Chicopee, Massachusetts

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Chicopee, Massachusetts
City Hall, Chicopee MA.jpg
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Berchmans Hall, Elms College, Chicopee MA.jpg
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Seal of Chicopee, Massachusetts.svg
Crossroads of New England
Kielbasa Capital of the World [1] [2]
Industriæ Variæ(Latin)
"Varied Industries"
Hampden County Massachusetts incorporated and unincorporated areas Chicopee highlighted.svg
Location in Hampden County in Massachusetts
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Chicopee, Massachusetts
Location in the United States
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Chicopee, Massachusetts
Chicopee, Massachusetts (Massachusetts)
Coordinates: 42°08′55″N72°36′30″W / 42.14861°N 72.60833°W / 42.14861; -72.60833 Coordinates: 42°08′55″N72°36′30″W / 42.14861°N 72.60833°W / 42.14861; -72.60833
CountryFlag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of Massachusetts.svg  Massachusetts
County Seal of Hampden County, Massachusetts.svg Hampden
Incorporated (town)April 29, 1848
Incorporated (city)April 18, 1890
  Type Mayor–council city
   Mayor John L. Vieau ([Independent Party (United States)
  Total23.88 sq mi (61.83 km2)
  Land22.91 sq mi (59.33 km2)
  Water0.97 sq mi (2.51 km2)
200 ft (61 m)
(2019) [5]
  Density2,406.62/sq mi (929.22/km2)
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern)
  Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern)
ZIP Codes
01013, 01020, 01021, 01022
Area code(s) 413
FIPS code 25-13660
GNIS feature ID0617597

Chicopee ( /ˈɪkəpi/ CHIK-ə-pee) is a city located on the Connecticut River in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 55,298, making it the second-largest city in Western Massachusetts after Springfield. As of 2019, the estimated population was 55,126. [6] Chicopee is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The communities of Chicopee Center (Cabotville), Chicopee Falls, Willimansett, Fairview, Aldenville, Burnett Road, Smith Highlands and Westover are located within the city.


One of the ventures of the Boston Associates, [7] Chicopee is a city built around several smaller former mill communities on its namesake, the Chicopee River. During the 19th century, the city was home to the first American producer of friction matches as well as a variety of other industries, [8] including the Ames Manufacturing Company, an early pioneer in machining lathes, building upon the work of Springfield's Thomas Blanchard, and the largest producer of swords and cutlasses for the Union Army during the Civil War. [9] [10] By the start of the 20th century, the city was home to a number of industrial plants, including those of the Fisk Tire Company, one of the largest tire makers of that time, and some of the earliest sporting goods factories of A. G. Spalding. [11]

Today the city is home to a variety of specialty manufacturers, as well as Westover Air Reserve Base, the largest Air Force Reserve Base of the United States, built in 1940 with the emergence of World War II. [12] Chicopee today goes by the nickname the "Crossroads of New England" as part of a business-development marketing campaign, one that West Springfield also uses. The name reflects the city's location among a number of metropolitan areas and its transportation network. Four interstate highways run through its boundaries, including I-90, I-91, I-291, and I-391, as well as state routes such as Route 33, 116, and 141.


The city is named after the Chicopee River, a tributary that flows into the Connecticut River at the confluence on in its boundaries. "Chicopee" is derived from the Nipmuc language, probably from the words chekee ("violent") and pe ("waters") in most Algonquian dialects, with reference to rapids. The Nipmuc were the indigenous people who occupied this area before the arrival of European colonists.

Alternatively, chikkuppee ("of cedar") may be the adjective form of chickkup ("cedar"). [13]


Nayasett (Cabotville and Chicopee Falls)

Village of Cabotville, Springfield, Massachusetts (1844).jpg
Top to bottom: Cabotville as it appeared in 1844, prior to the incorporation of Chicopee; the dam at Chicopee Falls today

In 1636, William Pynchon purchased land from the Agawam Indians on the east side of the Connecticut River. He moved from the Town of Roxbury to Springfield to found the first settlement in the area that comprises the territory of today's Chicopee Center (Cabotville). Both Cabotville and the Falls were developed as manufacturing centers (villages). [14]

According to local historian Charles J. Seaver, the area above the falls was first settled in 1660. The land purchased from the Indians was divided into districts. Nayasett (Nipmuc for "at the small point/angle") was the name given to the area of what are now Chicopee Center and Chicopee Falls. The settlement in the upper district was at Skipmuck (possibly based on Nipmuc Skipmaug, meaning "chief fishing place" or Shipmuck, meaning "big watery place"), a place above the falls on the south side of the river.

Colonists built a sawmill as the first industrial site along the river. The mill was built at Skenungonuck (Nipmuc for "green fields") Falls (now Chicopee Falls) in 1678 by Japhet Chapin, John Hitchcock and Nathaniel Foote.

In 1786, what was called Factory Village began to develop when two acres of land was leased to 10 local men, with the understanding that they would build an iron foundry within two years. This was accomplished and the business flourished.

Child laborer in Chicopee, 1911.
Photo by Lewis Hine. Tony Soccha, a young bobbin boy, been working there a year. Chicopee, Mass. - NARA - 523488.jpg
Child laborer in Chicopee, 1911.
Photo by Lewis Hine.

In 1823, Jonathan Dwight purchased the water privilege at Skenungonuck Falls in Chicopee. He built a textile mill and five years later, it operated 14,000 spindles and nearly 500 looms, making it the second-largest operation in the state. It processed cotton from the Deep South, becoming part of the extended slave economy and King Cotton. By 1831, settlers had developed two giant dams, two waterpower canals, and two manufacturing communities on the Chicopee River.

In 1848, Chicopee, which for more than two centuries had been a part of the Town of Springfield, was separated and organized as a distinct town. Political factions in Springfield wanted that jurisdiction to remain a town, rather than become a city and take on a mayoral form of government. By partitioning Chicopee, those political factions prevented Springfield from becoming a city until 1852. The result was that Springfield lost 2/5 of its land area and nearly half of its population when Chicopee was created.

Before and after the partition, eight Chicopee River companies gained product recognition around the globe: Ames, Belcher, Lamb, Dwight, Stevens, Spalding, Fisk, and Duryea. Below the falls, in the bend of the river at a place called Factory Village, an important chapter of the region's industrial history was played out.

Various industries

Chicopee adopted the motto "Industriae Variae", which means "Various Industries". Chicopee's industries included cotton mills, woolen mills, textiles, brass and iron foundries, paper making, footwear factories, for leather boots and shoes, the first friction matches, and ship building. In nearby South Hadley Canal, the firearms company Crescent-Davis specialized in producing double-barrel shotguns.

The Ames Manufacturing Company made many machines and bronze cannons, and more swords than any other American manufacturer at the time. Ames cast a number of bronze statues, including Thomas Ball's monumental equestrian statue of President George Washington, installed in Boston's Public Garden. Ames was a major provider of cannon to the Union army during the Civil War. [15] The Stevens Arms plant (later Savage) was responsible for most of the No. 4 Enfields manufactured for the British under Lend-Lease. Chicopee was home to production of the first gasoline-powered automobile made in the United States, the Duryea. [16] [17]


Overman advert 1891 Overman ad SportsmansDirectory.png
Overman advert

During the late nineteenth century, Chicopee Falls became a major manufacturing center of bicycles. [18] The town was the site of at least two bicycle factories: The Overman Wheel Company (1882 to about 1899), and the Spalding sporting goods company. [19]

Albert H. Overman moved his bicycle production from Hartford, Connecticut to Chicopee Falls in 1883. [18] The Overman company benefited from the surging popularity of the safety bicycle during the bicycle boom of the 1890s. At its height in 1894, Overman's factory employed over 1,200 workers. The boom eventually went bust, as overproduction drove the price of bicycles down. By 1901 the Overman firm was out of business. [18]


Chicopee was the first city west of Boston to form a publicly funded public library. The Chicopee Public Library was formed by a donation to the city by the Cabotville Institute.

Main Branch of the Chicopee Public Library ChicopeeLibrary.jpg
Main Branch of the Chicopee Public Library



In 1641, Willian Pynchon expanded his 1636 holdings by buying the land from the Chicopee River north to the Willimansett (Nipmuc for "good berries place" or "place of red earth") Brook. Land sales in Chicopee were recorded in 1659, but apparently no homes were built immediately.

Winthrop McKinstry writes that the sons of Deacon Samuel Chapin appear to be the first home builders. Henry Chapin is believed to have constructed his at Exchange and West streets (lower Chicopee) in 1664, and Japhet Chapin north of what is now known as James Ferry Road (upper Chicopee) in 1673. It is apparent from McKinstry's book that the Chapin family dominated the area north of the Chicopee River for the settlement's first 70 years. Chicopee Street was part of the First Parish in Springfield.

By the 1750s, Quabbin Road (now McKinstry Avenue) allowed the farmers to access the meadows and fields on the plains at the top of the hill. The Chapins used the land in common for grazing livestock and built ice houses near several large ponds. The ponds were drained by several brooks which flowed into the Connecticut River.

At the end of the 19th century, the city voted to build the Willimansett Bridge, connecting Willimansett with Holyoke. The results were profound. Willimansett and Aldenville would develop close ties to Holyoke; even postal and telephone service were (and still are) tied to the "Paper City." The legislative act ordering the building of the bridge was passed in 1892. L.L. Johnson reports that the completion of the bridge was grandly celebrated.

By the 20th century, Willimansett village had developed into quintessential Americana with a high percentage of French Canadian inhabitants. In total, Chicopee became four distinct commercial and political sub-divisions, each with its own ethnic makeup representing its own special interests and, much too frequently, in conflict with each other.

Located between Fairview and Willimansett, the Smith Highlands section once had its own school (first and second grades), Holyoke Street Railway bus service from Ingham Street across Irene, Factory, and Prospect streets, and two locally owned markets. The former Robert's Pond swimming area was a popular summer attraction, and the fields where the current Bellamy Junior High School is located were a popular sledding and skiing location winters.


Fairview is the northernmost neighborhood (village) in Chicopee and originally included the lands that are now part of Westover ARB. Primarily agricultural, Fairview was known for its tobacco farms. After 1939, Westover helped to rapidly develop the village into a residential and commercial district. Memorial Drive (Route 33) flows north–south connecting Chicopee Falls with South Hadley.


On August 18, 1870, Edward Monroe Alden purchased 600 acres of land just east of Willimansett for the sum of $9,000 with the intent to create a "little city on the hill," which would become Aldenville. In 1890, he began laying out streets which he named for family members and divided the land up into 60-by-170 feet lots. French-Canadian factory workers from Chicopee Falls, Cabotville (Chicopee Center), and Holyoke began to build up the community. Sold for a selling price of $150 with $10 down, the first house was bought and built by French-Canadian builder and carpenter Marcellin Croteau. [20]

Partition from Springfield and modern history

Seal of the former Town of Chicopee, prior to its incorporation as a city in 1890 ChicopeeTownMA-seal.png
Seal of the former Town of Chicopee, prior to its incorporation as a city in 1890
Basilica of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr Basilica of St. Stanislaus, Chicopee MA.jpg
Basilica of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr

The villages of Cabotville, Chicopee Falls, Willimansett, and Fairview (and the lands that would become Aldenville) remained a part of Springfield, Massachusetts, from 1636 until 1848, when they were partitioned to form the Town of Chicopee. Political factions in Springfield had wished to keep Springfield a "town," instead of becoming a "city," which would give it a mayoral form of government. To keep Springfield sufficiently unpopulated to subvert a state regulation that would have required it to become a city, they partitioned Chicopee, which contained approximately 2/5 of Springfield's land area, and nearly half of its population.

Regardless of the partition, Springfield became a city only four years after the partition of Chicopee. Both cities continued to flourish for over a century after the partition.

On April 18, 1890, the community was granted a charter as a city by the Massachusetts General Court. George Sylvester Taylor (1822–1910) became Chicopee's first mayor on January 5, 1891.

Westover Field was created by a war-readiness appropriation signed by president Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. The site used to be tobacco crop fields east of and part of Fairview, east of Aldenview, and northern Willimansett. It was assigned to the United States Army Air Corps Northeast Air District. It was renamed Westover Air Force Base in 1948 after that Air Force's creation as a separate service. In 1974 SAC leadership turned the base over to the Air Force Reserve.

In 1991, St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church, located on Front Street, was proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II.


Chicopee is located at 42°10′13″N72°35′19″W / 42.17028°N 72.58861°W / 42.17028; -72.58861 (42.170159, -72.588630). [21]

The city is made up of several neighborhoods; the result of the city's origin as a collection of four villages in the northernmost part of Springfield, which seceded from it in 1848. Chicopee Falls, Chicopee Center (Cabotville), Fairview, and Willimansett continued to develop. In the early 1900s, Aldenville developed as a distinct community. Since then, the city has filled in most of its open space resulting in a number of new neighborhoods. These neighborhoods include Chicomansett, Ferry Lane, Sandy Hill and the geographically isolated Burnett Road neighborhood.

The city is bordered by Holyoke to the northwest, West Springfield to the southwest, Springfield to the south, Ludlow to the east, Granby to the northeast and South Hadley to the north. Chicopee is located 29 miles (47 km) away from Hartford, 89 miles (143 km) away from Boston, 90 miles (140 km) from Albany and 140 miles (230 km) from New York City.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.9 square miles (62 km2), of which 22.9 square miles (59 km2) is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2) (4.31%) is water. The Chicopee River flows through the south part of the city, emptying into the Connecticut River. Many ponds, lakes, and streams are part of the Chicopee River or Connecticut River watersheds.

Willimansett, and portions of the Center and Falls are on low land, with Aldenville, Fairview, Westover, and the Burnett Road neighborhoods on an elevated plateau. At 288 feet, the highest elevation in the city is on Old Lyman Road, in the Fairview section.



Westover ARB Tower at The Great New England Air Show Westover Air Reserve Base tower.jpg
Westover ARB Tower at The Great New England Air Show


A Chicopee War Memorial Chicopee WWII Memorial.jpg
A Chicopee War Memorial
A tank in Szot Park Szot Park Tank 1.jpg
A tank in Szot Park
Chicopee City Hall City Hall, Chicopee MA.jpg
Chicopee City Hall
Edward Bellamy House ChicopeeMA EdwardBellamyHouse.jpg
Edward Bellamy House


The standard 5-cup Chemex coffeemaker, as seen on display at the Brooklyn Museum Peter Schlumbohm. Coffee Maker, Designed 1941.jpg
The standard 5-cup Chemex coffeemaker, as seen on display at the Brooklyn Museum

Chicopee is mostly a service economy with a mixture of small, local businesses and national chains. Reflecting the city's history, many businesses are Polish-American and include the Chicopee Provision Company, a major producer of Polish sausage kielbasa under the Blue Seal brand, and Millie's Pierogi, a producer of traditional Polish dumplings called pierogi.

Despite changes in the global economy, Chicopee does remain home to manufacturers including Callaway Golf which produces more than 5 million golfballs a year at its Willamansett production plant. [27] Since 2013, Chicopee has been home to the headquarters of the Chemex Corporation, makers of the Chemex pour-over coffeemaker, which has been produced with the same design since 1941. [28] [29] Chicopee also hosts the Buxton Company, which "designs, manufactures, and markets personal leather goods, travel kits, and gifts collections for men and women." Founded as L.A.W. Novelty Co. in 1898, the firm changed its name to Buxton Co., LLC in 1921. [30]

Chicopee is home to a handful of financial businesses as well including Alden Credit Union, [31] The Polish National Credit Union [32] and Chicopee Savings Bank. [33] Chicopee Savings Bank is run by Chicopee Bancorp, which operates trades as CBNK on the NASDAQ exchange.[ citation needed ]

The Chicopee River Business Park and Westover Business Park are within the city's boundaries.


Historical population
1850 8,291    
1860 7,261−12.4%
1870 9,607+32.3%
1880 11,286+17.5%
1890 14,050+24.5%
1900 19,167+36.4%
1910 25,401+32.5%
1920 36,214+42.6%
1930 43,930+21.3%
1940 41,664−5.2%
1950 49,211+18.1%
1960 61,553+25.1%
1970 66,676+8.3%
1980 55,112−17.3%
1990 56,632+2.8%
2000 54,653−3.5%
2010 55,298+1.2%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data. [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43]
U.S. Decennial Census [6] [44]

As of the census of 2010, Chicopee was 3.1% black, 1.6% Asian, 18.5% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 75% white

As of the census [45] of 2000, there were 54,653 people, 23,117 households, and 14,147 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,389.7 people per square mile (922.7/km2). There were 24,424 housing units at an average density of 1,067.9 per square mile (412.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.82% White, 2.28% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.87% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 4.90% from other races, and 1.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.76% of the population (12.8% Puerto Rican, 0.5% Dominican, 0.4% Mexican, 0.2% Colombian). Chicopee is the second largest municipality in Western Massachusetts, after Springfield (defining Western Massachusetts as Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties).

There were 23,117 households, out of which 26.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.8% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 22.6% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,672, and the median income for a family was $44,136. Males had a median income of $35,585 versus $25,975 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,646. About 9.6% of families and 12.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.5% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.


The former Chicopee High School, now the DuPont Memorial Middle School serving grades 6 through 8 Old chs.jpg
The former Chicopee High School, now the DuPont Memorial Middle School serving grades 6 through 8

College of Our Lady of the Elms

The College of Our Lady of the Elms is a four-year liberal arts college offering thirty-three academic majors. It was first founded in 1897 as a girls' preparatory academy in Pittsfield, the Academy of Our Lady of the Elms. In 1899, it moved to Chicopee as St. Joseph's Normal College. A charter for the school to operate as a women's liberal arts college was approved in 1928, and the name was changed to the College of Our Lady of the Elms. It began admitting men in 1998.

Private elementary

Chicopee has a multitude of Catholic schools that are operated under the Diocese of Springfield. These schools include: Saint Joan of Arc School which serves Saint Rose de Lima Church on Grattan Street; and Saint Stanislaus School which serves the St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr's Parish Bishop and Martyr on Front Street.

Within the past decade, a number of private elementary schools and their associated parishes have closed. These include Assumption School which served the former Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish, Saint Patrick's School which served the former Saint Patrick's parish (closure of this parish is currently in dispute), Holy Name School which served Holy Name of Jesus parish, Mount Carmel School which served the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish, and Saint George School which served Saint George's parish that merged with Saint Rose de Lima / Saint Joan of Arc School.

Private secondary

Holyoke Catholic High School Hchsbuilding1.jpg
Holyoke Catholic High School

Holyoke Catholic High School was founded in 1963 at the campus of the former Saint Jerome High School in Holyoke. In 2002 it relocated to the campus of Saint Hyacinth Seminary in Granby. It moved to its current location in September 2008.

Notable people

Edward Bellamy, circa 1889 Edward Bellamy - photograph c.1889.jpg
Edward Bellamy, circa 1889

See also

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Overman Wheel Company was an early bicycle manufacturing company in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts from 1882 to 1900. It was known for bicycles of higher quality and lower weight than other bicycles of its time. Despite a nationwide bicycle craze in the late 1800s, the company was undercut by lower-priced competition, nearly went bankrupt in 1897, and never recovered from an 1899 fire. The company was sold in 1900.

Chapin School (Chicopee, Massachusetts) United States historic place

The Chapin School is a historic former school building at 40 Meadow Street in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Built in 1899 and enlarged over the following 15 years, it is a prominent local example of Classical Revival architecture, and exemplifies city planning of the period, having been designed with growth in mind. The building, now converted to residences for homeless veterans, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 39,880 people, 15,361 households, and 9,329 families residing in the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts. The population density was 723.6/km² (1,874/mi²). There were 16,384 housing units at an average density of 277.2/km² (718.6/mi²).


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Further reading