Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where It's At

I was in downtown Springfield today, at a site where there is one of my favorite views of the Springfield skyline.

Looking closer, I could see that the Campanile was having some work done to it. The corners of the building are in need of some restoration, and they are putting up netting as a temporary safety measure.

Looking at the Monarch tower looming behind it, got me to thinking about some interesting pictures posted recently by Michael Dobbs' Out of the Inkwell.

They show the Campanile, then also called the Renaissance Tower, rising highest above the landscape, just after it's dedication in 1913. It's spire joined the County Courthouse and First Church's, ringing the bustling Court Square. The literature accompanying the old photos, taken from a promotional pamphlet, are equally interesting. They promote Springfield's numerous railroad, fine hotels, and twenty theaters. The city was the only in New England to meet a '1 shade tree for every 5 residents' ratio, making it "A city with country blessings." The 12 bells on the Campanile rang out every quarter hour...

Many things have held up over the century since, like "The Purest Filtrated Water, from the Berkshires." Or it's "Notable Art Museum." (I'll let you decide on it's "Enviable Reputation as an Educational Center")...

The pamphlet also shows Court Square, with it's giant shade trees. No more trolleys, but still looking good.

The old pictures show a Springfield that had just doubled it's population in less than 20 years, to about 102,000. Everyone was coming to the city. It was the place to be...

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