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The City of Springfield is a major urban industrial center of metropolitan status at the junction of regional routes between Boston and New York. The city lies in the Connecticut River Valley, and was originally settled as a private plantation of the Massachusetts Bay colony by William Pynchon in 1636. Commercial trade was the main business of the city from its earliest history, beginning with Pynchon's fur trading with the Indians. Trading led to warehousing and increasing population spurred the establishment of a saw mill. A painful setback in development occurred in 1675, when raids during King Philip's war destroyed 45 of the 60 houses in the settlement, but the community recovered and the building of the county courthouse in 1723 and the U.S. Armory in 1794 boosted development. By 1820, Springfield's population of 3,914 made it the largest community in western Massachusetts. There were mills and cotton duck factories in town, but for 174 years, the armory remained the U.S. Army's primary design and production facility for small arms. This attracted skilled workers, among them inventor Thomas Blanchard who produced a steam motor carriage in 1826 and a steamboat on the river in 1828. David Ames established a paper mill and invented a cylinder paper machine in 1822, becoming the largest producer in the state. The railroad arrived in the 1830's and the city became after 1859, the hub of rail lines. Iron works in Springfield built bridges, trusses, locomotives and railroad coaches. The Civil War brought "intense and concentrated prosperity" to the city, according to historians. The city produced ammunition, uniforms and swords and employment at the armory leaped from 200 to 2600 when the army's other armory at Harper's Ferry was lost to the South. After the war, when many communities lost their industrial capacity, Springfield shifted to producing luxury and consumer goods such as parlor games, gold chains, ice skates and photo albums. Immigrants in the city came from Ireland, French Canada and Italy to work in diversified production of everything from lawnmowers to beer. The auto industry began in Springfield when Charles and Frank Duryea built the first American car in 1893 and won the first auto race in the country in 1895. The motorcycle industry also began in Springfield in 1902. In 1900 there were over 500 plants in the city, 10% of all such facilities in the entire state. By the middle of the 20th century such companies as Westinghouse and Rolls Royce were located in Springfield, which remains in modern times a business and commercial hub of the area.
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