Pulp & Paper. Miller Freeman Publications. 30: 182. 1956. The 'Venice of America'— Holyoke, Mass.—has a number of what it calls 'incubator' buildings, ready for occupancy by paper converting plants... 
    • For use in an anthropological/historical context, see "Archaeological signs give insight to Holyoke". At the Quadrangle. The Springfield Union. Springfield, Mass. February 10, 1982. p. 32. Using artifacts and slides, the two will trace what they call 'The Venice of America,' one of the earliest planned industrial communities. 
    • For use by a sitting mayor, see Moriarty, Jo-Ann (January 29, 1984). "Things Looking Up for an 'Exciting Lady'". The Republican. Springfield, Mass. p. F-55. Mayor Ernest E. Proulx says cities are like women. 'And Holyoke is an exciting lady,' he often tells people when he is selling his city. 'There is a charm here... What other cities have what we have? The rolling topography, the mountains and reservoirs, the river, the canals— Holyoke is the Venice of North America. 
  6. ^ The Revised Ordinances of the City of Holyoke. Holyoke, Massachusetts: M. J. Doyle Printing Co. 1914. p. 159. 
  7. ^ a b c d Holland, Josiah Gilbert (1855). History of Western Massachusetts; the counties of Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire. Springfield, Mass.: Samuel Bowles. p. 70. On the 7th of July, 1786, the part of West Springfield now embraced in Holyoke was incorporated as the Third Parish of West Springfield, and was called 'Ireland,' and 'Ireland Parish,' from the fact that several Irish families were the first settlers of the territory, though there is no record of the date of their settlement 
  8. ^ a b An act to incorporate the town of Holyoke, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1850
  9. ^ a b An act to establish the city of Holyoke, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1873
  10. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Holyoke city, Massachusetts". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  12. ^ Root, Joshua L. (Fall 2009). "Something Will Drop: Socialists, Unions and Trusts in Nineteenth-Century Holyoke" (PDF). Historic Journal of Massachusetts. 37 (2): 38. 
  13. ^ Kinney, Jim (June 11, 2015). "'Paper Cluster' meeting hopes to invigorate old industry with new moves". MassLive. Springfield, Mass. Retrieved December 23, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Holyoke, MA Paper Manufacturers". Yellow Pages. DexYP. Archived from the original on December 23, 2017. Retrieved December 23, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Invention of the Venturi Meter". Nature. 136 (3433): 254. August 17, 1935. doi:10.1038/136254a0. Retrieved May 15, 2018. [The article] reproduces a letter from Herschel to the late Dr. Unwin describing his invention of the Venturi Meter, the letter is dated June 5, 1888, and addressed from the hydraulic engineer's office of the Holyoke Water Power Co., Mass. In his letter, Herschel says he tested a one-inch Venturi Meter, under 210 ft. head: 'I am now satisfied that here is a new and pregnant principle to be applied to the art of gauging fluids, inclusive of fluids such as compressed air, illuminating or fuel gases, steam, etc. Further, that the shape of the meter should be trumpet-shaped in both directions; such a meter will measure volumes flowing in either direction, which in certain localities becomes a useful attribute...' 
  16. ^ Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-15A). Flight Standards Service. Skyhorse Publishing; Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Dept. of Transportation. 2013. p. 5–17. ISBN 9781616083021. 
  17. ^ Serreze, Mary C. (July 20, 2016). "Palmer and Holyoke honored for 100% renewable energy commitment". MassLive. Springfield, Mass. Retrieved December 23, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Baker-Polito Administration Awards $1 Million Renewable Energy Grant to Holyoke". MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Commononwealth of Massachusetts. March 11, 2017. Archived from the original on December 23, 2017. Retrieved December 23, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Profile for Holyoke, Massachusetts, MA". ePodunk. Retrieved August 24, 2012. 
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  21. ^ Strycharz, Robb (1996–2006). "US-5: A Highway To History". Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  22. ^ holyoke.org: "Holyoke History Room Guest Lecture: John B. McCormick and the Hercules Turbine Water Wheel", March 5, 2014
  23. ^ Progress Publishing Company: "Engineering Mechanics: Electrical, Civil, Mechanical, and Mining Engineering, Volume 3: January–June 1883", p.231
  24. ^ "HolyokeHercules". www.frenchriverland.com. Retrieved March 26, 2018. 
  25. ^ "Service Off in Area For Up to 4 Hours– Only Holyoke, South Hadley Unaffected; Region Generally Calm During Cutoff". Springfield Union. November 10, 1965. p. 1. 
  26. ^ "Jet Engine Saves Town from Dark". The Jersey Journal. Jersey City, New Jersey. November 11, 1965. p. 15. A business - as - usual atmosphere existed in Holyoke, Mass during the blackout Tuesday night because of a jet engine. Francis H. King, manager of Holyoke's Gas and Electric Department, said a jet peaking and emergency power unit saved the city from the darkness of its neighbors, the peaking unit, developed by Worthington Corp., is powered by a jet aircraft engine and is capable of generating 12,000 kilowatts in approximately two minutes after start-up, King added. 
  27. ^ Richards, Harold H (1911). Richards Standard Atlas of the City of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Springfield, Mass.: Richards Map Company. 
  28. ^ "Plan of the New City at Hadley Falls". New City Weekly Times. Holyoke: J.F. Downing. 1849. 
  29. ^ Report of the History and Present Condition of the Hadley Falls Company at Holyoke, Massachusetts. Boston: The Hadley Falls Company. 1853. 
  30. ^ a b "The Public Humanist". The Valley Advocate. June 1, 2009. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  31. ^ McMaster, Robert T. (2014). The Dyeing Room. Williamsburg, Mass.: Unquomonk Press. p. 56. [T]he workers of Holyoke who were most vocal about the unions were the Irish, English, and Italians, groups with which most French Canadians had little sympathy. Many of the French operatives had come to Holyoke directly from their family farms in Québec, ready to work, grateful for their jobs, and not inclined to make demands of the hand that fed them. Back home in Canada, parish priests and bishops preached frequently of the evils of unions...[and] a society slipping into godless socialism. 
  32. ^ Green, Constance McLaughlin (1939). Holyoke, Massachusetts; a case history of the industrial revolution in America. Yale Historical Publications. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 368. 
  33. ^ Duany, Jorge (2017). Puerto Rico: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press. pp. 139–140. 
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Further reading[edit]

General history[edit]

Culture and immigration[edit]

  • Brahinsky, Rachel (1996). Ni para atras ni para coger impulso : life in Puerto Rican Holyoke (Div III). Hampshire College. OCLC 36622449. 
  • Gerson, Jeffrey; Hardy-Fanta, Carol, eds. (2014) [2002]. "Holyoke". Latino Politics in Massachusetts: Struggles, Strategies and Prospects. Routledge. p. 99. ISBN 9781135672140. 
  • Guillet, Ernest B. (1980). French ethnic literature and culture in an American city : a study of New England French Canadian and Franco-American writings and theatrical productions with emphasis on Holyoke, Massachusetts, a major center of French life as seen in its newspapers, novels, poems, and plays between 1869 and the mid twentieth century (PhD). University of Massachusetts. OCLC 49863028. 
  • Haebler, Peter (1976). Habitants in Holyoke: The Development of the French-Canadian Community in a Massachusetts City, 1865 - 1910 (PhD). University of New Hampshire. OCLC 163261568. 
  • Hartford, William F. (1990). Working people of Holyoke : class and ethnicity in a Massachusetts mill town, 1850-1960. New Brunswick, NJ.: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 9780813515762. OCLC 21041495. 
  • Smith, Bulkeley (1962). Holyoke's Negro Families; report to the Greater Holyoke Council of Churches of a survey. Greater Holyoke Council of Churches. OCLC 22333856. 
  • Sosar, David P. (2015). "A Tale of Two Cities: Holyoke, Massachusetts and Hazleton, Pennsylvania" (PDF). International Journal of Education and Social Science. 2 (1). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 14, 2018. 
  • Ueda, Reed, ed. (2017). "Holyoke, Puerto Rican Enclaves". America's Changing Neighborhoods: An Exploration of Diversity through Places. ABC-CLIO. p. 586. ISBN 9781440828652. 
  • Wiesinger, Gerwart (1994). Die deutsche Einwandererkolonie von Holyoke, Massachusetts, 1865-1920 [The German Immigrant Colony of Holyoke, Massachusetts, 1865-1920] (in German). Stuttgart: F. Steiner Verlag. OCLC 31941276. 

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