Westfield is a city in Hampden County, in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 40,072 at the 2000 census. The ZIP Code is 01085 for homes and businesses, 01086 for Westfield State College and U.S. Post Office boxes.
The area was originally inhabited by the Pocomtuc tribe, and was called Woronoco (meaning "the winding land"). Trading houses were built in 1639-40 by settlers from the Connecticut Colony. Massachusetts asserted jurisdiction, and prevailed after a boundary survey. In 1647, Massachusetts made Woronoco part of Springfield, Massachusetts. Land was incrementally purchased from the Indians and granted by the Springfield town meeting to English settlers, beginning in 1658. The area of Woronoco or "Streamfield" began to be permanently settled in the 1660s. In 1669 (OS), "Westfield" was incorporated as an independent town; in 1920, it would be re-incorporated as a city.
From its founding until 1725, Westfield was the westernmost settlement in Massachusetts Colony. Town meetings were held in a church meeting house until 1839 when Town Hall was erected on Broad Street. This building also served as City Hall from 1920 to 1958. Due to its alluvial lands, the inhabitants of this area were entirely devoted to agricultural pursuits for about 150 years.
Early in the 19th century manufacture of bricks, whips, and cigars became economically important. At one point in the 1800s, Westfield was a prominent center of the buggy whip industry, and the city is still known as the "Whip City." Other firms produced bicycles, paper products, pipe organs, boilers and radiators, textile machinery, abrasives, wood products, and precision tools. Westfield transformed itself from an agricultural town into a thriving industrial city in the 19th century, but in the second half of the 20th century its manufacturing base was eroded by wage competition in the U.S. Southeast, then overseas.
Meanwhile, with cheap land and convenient access to east-west and north-south interstate highways, the north side developed into a warehousing center to C & S Wholesale, Home Depot, Lowes and other corporations. South of the river, the intersecting trends of growth of Westfield State College and declining manufacturing changed the city’s character. Students comprise some 15% of Westfield’s population and the old downtown business district caters increasingly to them while mainstream shopping relocates to a commercial strip called East Main St., actually part of U.S. Route 20. A Home Depot Store and a Price-Rite were recently added to Westfield’s wide array of shopping centers. These stores are located along Route 20.
Only four buildings exceed four stories. Until a major fire on January 6, 1952 the Westfield Professional Building covered half a downtown city block and was six stories tall. The entire building was consumed with extensive damage to neighboring buildings because fire department’s ladder and snorkel vehicles weren’t tall enough and the building did not have a sprinkler system. Subsequent zoning prohibited virtually all new construction over three stories, even after improvements in fire suppression technologies and vehicles became available.
In the early 20th century, Westfield was at the center of the Pure Food movement, an effort to require stricter standards on the production of food. Louis B. Allyn, a Westfield resident and pure foods expert for McClure’s, lived in Westfield until his murder. In 1906, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.
Westfield is located at . It is bordered on the north by Southampton, on the northeast by Holyoke, on the east by West Springfield, on the southeast by Agawam, on the south by Southwick, on the southwest by Granville, on the west by Russell, and on the northwest by Montgomery. Westfield is split into the "South Side" and the "North Side" by the Westfield River, and the northwestern section of town is known as Wyben.(42.129492, -72.745986)
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 47.3 square miles (122.6 km²), of which, 46.6 square miles (120.6 km²) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.9 km²) of it (1.56%) is water.
Westfield is situated at the western edge of the downfaulted Connecticut River Valley where the Westfield River emerges from the Berkshire Hills and flows through the center of the city on its way to the Connecticut River some ten miles (15 km) downstream. Because of its large, steep and rocky upstream watershed the river has a history of severe flood episodes, inundating adjacent parts of Westfield several times. In spite of a complicated system of pumps, dikes, waterways, and upstream dams, Westfield lies in a floodplain zone and is still considered flood prone.
Westfield is bordered on the east by linear cliffs of volcanic traprock known as East Mountain and Provin Mountain. They are part of the Metacomet Ridge, a mountainous traprock ridgeline that stretches from Long Island Sound to nearly the Vermont border. Both are traversed by the 110 mile Metacomet-Monadnock Trail.
Westfield is on the fringe of the greater Northeast megalopolis—the most densely populated region of the United States—and has experienced substantial land development for suburban residential and commercial uses for the past six decades. Yet it borders "Hilltowns" to the west that were depopulated of subsistence farmers in the 1800s as land became readily available on the western frontier. With population dipping below ten per square kilometer in some upland townships, forests are reverting almost to pre-settlement conditions with wild turkey, bears, coyotes and even moose returning after absences perhaps measured in centuries. This transition over a few kilometers from 21st century urbanization to nearly those of early colonial times is notable if not unique.
At the 2000 census, there were 40,072 people, 14,797 households and 10,017 families residing in the city. The population density was 860.3 per square mile (332.2/km²). There were 15,441 housing units at an average density of 331.5/sq mi (128.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.53% White, 0.91% African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.82% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 2.12% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.01% of the population.
Westfield has long been a multicultural city with significant enclaves of Italians, Irish, Poles, French Canadians and Puerto Ricans. Since 1991 Westfield has welcomed Ukrainians and Russians (often by way of other republics such as Kazakhstan). Especially prominent are fundamentalist Protestants who were persecuted for their lack of atheist zeal under Communism, then encountered more problems as new governments sought to restore the Russian Orthodox Church — or Islam in Central Asia—while trying to suppress "western" denominations.
There were 14,797 households of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.0% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.3% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.07.
Age distribution was 23.8% under the age of 18, 12.6% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.8 males.
The median household income was $45,240, and the median family income was $55,327. Males had a median income of $38,316 versus $27,459 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,600. About 6.9% of families and 11.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.2% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.
Westfield is governed by a mayor and a city council, elected every two years. The Office of the Mayor is responsible for a variety of services throughout the city and the mayor also serves as Chairman of the School Committee. The City Council meets the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month at 7:30 in City Hall.
The city is also home to Westfield State College.
The Massachusetts Turnpike crosses Westfield just north of the central business district. The "Mass Pike" is part of I-90 extending east to Boston and west to Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, and across the Upper Midwest, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to Spokane and Seattle. About 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Westfield, the turnpike intersects I-91 which generally follows the Connecticut River Valley south to Springfield, Hartford and New Haven or north to Canada (Quebec).
Westfield’s main north-south thoroughfare is US 202/Route 10, which includes parts of Southwick Rd., S. Maple St., W. Silver St., Pleasant St., Court St., Broad St., Elm St., North Elm St., and Southampton Rd. At the intersection of Southampton Rd. and North Rd., Rte. 10 continues on Southampton Rd. toward Southampton while US 202 follows North Rd. toward Holyoke.
Apart from limited-access I-90, the main east-west thoroughfare is US 20, which includes parts of Russell Rd., Franklin St., Elm St., Main St., E. Main St., and Springfield Rd. Route 187 also ends in Westfield. Other main roads include Western Ave., Granville Rd., Union St., and Montgomery Rd. East Mountain Rd. is the longest road in Westfield.
Great River Bridge project
A notable choke point for north/south travel is the Great River Bridge commonly known as the "Green Bridge" over the Westfield River. This is a three lane through truss bridge. Currently (August 2007), there is an active project to create a second bridge just to the east (downstream). The new bridge will be a similar through-truss bridge with two spans totaling 368 feet (112 m). After the second bridge is completed the existing bridge will be refurbished; then each bridge will carry traffic in one direction. Blessed Sacrament Church on North Elm Street was torn down for this project to start. The Church was reconstructed on Holyoke Road and was finished in October 2009. The new bridge opened for traffic and the old one was closed for renovations on August 18, 2009.
Westfield is at the junction of the east-west Boston and Albany Railroad and a north-south spur of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. There is no more passenger service, however Pioneer Valley Railroad and CSX provide freight service. More than 35 motor freight carriers with nearby terminals provide competitive freight service locally and to all distant points.
The city is presently served by two PVTA bus routes to Springfield and Holyoke. Bus and rail service to all points is available at Springfield.
Barnes Municipal Airport in Westfield has charter passenger services.
Albany International Airport is a practical alternative to Bradley—similar flight offerings and about a 90 minute drive west via I-90.
Points of interest
Bands from Westfield