In 2011, visitors to Springfield, Massachusetts, will find many family-friendly activities, including two professional sports teams, the Basketball Hall of Fame  - basketball was invented in Springfield in 1891 - a 5-museum campus ( The Quadrangle ) that would be the envy of cities much larger in area and population (Springfield is only 32 sq. miles, with155,000 residents.) It features sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens's most famous outdoor work, "The Puritan," along State Street, and mere feet from it, along Chestnut Street, is the National Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden, (Dr. Seuss is one of Springfield's most beloved native sons.)

In 2011, Springfield experienced its most tragic year to date in terms of natural disasters: from a freak, once-in-a-century tornado that left a 39-mile swath of devastation from Westfield, through downtown Springfield, all the way to Charlemont in Worcester County, leaving 3 residents dead; to surprisingly strong residuals from a southern earthquake; to - shortly after that - Hurricane Irene, which caused damage to the city and Valley; and to top off that, on October 27, Springfield experienced its largest October snowfall on record, while most trees still had leaves, leaving 1 resident dead, and causing $ millions more in property damage

The good news is that all of the fun reasons why you would visit Springfield remain - albeit with trees and structures worse for the wear and tear. The  Basketball Hall of Fame still graces Springfield's riverfront in an iconic building; the Springfield Armory National Park and National Historic Site was left untouched, as it has been since Shays's Rebellion in 1787; Frederick Law Olmsted's 745-acre, "Central Park"-like Forest Park lost several grand, old trees, but thousands remain.

Visitors to the city can walk in the steps of cultural icons like John Brown, Dr. Seuss, Johnny Appleseed, James Whistler, Charles Goodyear, (who invented vulcanized rubber in Springfield;) Milton Bradley; Daniel Shays, James Naismith, Timothy Leary, Taj Mahal, and U.S. Commander Creighton Abrams. 

At the new Museum of Springfield History, you'll learn that Springfield was where the first American dictionary was published (1806, Merriam-Webster;) where Charles Goodyear invented and patented vulcanized rubber  (1844;) where the Duryea Brothers produced the first American, gasoline-powered car, (1893,) which beat out all of the European models in the world's first roadrace (1895;) where Indian Motorcycle produced America's first successful motorcylce (1901;) and Knox Auto produced the first modern fire engine (1905.)

These are just a few reasons why Springfield is the "City of Firsts." 

Interested in American History or the U.S. Military? Check out the Springfield Armory National Park and National Historic Site. Founded by George Washington and Henry Knox in 1777, the Springfield Armory produced innovation after innovation until it was controversially closed during the Vietnam War in 1968. Now it features a museum with the largest collection of historic firearms in the world.

Whether you're planning a visit to the Big E - the collective state fair of the 6 New England states - or Six Flags New England , home of the #1 steel roller-coaster in the world, "Bizarro;" attending one of Springfield's numerous city festivals, or attending the nightly festival of Springfield's (now very) eclectic Club Quarter; visiting one of Springfield's 6 colleges and universities or using Springfield as a jumping off point to visit the picturesque college towns of the Pioneer Valley, or the resort towns nestled in between rolling, purple hills of the Berkshires - you've come to the right place: Springfield, Massachusetts.