Events Continue to Celebrate Holyoke’s 150th Anniversary

Events Continue to Celebrate Holyoke’s 150th Anniversary.

Holyoke, MA. 

With longer days and nicer weather more and more organizations are planning events to celebrate the City of Holyoke’s 150th Birthday. Recently the dedication of City Hall was held. We are very thankful to those that attended, the many restaurant donors, and volunteers that contributed to its success!!. On the horizon in May, just to name a few, is

Around the corner in June we begin with 

  • Armour Yard Every Monday starting June 5th. Enjoy an evening of food, and craft brews from White Lion Brewing and Holyoke Craft Beer.
  • The International Volleyball Hall of Fame and the Holyoke Fire Department will host the eighth Battle of the Badges Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, June 3rd at the William J. Dean Gymnasium. Spectator admission is free and the round robin tournament starts at 9am with playoffs to follow at approximately 1pm.  
  • Second Annual Holyoke Pridefest: Saturday, June 17th  from Noon until 6 pm at Veterans Park. Grammy award winning singer Mary Lambert performing

To support these 150th milestone celebrations or to volunteer,  please visit: “Sponsor Holyoke’s 150th Birthday” for additional sponsorship information.


Fifteen thousand years ago, the current site of the City of Holyoke lay on the bottom of Lake Hitchcock. As the waters receded it left the Connecticut River (Quinnecticot River- “at the long river”), the original motor of economic progress in the region. The river was a major source of transportation for the first inhabitants, Native Americans – the Algonguins, including the Nipmucs, Pequots, and Mohegans. Others included the Agawams to the south, and the Nonotucks and Pocumtucs to the north. Eventually early European settlers obtained the land that would be incorporated into the future boundaries of Holyoke. 


In 1633, Captain Elizur Holyoke led an expedition up the Connecticut River from Springfield to explore the potential for settlement. Two years later, European agricultural settlement began in the region. Around 1665, John Riley, an Irishman, was one of the first to farm on the West side of the river. The area became known as Ireland Parish, a name that would be in common use until 1850.


In 1847, taking advantage of the broad plain and the 57-foot drop in the Connecticut River at South Hadley Falls, the Boston Associates began planning one of the commonwealth’s first planned industrial cities. Canals, mills, boarding houses, offices, and a dam were all built by pick and shovel. On November 6, 1848, the first of three dams were completed at the South Hadley Falls. Made of wood, it only lasted a few hours. A replacement dam, also of wood, was completed the following summer with the current dam being a modern stone dam, put into service in 1900. The rapid growth of this “New City” led to approval from the State Legislature for a separate municipality to be created. On March 4, 1850, Holyoke finally became its own town.


Holyoke’s development was rapid and just twenty-three years later on April 6, 1873, the city was incorporated as a municipality. Holyoke was recognized nationally as the “Queen of Industrial Cities” and as the “Paper City of the World.” Textiles were the first major product of the City, quickly followed by paper. Paper grew as the dominant force in the City, and at one time over twenty-five paper mills were in operation. The population followed, expanding from just 4,600 in 1885, to over 60,000 in 1920.


Today, Holyoke is a city that inspires with its constant growth and continued opportunities for all.