A trip to Springfield Massachusetts

It was a warm summer day when I hit the road from my home in Queens, New York, off to the birthplace of Basketball, Springfield Massassutes. I left early in the day around 8 A.M. and headed northwest towards the mecca of the game that is loved all over the world. Going to Springfield had been on my list of places to visit since late in 2020 since the drive was just a few hours away. After a few delays I was off and what I found was not what I expected.

The Drive

Normally to get to Connecticut and then into Massassutes, I would head north and cross over the Throgs Neck Bridge but on this Saturday like many days, roadwork was going to have me cross the East River at the Whitestone Bridge. Both bridges are near each other and both tend to be backed up with traffic when you need to cross the most. Now I am not gonna bore you with names of parkways and roads for those who do not live here, that would be pointless, but right from when I left, the roads were fuller than I expected so early in the day. The Belt Parkway wraps around most of the boroughs of Queens and especially Brooklyn. It is congested and backed up at all kinds of hours without any reason most of the time. I avoid trying to take it since going on it means taking a long way around. However, when traffic on another road, Van Wyck Expressway, got so bad I was left with no choice, and that one decision added a whole another hour to my trip. So now I had to go thru Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge and traffic, all of which you can see in my driving video above.

Once I was free of New York City, I went thru Westchester County and out of New York state. Next came Connecticut and the famed Merritt Parkway, with its beautiful lined twist and turns. By this point, I had left all the traffic behind and started to make up the time faster as blew thru the small state. It’s crazy after having lived in such a big state like Texas, where it took hours upon hours to leave the state. It was at least 8 plus hours from San Antonio to the edge of the state in any direction. And here I was across a state in less than two hours. In Hartford, I joined onto Interstate Highway 91 and after crossing the Connecticut River I made it into Springfield and the Bay State.

crossing into the bay state

Springfield, which sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River was founded in 1636. It is home to more than 150,000 people, making it the 4th largest city in the state. Originally it was known as Agawam Plantation but in 1641 it was renamed after the city of Springfield, Essex, in England. Many innovations came from the area, including the first dictionary (1805); the first American horseless car (1825); the first Goodyear rubber factory (1844): the birthplace of the Indian motorcycle company (1901); and of course the reason for my trip, basketball.

Basketball Hall of Fame

A statue of the inventor of the game, Dr. James Naismith.

It was a rainy December day in 1891 when a Canadian teacher at Springfield College came up with an indoor sport in hopes of keeping his students in shape in the cold winters of New England. After he nailed a peach basket to a wall and wrote a few simple rules, the sport of basketball was born. The first official game was played at a YMCA in Albany, New York on January 20, 1892, the score was 1-0.

The best player I have ever seen with my own eyes

The Hall of Fame was opened in 1959 and as of 2019, 401 individuals have been inducted. The original location was at Springfield College but moved in 1985 near its current location. In 2002 the current building was built only 100 yards away and now welcomes people from all over the world. I mostly enjoyed it and loved to see the jerseys of some of my favorite players. On display were also important basketballs and exhibits to important players and topics. If you are a basketball fan it is a must-see place but I was left a little disappointed overall. I just felt like it was more a museum than a hall of fame, as there are no busts or plaques to those who are in the hall of fame. It all just felt like nothing special, just a collection of items from all levels of the sport. An exhibit to player Kobe Bryant was hugely popular but one on the early days of college basketball was almost quickly overlooked by most. I’m glad that I went, but once I go to the baseball and football hall of fame, this will be the least favorite of the three.

Dr. Seuss

Springfield has been the birthplace and home to some well-known figures; Johnny Appleseed, Nina Blackwood, Milton Bradley, John Brown, Thornton Burgess, John Cena, Charles Goodyear, Timothy Leary, Kurt Russell, and of course Dr. Seuss

Born on March 2, 1904, he was born Theodor Seuss Geisel, he is best known as children author Dr. Seuss. Having written more than 60 books that have sold more than 600 million copies, he is one of the most famous writers of all time. Born and raised in Springfield, Seuss was very much a product of his time that slowly over his lifetime grew his own understanding and viewpoints of race and people. After World War 2 he moved to California but kept his ties to Springfield, where you can find his museum.

I’m not sure if I am the target audience for a place like this, a lot of it is hands-on aimed at children and since I am neither a child nor have one, I felt a little lost in the lure of the museum. Even with these feelings, I still enjoyed my time and learned a great deal about the man and his art.

I remember reading his books as a kid and they were the kind that you never forget. I read Green Eggs and Ham and then getting to make the dish in early elementary school. Many of the styles that make Green Eggs so memorable make the museum such a delight for the eyes. The colors pop and stories that we fell in love with all are there to see come to life.

Just outside the museum, you will find a sculpture garden with artwork of Dr. Seuss himself and some of his most famous creations. The museum and the garden are a part of the Quadrangle of Springfield, a collection of museums around a central park. And since I can not pass up a museum, off I went to add some more culture to my life

Springfield museums

The last visit of the day was to the collection of museums that you can find in the Quadrangle. I was only able to visit three of the museums but there is a lot to see to fill up a whole day. The first stop was the Smith Art Museum, which is housed in a building that dates back to 1895. There you can find artwork from Egypt, China, Rome, and Greece. Next was the D’Amour Fine Arts building. Housing many great works of art, it is a rare find in a city its size and I might argue that It might have works of art more impressive than that of a museum twice its size. The last stop was the Springfield Science Museum, which while small, did have a huge lifesized tyrannosaurus Rex model.

All three museums give you plenty to look at and have enough unique works that your time is spent really enjoying everything around you. After about 4 hours of looking around the small sampling of the city, I knew a long drive was ahead for me so I ate and left. There is a lot more to see in Springfield so I see another trip in my future.

The Return Home

The return trip was longer as I said before even without a drive into Manhatten. Some traffic was found but overall it was just the lower speeds as people moved around the area. So many cars from people going north and people going south like me. It was on a day like this when those easy driving days during the early days of Covid really come back to my mind. Springfield is not too far from many points in the greater New York area and is a great way to spend a weekend.

The greatest artwork ever!

What’s next? Next was a return trip to Washington DC and after that, I think I see another New England state in my future, Rhode Island.

All photos are by me unless noted. This trip was on July 10, 2021. If you enjoyed this please like and follow for more stories.

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