Springfield is the largest city on the Connecticut River, New England's longest river, and the county seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2010 Census, the city's population was 153,060. The Springfield Metropolitan Area is one of the two metropolitan areas in Massachusetts – the other is Greater Boston. In 2009, Greater Springfield's population was estimated at 698,903. Historically the first Springfield in America, it is the largest city in Western Massachusetts and the urban, economic, and cultural capital of Massachusetts' Connecticut River Valley, (colloquially known as the Pioneer Valley). It is the third largest city in Massachusetts and fourth largest in New England (after Boston, Worcester and Providence). Springfield has several nicknames – The City of Firsts, because of its many innovations (see below for a partial list); The City of Homes, due to its attractive Victorian residential architecture; and Hoop City, because basketball – currently the world's 2nd most popular sport – was invented in Springfield.
Hartford, the State of Connecticut's capital city, lies only 23.9 miles (38.5 km) south of Springfield, on the western bank of the Connecticut River. Springfield and Hartford share Bradley International Airport, which lies equidistant between them. The Hartford-Springfield region is known as the Knowledge Corridor because it hosts over 160,000 university students and over 32 universities and liberal arts colleges. Springfield lies in the geographic center of the Knowledge Corridor, with more than 20 universities within a 15-mile (24 km) radius of its Metro Center. The City of Springfield itself is home to Springfield College; Western New England University; Tufts University School of Medicine; American International College; the University of Massachusetts Amherst's School of Urban Design; Cambridge College; and Springfield Technical Community College, among other higher educational institutions.
The City of Springfield has played an important role throughout American history – founded on New England's most fertile soil, next to one of America's most significant rivers, the Connecticut, Springfield is located midway between the major North American ports of New York City, Boston, Albany, and Montreal. In 1777, Springfield's prime location led George Washington and Henry Knox to found the fledgling United States' National Armory at Springfield, which produced the first American musket in 1794, and later the famous Springfield rifle. From 1777 until its controversial closing during the Vietnam War, the Springfield Armory attracted skilled laborers to Springfield, making it the United States' longtime epicenter for precision manufacturing. Springfielders produced many of America's most significant innovations, including the first American-English dictionary (1805, Merriam Webster); the first use of interchangeable parts and the assembly line in manufacturing, (1819, Thomas Blanchard;) the first American horseless car, (1825, Thomas Blanchard;) the discovery and patent of vulcanized rubber, (1844, Charles Goodyear;) the first American, gasoline-powered car, (1893, Duryea Brothers); the first successful motorcycle, (1901, "Indian"); America's first commercial radio station, (1921, WBZA from the Hotel Kimball); America's first UHF television station, (1953, WWLP); and most famously, the world's second most popular sport, basketball, (1891, Dr. James Naismith).