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Old 10-01-2018, 03:14 PM
 
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I just happened to see the following picture taken in Holyoke in a thread here on city-data. I know the rust-belt has lots of closed down factories and abandoned buildings but this picture makes Detroit look like Disneyland. Although I greatly admire the post apocalyptic vibe myself, the question arises what happened to Holyoke that caused buildings to look like this.



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Old 10-01-2018, 05:19 PM
 
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With a little searching, it seems that is Parsons Paper Mill which suffered a fire in 2008. I'm guessing that photo is from the aftermath.

That property is currently under redevelopment by the city and Aegis Energy Corp for a new facility.
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Old 10-02-2018, 05:52 AM
 
Location: RI, MA, VT, WI, IL, CA, IN (that one sucked), KY
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That fire was crazy huge.
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Old 10-02-2018, 07:59 AM
 
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I'll admit the center of the city does look rough but they have been doing work here and there. First the green computing center opened up. It didn't create a whole ton of jobs but it's a permanent light bulb. Gateway City arts opened (all private funding) and it's fantastic. Then there's also Cubit which is funded from MGM funds that trains people for culinary.

https://www.mghpcc.org/

https://www.gatewaycityarts.com/

Make no mistake the area is still poor but you can still do things. Look up Northampton Street. The other odd thing is for some reason they have pride in the old fire pull alarms. They treat them like Fabergé eggs.

The state is paying for more rail service starting next year which will go north to greeenfield and northampton and link south to springfield which pretty much takes you to hartford, new haven and even NYC. Much of the art scene of Northahmpton was priced out and left to Holyoke.
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Old 10-02-2018, 08:54 AM
 
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Holyoke is as good a place as any to observe the creative destruction of capitalism. The city was built in a hurry, burgeoning brick mills along three levels of canals powered by the water power at Hadley Falls. Rows of brick tenements rose along the ‘flats’ by the river, solid business blocks along Main, High and Maple Streets, apartment houses along the tree streets—Maple, Pine, Walnut, Elm, Locust, etc., and elaborate wood-frame houses including Wistariahurst, the mansion of the silk tycoon Joseph A. Skinner. There were Catholic churches in a multitude of styles for every social class and cultural group, each with parish school, and the big, grim Holyoke Catholic high school brooding over tiny Veterans Park. The Protestant elite had their churches too, notably Second Congregational at Maple and Appleton, a choice location close to the homes of its wealthy members. The urban development extended uphill to Northampton Street where some sense of the wealth created in Holyoke remains. But as Marx and Engels famously wrote, all that is solid melts into air. The prosperity of that wave of urban industrialism eroded after the 1920s, gradually at first, later in a holocaust of arson fires, business failures and white flight. Now Holyoke, like upstream industrial cities all over the northeastern and midwestern states, struggles with the enigma of the solidity of the urban fabric left over from another time and the long vanished prosperity that built and powered that fabric.
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Old 10-02-2018, 11:06 AM
 
Location: stuck in the woods with bears and moose
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What I first saw the title of this thread, I thought, "Has something GOOD happened to Holyoke?" I remember driving along rte 91 in the late 1970s and seeing the city on fire at night. Many times. People said it was the greedy landlords burning their buildings for the insurance money.

No one went there when I was a kid and I've only known one person in my life who came from Holyoke. It's been gone for a long time. To its credit, I think they do have the old merry-go-round from Mountain Park, restored and working for visitors to ride.
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Old 10-02-2018, 01:58 PM
 
Location: Springfield and brookline MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by in_newengland View Post
What I first saw the title of this thread, I thought, "Has something GOOD happened to Holyoke?" I remember driving along rte 91 in the late 1970s and seeing the city on fire at night. Many times. People said it was the greedy landlords burning their buildings for the insurance money.

No one went there when I was a kid and I've only known one person in my life who came from Holyoke. It's been gone for a long time. To its credit, I think they do have the old merry-go-round from Mountain Park, restored and working for visitors to ride.
You must be a joy to be around, every thing and everywhere to you is a bleak nihilistic hell hole. Or you were and still are absolutely sheltered.

Holyoke is a gritty blue collar type of city. It has it’s urban blight and seedy sections and also has leafy suburban neighborhoods. It has Mt Tom recreational area with it’s summer concert series. The areas largest indoor Mall. Easy access to Hamp and Springfield as well as 91 and 90. It has a sizable Latino community and is home to the Famous St Patrick’s day parade. I wouldn’t call Holyoke up and coming, but it’s more of on a flat trajectory as of late.

I do know that it was one of the first planned cities to be laid out in a grid pattern. Which is completely unique to most of the surrounding area cities and towns.
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Old 10-02-2018, 03:42 PM
 
Location: stuck in the woods with bears and moose
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Quote:
Originally Posted by western mass and love it View Post
You must be a joy to be around, every thing and everywhere to you is a bleak nihilistic hell hole. Or you were and still are absolutely sheltered.

Holyoke is a gritty blue collar type of city. It has it’s urban blight and seedy sections and also has leafy suburban neighborhoods. It has Mt Tom recreational area with it’s summer concert series. The areas largest indoor Mall. Easy access to Hamp and Springfield as well as 91 and 90. It has a sizable Latino community and is home to the Famous St Patrick’s day parade. I wouldn’t call Holyoke up and coming, but it’s more of on a flat trajectory as of late.

I do know that it was one of the first planned cities to be laid out in a grid pattern. Which is completely unique to most of the surrounding area cities and towns.
I do remember when Springfield used to be nice. I hope the MGM casino will make it nice again in some kind of way.

Holyoke has never been nice in my lifetime--and that's a shame because at one time it must have been a thriving city. To me, the eastern MA equivalent is Lawrence, another sad, rundown former mill city. Both were cities where new immigrants could get a start and earn at least a meager living. Both were largely abandoned when the mills shut down.

Springfield is starting to attract people and that's good because it's been a long time since most ordinary people had much reason to go to downtown Springfield. In fact, most people consciously avoided going there due to the crime and urban blight. The south end looked abandoned.

Maybe Holyoke will be re-invented someday too, maybe it's coming up in the world. But when I lived in the Pioneer Valley, Holyoke was a place where you did not go. Just like downtown Springfield, people didn't feel safe there and would stay away if they could. The OP asked what happened. Missionhill wrote a great post in reply.
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Old 10-02-2018, 06:13 PM
 
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We decided to use Holyoke Hospital when my wife was pregnant, and we had a wonderful experience there, and that's where my son was born. I'm with mdovell, above -- the glass is half full and filling up slowly.
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Old 10-03-2018, 12:52 PM
 
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So it was actually a fire that caused the decay of this particular paper mill rather than the slow process of natural urban decay like in other parts of the rust-belt. I would assume a paper mill burns well. Holyoke overall looks gritty and has an industrial vibe. Paper mills seem to be the most common factories. Still, the town doesn't seem all that bad to me at all when streetviewing it: just a few boarded up homes and buildings here and there.
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