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Holyoke, Massachusetts
City of Holyoke
Holyoke Skyline.jpg
North High Street, Holyoke MA.jpg
Holyoke Heritage State Park, Holyoke MA.jpg
Beech Street in Spring, Holyoke, Massachusetts.jpg
Holyoke Dam during thaw, 2018.jpg
Clockwise from top: The Holyoke skyline with the clock tower of City Hall and Mount Tom Range in the background, Holyoke Heritage State Park and the Canalwalk, the Holyoke Dam, the Beech Street landscape in spring, and North High Street Historic District
Flag of Holyoke, Massachusetts
Official seal of Holyoke, Massachusetts
Official logo of Holyoke, Massachusetts
The Paper City
Birthplace of Volleyball
The Venice of America
Industria et Copia (Latin)
"Industry and Abundance"
Location in Hampden County in Massachusetts
Location in Hampden County in Massachusetts
Holyoke, Massachusetts is located in Massachusetts
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Location in Massachusetts
Holyoke, Massachusetts is located in the United States
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Massachusetts
County HampdenCountyMA-seal.svg Hampden
Settled 1655
Incorporated (parish) July 7, 1786
Incorporated (town) March 14, 1850
Incorporated (city) April 7, 1873
Founded by George C. Ewing
Boston Associates
Named for Elizur Holyoke
 • Type Mayor-council city
 • Total 22.78 sq mi (59.01 km2)
 • Land 21.16 sq mi (54.82 km2)
 • Water 1.62 sq mi (4.19 km2)
200 ft (60 m)
Highest elevation 1,202 ft (366 m)
 • Total 38,238
 • Density 1,807.09/sq mi (697.52/km2)
Demonym(s) Holyoker
Holyokian (rare)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Codes
01040, 01041 (P.O.)
Area code(s) 413
FIPS code 25-30840
GNIS feature ID 0617679

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 2020 census, the city had a population of 38,238. Located 8 miles (13 km) north of Springfield, Holyoke is part of the Springfield Metropolitan Area, one of the two distinct metropolitan areas in Massachusetts.

Holyoke is among the early planned industrial cities in the United States. Built in tandem with the Holyoke Dam to utilize the water power of Hadley Falls, it is one of a handful of cities in New England built on the grid plan. During the late 19th century the city produced an estimated 80% of the writing paper used in the United States and was home to the largest paper mill architectural firm in the country, as well as the largest paper, silk, and alpaca wool mills in the world. Although a considerably smaller number of businesses in Holyoke work in the paper industry today, it is still commonly referred to as "The Paper City". Today the city contains a number of specialty manufacturing companies, as well as the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, an intercollegiate research facility which opened in 2012. 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.

While managing the Holyoke Testing Flume 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 widely used in a number of engineering applications today, including waterworks and carburators, as well as aviation instrumentation. Powered by these municipally owned canals, Holyoke has among the lowest energy rates in the Commonwealth, and as of 2016 between 85% and 90% of the city's energy was carbon neutral, with administrative goals in place to reach 100% in the future.


Englishmen 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. West Springfield's northernmost parish (alternately called Third Parish, North Parish, or Ireland Parish) became Holyoke, named after earlier Springfield settler William Pynchon's son-in-law, Elizur Holyoke, who had first explored the area in the 1650s. The village of Holyoke was first settled in 1745 and was officially incorporated in 1850.

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.

High St. Showing Holyoke Range in distance, Holyoke, Mass
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.

Holyoke had few inhabitants until the construction of a 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.

Holyoke's population rose from just under 5,000 in 1860 to over 60,000 in 1920. 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.

Planned industrial community

Holyoke was one of the first planned industrial communities in the United States. 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. Its grid pattern is notable in Western Massachusetts, where few roads are straight. 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. From the late 19th century until the mid-20th century, Holyoke was the world's biggest paper manufacturer. The elaborate Holyoke Canal System, built to power paper and textile mills, distinguishes it from other Connecticut River cities. Holyoke is nicknamed "The Paper City" due to its fame as the world's greatest paper producer.


Mount Tom Massachusetts
View from Mount Tom

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).

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, 1202 feet (363 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.


The City of Holyoke is divided into 15 distinct neighborhoods; in alphabetical order, they are:


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%
2020 38,238 −4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2020, there were 38,238 people in 15,504 households. There were 16,874 housing units in the city.

The racial makeup in 2017 was 84.9% white (33.0% non-Hispanic white), 21.8% black, 0.4% Native American, 1.6% Asian (0.4% Cambodian, 0.4% Indian, 0.3% Chinese, 0.3% Korean, 0.1% Pakistani), 0.1% Pacific Islander, 6.6% some other race, and 4.6% from mixed race. Hispanics and Latinos of any race were 51.2% of the population (40.7% Puerto Rican, 7.3% Dominican, 1.8% Mexican, 1.5% Colombian, 1.9% Cuban, 6.4% Venezuelan, 0.3% Salvadoran, 0.2% Argentine, 0.1% Honduran, 0.1% Guatemalan). The ten largest ancestry groups in the city were Irish (13.4%), Polish (8.3%), French (7.2%), German (4.4%), Italian (3.8%), English (3.6%), French-Canadian (3.3%), American (2.8%), Scottish (1.0%), and sub-Saharan African (0.9%). Immigrants accounted for 28.8% of the population. The ten most common countries of origin for immigrants in the city were Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Poland, Germany, China, El Salvador, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Kenya, and Mexico.

There were 15,361 households in 2010, 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.

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.

The city reached a peak rank as the 82nd largest city in the United States by 1900, comparable to the standing of Buffalo (83rd) or Scottsdale (85th) among cities in 2018. Holyoke reached its peak population before the end of the First World War with an estimated 62,300 residents according reported in 1913 by the school superintendent at that time, and 65,286 reported for 1916 by the World Book. Following a period of de-industrialization after the war and into the end of the 20th century, the population briefly stabilized during the first decade of the 21st century before continuing to decline during the 2010s.

Employment and income

For the period 2013–2017, the estimated median annual income for a household in the city was $37,954, and the median income for a family was $46,940. Male full-time workers had a median income of $46,888 versus $41,406 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,625. About 24.7% of families and 28.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 45.6% of those under age 18 and 19.8% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2017, the city had the most recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance per capita of any in Massachusetts, with 37% of residents receiving such benefits. Of all ZIP codes in the Commonwealth, including those of Boston, Holyoke had the third highest total households receiving such assistance, with the highest per capita of any of the state's 351 municipalities, representing 54% of all households. A 2020 study by the Urban Institute found Holyoke to be the least socio-economically inclusive city in New England for minorities, despite them representing the largest group demographically. The report found between 2010 and 2015 the racial educational attainment gap narrowed by 30%, however homeownership declined slightly, and the proportion of working poor marginally increased.

Ethnicity and immigration

A High Street laundry shop owned and operated by Mr. Lee Wong Hing, a Chinese American merchant, c. 1904; populations of foreign-born nationals residing in Holyoke during the Second Industrial Revolution

Throughout its history Holyoke has undergone fluctuations in different foreign-born demographics. In 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. 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, and Puerto Ricans, Greeks, Colombians, and Dominicans in the subsequent decades.

Historically, a city of working-class immigrants, the first wave of millworkers was predominantly Irish. Irish immigrants began settling in the region before the construction of the dam and industrialization that followed, granting the area the name "Ireland" or "Ireland Parish." While colonists had claimed lands by 1655, it wasn't until the following decade homesteads would appear. Traditional accounts refer to John Riley as the first permanent settler of Holyoke, but while Riley owned 28 acres along "Riley's Brook" (Tannery Brook in modern-day Ingleside), his daughters Mary and Margaret, and their Irish Protestant husbands, Joseph Ely and William MacCranny, first resided there beginning in 1667. By the time West Springfield was partitioned in 1707, a number of Irish families had moved to the Parish. With the emergence of Holyoke's industrial base, a new wave of Irish Catholic immigration occurred and by 1855 a third of residents were of Irish heritage. Holyoke's Irish roots are celebrated today in its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

In the 1850s, mill owners began to recruit French-Canadians, regarded as docile and less likely to create labor unions due to their agrarian backgrounds and anti-unionism promoted by Québecois clergy at that time. Many Québecois workers were first recruited by Nicholas Proulx (anglicized as Prew) who hailed from Saint-Ours, Quebec and arrived in Holyoke in 1856. He and his sons would import a number of line workers for Lyman Mills, including his son John J. Prew, who founded Springdale and became the first French member of the city council, then the board of aldermen. By 1900, 1 in 3 residents were French or French Canadian descent, and when the city reached its peak population of 62,300 in 1913, this number had become 1 in 4, while the city contained the 7th largest French or French Canadian immigrant population in the country, exceeding Chicago's at that time. By 1980, reflecting economic and cultural changes, this population comprised 10% of the population, a similar figure to those who identified as French or French Canadian in the 2010 census.

The Holyoke Turner Hall (2018), a vestige of the former Germania Mills einwandererkolonie (lit. immigrant colony); the former Germania Park with worker housing and Lutheran Church (1941), now Bonin Field

Beginning at the end of World War II, an influx of Puerto Ricans and other Latino groups began to migrate to the Northeast United States, driven largely by the Farm Labor Program initiated by the US Department of Labor. Not unlike the Bracero program, in the following decades the agency recruited Puerto Rican laborers to work on agricultural land in the continental United States; in the case of Holyoke, many worked on valley tobacco farms, and arrived in the city in search of better job opportunities at the mills as previous generations had. The first permanent Puerto Rican resident was said to have been Domingo Perez; a landlord who later became among the first to be appointed in city government, he was reported to have arrived in Holyoke around 1955. By 1970 the number of Puerto Rican residents numbered around 5,000, however by that time, many faced a city economy in free fall. Holyoke's mills had closed due to the changing economic landscape of early globalization and deindustrialization; from 1955 to 1970, 1 for every 2 industrial jobs vanished. Despite economic and social difficulties the population grew significantly during the 1980s, and from 1990 to 2016, the buying power of the Latino community at-large increased by nearly 300%. Today Latinos form the city's largest minority group, with the largest Puerto Rican population per capita of any American city outside Puerto Rico proper, at 44.7%. 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.


Mater Dolorosa Parish, Holyoke MA
Mater Dolorosa Parish

Holyoke is home to houses of worship for numerous 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.

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. In 2011, two Catholic parishes, Holy Cross and Mater Dolorosa were merged into Our Lady of the Cross Parish. A number of other Catholic parishes, including Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Jerome's, Blessed Sacrament and Immaculate Conception Parish also reside in the city.

In addition to its parishes, the city has a number of convents of sisters including the Sisters of Providence of Holyoke in Ingleside, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield who maintain 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 the First Congregational Church of Holyoke, founded in 1850, the First Lutheran Church of Holyoke, founded in 1867, and the United Methodist Church of Holyoke, South Hadley, and Granby, which meets in South Hadley, which was founded in 1810.

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

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 Conservative congregation, and Congregation Rodphey Sholom, practicing Orthodoxy. Both congregations originated in the 19th century, with Rodphey Sholom 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 hold joint services during certain holidays.

Arts and culture

Immigration and migration

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's 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. Later waves of immigration led to significant growth and cultural influence of communities of Germans, Poles, and Jews over first half of the 20th century. Starting in the 1950s, a large influx of Puerto Ricans and people from other Latino groups began to immigrate and migrate to Holyoke. 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%. 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.

Saint Patrick's Day Parade

Holyoke is home to the second-largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the United States, surpassed only by the New York City parade. 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, although in certain years in the 1960s and 1970s when the March weather was "perfect", that number blossomed to what the police department estimated were 1,000,000 celebrants.

Puerto Rican Day Parade

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

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.

Points of interest

Holyoke City Hall 5
Holyoke City Hall, Holyoke, M.A.



Emergency room, Holyoke Medical Center
Emergency department of Holyoke Medical Center

The Holyoke Medical Center offers comprehensive health services, was named a top hospital by The Leapfrog Group in 2016, and in 2018 received multiple awards for its stroke care from the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the American Heart Association. The city's Providence Behavioral Health Hospital offers a number of programs for psychiatric health as well, with an emphasis on new substance misuse treatment programs. It has been affiliated with the Sisters of Providence of Holyoke, who have operated medical facilities in the city since they first received their charter in 1892.

The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke is one of two state-operated veterans healthcare facilities in the Commonwealth, offering longterm residential care as well as outpatient services to Massachusetts veterans. In 2018, the facility received high marks from the Department of Veterans Affairs, showing improved safety measures for elderly residents and no deficiencies in provided care.

Telecom and public fiber

Since September 1997, the city's municipal utility, Holyoke Gas & Electric, has provided fiber optic high-speed internet service to municipal agencies, as well as commercial and industrial businesses. This network would also play a decisive role in the location of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in the city, due to its 1gbps service offered to commercial customers, and a dedicated link exceeding 10gbps for the facility's educational affiliates, on specialized networks such as Internet2.

The municipal fiber line network has also served as an internet service provider to other area towns, including commercial customers in Chicopee, Metro Center Springfield, and Greenfield (until 2017), as well as network operator to residential customers in Leverett. With renewed public interest in net neutrality, civic groups have rallied for the city to offer a limited or complete rollout of this fiber-to-the-home service in Holyoke and Chicopee, however despite orders by the council to further explore this measure, no immediate plan for residential service has been given by the municipal utility as of 2018. On November 6, 2019, city voters passed a nonbinding question calling for a feasibility study and cost estimate of a gradual rollout of residential service.


Holyoke Transportation Center
The Holyoke Transportation Center, serving riders of the PVTA and Peter Pan Buslines


Interstate highways serving Greater Holyoke include:

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

U.S. Highways serving Greater Holyoke include:

Massachusetts highways in the area include:

  • Route 116 – A minor freeway bypassing downtown Holyoke, connecting Chicopee to South Hadley via the Willimansett Bridge and the Vietnam Memorial Bridge.
  • Route 141 – A minor freeway connecting Easthampton over Mount Tom, through downtown via Appleton Street and Main Street in South Holyoke to Chicopee via I-391.

Bus and rail

Amtrak Shuttle 463 Eng 18
A two-car train for the New Haven–Springfield Shuttle, which will begin commuter rail service to Holyoke in a pilot program starting Spring 2019

Several buses from the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority operate in the city including the Paper City Express with a route across town as well as routes to South Hadley, Westfield, Northampton, Amherst, and Springfield, connecting with Peter Pan Buslines at the Holyoke Transportation Center.

Passenger rail service returned to Holyoke in August 2015, after being absent since 1967. Amtrak's Vermonter stops at the Holyoke station once a day in each direction, and a New Haven–Springfield Shuttle pilot program will commence in Spring 2019 linking Holyoke to adjacent stations in Northampton and Springfield, as far north as Greenfield and south as New Haven, Connecticut, with two trains operating in the morning and the evening. The planned route will link provide service to commuters working in as far north as Greenfield and as far south as New Haven, Connecticut, with connections to New York City. The evaluation period of this pilot service will tentatively end in 2021 based on the results of the program.

Freight rail service is provided to the city's industrial and warehouse railways in Springdale, South Holyoke, and The Flats by the Pioneer Valley Railroad, with connections to Pan Am Southern to Springfield and Greenfield, and a line to Westfield with connections to Southampton and the CSX system. The PVRR also provides annual fall foliage passenger rides from the Holyoke Heritage State Park to Westfield, and an annual Santa Train at the park.

Cycling and walking

Taken in its entirety, Holyoke has a moderate Walk Score of 55, though walkability is highly variable between neighborhoods. For example, whereas the rural neighborhood of Rock Valley is entirely car-dependent with a score of 3, the downtown area, with its grid central to stores, residences, and businesses, yields a Walk Score of 84.

In an effort to make the mixed industrial and residential area around the canals more accessible, the city has in recent years constructed the eponymous Canalwalk, a series of walkways linking the downtown to The Flats and South Holyoke.

Sister cities


From top to bottom: A sample of "Skinner's Satins" silk in the Smithsonian, 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. While writing paper production has left the city, Holyoke is still home to a number of specialty paper manufacturers and converters, 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. Some former mills have in the past been used as incubators for new manufacturing businesses as well; from 1973 until 1983, when it relocated to a newly constructed factory in Deerfield, Yankee Candle's first factory was located in one such building in the canal district.

Today the City of Holyoke has one of three foreign-trade zones in the Commonwealth, the other two being the Port of New Bedford and the Massachusetts Port Authority of Boston. Though the number of service-based jobs overtook Holyoke manufacturing jobs in 1972, the city is still home to an 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 manufactured a number of different products. At one time the company produced the "Holyoke Hercules" model of water turbine which served the city's industries on the canal system, and previously their shops cast bronze doors for the U.S. Capitol Building. Today the city is still home to a number of firms specializing in such equipment as medical devices, industrial vacuums, solid waste containers, plastics and rubber manufacturing, bookbinding agents and archival supplies.

In recent years the city has also seen a handful of food manufacturing firms, due to its proximity to large metropolitan areas like New York City and Boston. In 1996 the Paper City Brewing Company opened out of one of the former Farr Alpaca Company's facilities, following a period of financial difficulties in 2017, the brewery closed temporarily, with plans in place to reopen in the future. Another notable firm, Dan's Power Plant, produces nut-based cheese substitutes known as "Fauxmaggio", as a vegan alternative, selling many of their products in upscale markets in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

MGHPCC Holyoke
Main campus of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, the newest building constructed to draw power from the Holyoke Canal System


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. Partners in this project 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 as well as the city's extensive fiber network. In 2015, the editors of Popular Mechanics ranked Holyoke as 6th on a list of 14 cities they considered to be best for startups in the United States, citing these factors. ISO New England, one of the United States' eight electricity regional transmission organizations, is based in Holyoke, utilizing the city's central location for easy access to metropolitan areas in New England and New York.


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

The city also features the corporate headquarters of PeoplesBank, the largest bank in Western Massachusetts, as well as the local Holyoke Credit Union which was originally started as a credit union for the students of a former parochial school.

Urban agriculture

Freight Farms project, Holyoke, Massachusetts
Converted shipping containers used for training in hydroponic agriculture, a collaborative project between Holyoke Community College, Nuestras Raices, and MassDevelopment.

Despite a reputation as an industrial city, agriculture has played a continuing role in the Holyoke's livelihood throughout its history. On July 24, 1917, it became the first city in Western Massachusetts to open a modern farmers market, a novelty at the time, bringing producers directly to consumers. The current farmers market, which began in 1979, is regularly held outside city hall on Thursdays from 10 to 2 from May to October. As late as the 1950s, the city maintained a poor farm while, in contrast, during the late 19th century a number of wealthy manufacturers raised thoroughbred Jersey cattle. This trend began in 1881, when the city went from a population of zero to fifty head of registered Jerseys, the largest herd in the Connecticut Valley being that of William Whiting. This prize-winning herd, then 75 head, was lost however to an incendiary fire that destroyed Whiting Farm's stock barn in 1919. Conventional dairy and cattle farming remained extant through most of the 20th century, with the last conventional livestock farm closing in 1982.

Nevertheless smaller market agriculture operations, which began in the 20th century, endure today. Among Holyoke's most notable contemporary agricultural organizations is Nuestras Raices. Established in 1992 by members of the La Finquita community garden of South Holyoke, the nonprofit organization has worked with state and federal agencies to help new farmers build skills and expertise, particularly in the Puerto Rican community, through microloans, direct marketing, and land leasing.

Holyoke also has a prominent example of ecosystem garden permaculture—the Holyoke Edible Food Forest Garden, established in 2004 by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates. In the following decade the two designed and developed their tenth of an acre backyard into a year-round food producing garden, with over 100 perennial plant species which sustain limited wildlife populations, and have remediated soil on the site. Their permaculture garden has been featured in the New York Times, as well as lectures at Harvard and Yale University. A detailed account of the design and management of this space and the principles behind it can be found in the book by the two, "Paradise Lot", released in 2013 by Chelsea Green Publishing.


Holyoke Centennial Obverse
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

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. Today the Volleyball Hall of Fame resides 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—, of Belfeld, and of Enter.


Blue Sox Swamp Bats from Grandstand2
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.

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. 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. 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.

While unsuccessful attempts were made to attract a new team in the years that followed, 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.


Left to right: Sixto Escobar, whose mainland debut was at Holyoke's Valley Arena, May 7, 1934; Mike Tyson's amateur career included the city's 1983 Golden Gloves title

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. 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. 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 title. 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, and is held in Springfield today. Though other materials would be used following their bankruptcy, in the early 20th century Skinner's Silk manufactured the satins for Everlast's iconic boxing trunks.


D Ross
Donald Ross, famed golf course architect who lived in Holyoke for several years, initially with financial backing of local businessman J. L. Wyckoff

Holyoke has two private golf courses in Smith's Ferry, on opposite sides of Mount Tom, the 9-hole Holyoke Country Club and the 18-hole Wyckoff Country Club, the latter of which was originally designed by noted golf course architect Donald Ross. With the construction of Interstate 91 in the 1960s, the course required a redesign. From 1966 to 1967 much of the landscape was reshaped by golf architect Al Zikorus; today five holes and seven greens remain of Ross's original designs.

The Wyckoff course opened in 1899 as the Mount Tom Golf Club, and was described as rocky and unrefined in its early years. In 1910, Joseph L. Wyckoff, partner of stationery maker White & Wyckoff, and the club's eventual namesake, was playing a round with then-president of the Boston Athletic Association Edward E. Babb. Wyckoff remarked the course at the time was "an apology for a [golf] course" and that he wished to find a man who "really knew about the laying out a golf course". Babb, a member of Oakley Country Club, said he knew such a person, introducing Wyckoff to Ross later that year. Wyckoff brought Ross back to the course, where he suggested key changes, but was unable to prepare plans as he had just signed a two-year contract as professional for the Essex Golf & Country Club. Upon completion of this contract he returned to Holyoke in 1914 where he was put up in a house built for him by Wyckoff, who was a member of the executive committee of the Massachusetts Golf Association, and saw himself as a patron of Ross, offering him financial backing to pursue a broader career in golf course architecture. It is unknown what duration Ross lived in the city as he had summer homes and travelled often, though a Boston Herald article places him there in 1919. He would work with the club for many years, completing a full redesign of the course by 1922, which remained unchanged until the construction of I-91 in 1965.


The city's educational needs are served by Holyoke Public Schools, including Holyoke High School, and a number of private institutions. The school system is currently in receivership and managed by Dr. Stephen Zrike, a receiver appointed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; as superintendent, the receiver presides over school curriculum and practices. The city's private schools include First Lutheran School and Mater Dolorosa Catholic School.

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, and has the highest percentage of student graduates completing associate degrees and certificate programs among the state's community colleges. 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.

In 2016, Bard College established the first of its microcolleges in Holyoke, its other being based out of Brooklyn. Bard Microcollege Holyoke operates in partnership with local nonprofit The Care Center, which provides educational and career opportunities to pregnant and parenting teens. Associates of Arts degrees are granted to a small class of young mothers who have completed The Care Center's own educational programs in addition to those by Bard.


The front facade Holyoke Public Library completed in 1902, as seen from Maple Street, and the 2013 expansion

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. The library established in 1870 was originally a room in the old Appleton Street School, and by 1876 moved to a central room on the main floor of City Hall. It remained there until its collections had outgrown this space and a modern facility was required. 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 who designed the building, gave his services gratis because his daughter was a faithful patron of the library. It opened officially in 1902.

At the dedication ceremony William Whiting, 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."

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