The 5th Hampden District comprises the City of Holyoke

The City of Holyoke is one of the first planned industrial cities in the world. A 57-foot drop in the Connecticut River proved to be an ideal location for capturing the power of the River when investors dammed the River in mid 1800s. The power from this dam fed reliable and inexpensive power through a network of canals to immense complexes of mill buildings.

The resulting combination of inexpensive power, reliable transportation and a steady influx of workers allowed Holyoke to become the global center of paper production. For more than a century, the City’s economic center was tightly linked with the Connecticut River, as can be observed in the City’s historical manufacturing core. The Connecticut River and Mount Tom/East Mountain range frame Holyoke, which can be found midway between the Vermont and Connecticut state borders.

The City is the third largest community in the Greater Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area, after Springfield itself and Chicopee. Holyoke is on the west bank of the Connecticut River, with South Hadley and Chicopee across the river to the east and Easthampton, Southampton, and Westfield on the City’s western boundary, and West Springfield on the City’s southern border. With its topographically and naturally defined borders, Holyoke exists as geographically distinct community. Holyoke is a densely populated city of 22.44 square miles (14,367 acres).

Most of its 39,880 residents live east of Mount Tom, in the historical urban, industrial, and commercial portion of the City. In contrast to the urban core, West Holyoke, located on the west side of East Mountain, is a small, mostly rural/ agricultural section of the City. In addition to its considerable Connecticut River frontage and the dam, Holyoke has two other major regional environmental resources: Mount Tom and the Barnes Aquifer. Mount Tom and its southerly extension, East Mountain, create the western half of the striking mountain range that bisects Massachusetts’ Connecticut River Valley; the Holyoke Range is their eastern side counterpart.

Today, Holyoke strongly reflects its industrial and cultural history, with many of the mills and associated housing still standing in and near the downtown. The City still follows, in large part, the original plan proposed by the developers of the City. More recent development has filled in much of the area between the downtown and the mountains, leaving the City with a dense urban Core and a less densely developed mountain range and western half of the City.

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The Fifth Hampden

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Greening the Gateway Cities Planting Season in Holyoke
Free Tree Planting Program Directly Benefits Residents and Business Owners

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today encouraged residents and business owners within the City of Holyoke’s planting zone to participate in the Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP) during the upcoming spring planting season, which will commence on April 16, 2019 through June28, 2019 (the fall planting season will be from September 2, 2019 through November 16, 2019). As a participant, trees are provided free of charge and are planted by Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) work crews in an effort to reduce energy use in urban neighborhoods by lowering heating and cooling costs.

“By increasing the tree canopy within urban communities, the Baker-Polito Administration is able to improve air quality, reduce energy consumption, and further beautify neighborhoods,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “The Department of Conservation and Recreation is pleased to have strong local partners who have worked closely with the agency to implement successful initiatives like the Greening the Gateway Cities Program.”

The Greening the Gateway Cities Program aims to plant 812 more trees in the City of Holyoke in addition to the 1,588 trees that have already been planted within the community. Since 2014, more than 19,000 trees have been planted by the GGCP in several Gateway Cities throughout the Commonwealth. The program specifically targets areas with a lower tree canopy, older housing stock, higher wind speeds, and larger renter populations. In addition, plantings are concentrated in Environmental Justice neighborhoods to benefit those most in need. Within planting areas, temperature, energy use, and other information is tracked to document the energy savings new trees provide to residents over time. Pilot cities in which this monitoring is taking place include Chelsea, Fall River, and Holyoke.

Trees in close proximity to a home shade structures and lower surface temperatures. Trees up to 1,500 feet away from a home also provide important benefits to the community, such as clean air, increase in property values, reduction in noise pollution, and the creation of habitats for wildlife. Additionally, in the winter months, tree trunks and branches help to randomize wind patterns and decrease heat loss by air infiltration in poorly insulated homes. Furthermore, GGCP tree plantings benefit the local economy through the purchasing of trees at local nurseries and employing local planting crews.

To be eligible, residents and property owners must agree to a two-year watering commitment to ensure the trees’ survival. Easy care instructions are provided by DCR to tree recipients addressing watering, mulching and pruning. When a potential tree recipient registers, a DCR forester will visit their home to determine the best location and species of tree for energy efficiency. Foresters also conduct year-round site visits and are available to answer questions. To find out if you are in the planting zone and order a free tree, property owners and residents should call 617-626-1473 or visit For more information, please visit the program’s webpage.

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