McKnight, Springfield, Massachusetts (and Mason Square)

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The McKnight National Register Historic District in Springfield, Massachusetts is known worldwide to urban-planners as the one of the first planned residential neighborhoods in the United States of America. Begun in 1870, to the North of the Old Hill neighborhood, a mixed-use area including homes and a variety of industrial uses, which had already been developed to serve workers at the Springfield Armory, the McKnight was built on land originally considered to be "Un-improvable Pine barrens" when the Armory and the area around it was laid out in the 1780s. Economic conditions had changed drastically by 1868 when the horse-drawn streetcars of the Springfield Street Railway first started to run on State Street, to the south of what became the McKnight District.

The neighborhood is located one mile from the urban Metro Center and is one of the smallest of the city's seventeen neighborhoods. It contains 306 acres of land, plus streets and railroads. Its boundaries are Armory and Federal Streets to the west; the Boston & Albany Railroad to the north; the Highland Division of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad and St. James Avenue to the east; and State Street to the south.[1]

History[edit]

In 1870, a group of business people led by brothers William and John McKnight planned the McKnight District as a residential community; most of it was constructed between 1870 and 1900. [1] McKnight contains Massachusetts' largest array of Victorian Houses outside of Greater Boston. The neighborhood's 900 ornate homes are part of a district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Much of its western half is also a local historic district with homes lovingly restored and preserved by residents.[2][3]

Several small decorative open spaces were built by the original developers of the community and still grace the neighborhood. These include the "Dingle", or McKnight Glen, the Thompson Triangle, three smaller triangles along Bay Street, and the decorative Dartmouth Terrace leading to the McKnight Glen from Thompson Triangle. To the west of the McKnight Section are the Springfield Armory, a portion of which has been preserved as the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, and the Springfield Technical Community College and Springfield's Downtown. I-291 skirts its northern edge, providing easy access to McKnight.

Mason Square, formerly Winchester Square, is the commercial heart of the McKnight District. It features a renovated (as of 2011) branch library, the original Indian Motorcycle Company building, American International College, and a monument to the first game of basketball placed on the site of the first-ever game, played at the original location of Springfield College.

References[edit]

Coordinates: 42°06′40″N 72°33′52″W / 42.1112°N 72.5644°W / 42.1112; -72.5644