Explore Local History and Culture with a Downtown Springfield Walking Tour!

Explore Local History and Culture with a Downtown Springfield Walking Tour!

Joining the host of local communities offering educational opportunities through walking tours, Springfield’s downtown has been given new life and new educational possibilities through a walking tour. Provided by the Springfield Central Cultural District, the tour spotlights over 200 years of the city’s history, and includes entry points for learning about everything from art and architecture to local government and the first gas-powered automobile.

Just in time for a season’s worth of great walking weather, the Springfield Central Cultural District presents a walking tour of downtown Springfield! By following the new walking tour, families can explore Springfield’s past and present, visiting landmarks whose significance remains relevant today but stretches back as far as the 1700’s. Through observational visits to parks, government buildings, businesses, and museums, families can explore local and national history, government, the evolution of local businesses, and all kinds of art, including sculpture, painted murals, and stained glass.

The walking tour is unlike most others in that while it includes a numbered list of locations, the tour does need to be followed according to the assigned numbers. The detailed map provided by the Springfield Central Cultural District features 25 notable locations which, thanks to their urban location, are all in very close proximity to one another and can be easily reached through many different routes. Families can explore all 25 of the central district’s significant landmarks, or easily navigate through the places and spaces that most interest them. 

Highlights of the walking tour include the Springfield Museums, home to four museums and a sculpture garden; Tower Square Mall, which houses three art galleries, as well as the Pan African Historical Museum USA; and the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, established by George Washington in 1794 as the first American armory. Alongside these high-profile locations are lesser-known local treasures like the Classical Condominiums, an arts and housing complex created within the building designed to house Springfield’s former Classical High School, and the Springfield Federal Courthouse which, though not necessarily a landmark worthy of family interest on its own, showcases one of legendary muralist Sol Lewitt’s final creations. Other low-profile gems include the Hispanic Baptist Church, built in 1872 and home to a Tiffany stained glass window; Mattoon Street, home to one of the last remaining strips of Victorian row houses in western Massachusetts; and Duryea way, where a copy of a Duryea car marks the location where the first gas powered automobile was created in 1893.

In addition to the wealth of local treasures marked on the Springfield Central Cultural District’s walking tour map, families can find parks and green spaces clearly marked, blending the urban landscape with local natural treasures (like Riverfront Park, located on the banks of the Connecticut River – designated an American Heritage River). The map can be accessed via mobile devices during exploration, or downloaded and printed beforehand.

After exploring Springfield, take a walk through another community or two – there are over 25 local walking tours in cities and towns in western Massachusetts, all waiting to be explored!

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