In the 2000 census, the city population was 154,082. It is the third largest city in Massachusetts and fourth largest in New England (behind Boston, Providence, and Worcester). According to a July 1, 2003 Census estimate, there were 154,157 people in the city. Springfield holds two nicknames — The City of Homes and The City of Firsts.
Historically the first Springfield in the United States, it is also the largest city with the name of Springfield. It is also the largest city on the Connecticut River and the largest city in Western Massachusetts and the Pioneer Valley including Western New England.
Springfield has a notable history as the home to Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, and as the birthplace of basketball, invented by James Naismith at Springfield College. It is home to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Springfield Falcons hockey team. It is also holds the western world's largest collection of Chinese cloisonné at the G.W. Vincent Smith Art Museum.
In an economic and cultural partnership with Hartford, Connecticut, the Springfield-Hartford region constitutes New England's Knowledge Corridor - the second-largest concentration of institutions of higher learning in New England.
As of the 2000 census, there were 152,082 people, 57,130 households, and 36,391 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,829.3/km² (4,737.7/mi²). There are nearly 2 million residents in the greater Springfield-Hartford metro region. In Springfield proper, there were 61,172 housing units at an average density of 735.8/km² (1,905.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 56.11% White, 1.92% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 21.01% African American, 0.37% Native American, 16.45% from other races, and 4.04% from two or more races. 27.18% of the population were Hispanic of any race.
There were 57,130 households out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.7% were married couples living together, 23.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 30.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the city the population was spread out with 28.9% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.7 years. For every 100 females there were 89 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,417, and the median income for a family was $36,285. Males had a median income of $32,396 versus $26,536 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,232. 19.3% of families and 23.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.3% of those under age 18 and 11.7% of those age 65 or over.
Springfield retains a strong middle class and high homeownership rates in many neighborhoods. These strong middle class neighborhoods, and the wide variety of architecture in the housing stock, have been highlighted in news accounts and on websites such as Choose Springfield.
Springfield is home to three 4-year colleges: Springfield College, Western New England College and American International College. On the grounds of the former Springfield Armory is Springfield Technical Community College. The greater Springfield area is home to nine (9) Colleges: Elms College, Westfield State College, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Bay Path College, Hampshire College, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Holyoke Community College.
For nearly six decades, Springfield has been slumping economically, due largely to a decline in manufacturing. Many major companies that maintained factories in the city closed their facilities, moving to the suburbs or out of New England all together. In 1968, the Springfield Armory was closed by the Pentagon. Another large manufacturer, American Bosch, shuttered its doors in 1986. In 2005, this exodus continued, with the closure of the Danaher Tool forge, maker of Craftsman tools. Many Springfield residents moved to the suburbs to escape inner-city crime and urban decay. Because manufacturing had been a large part of Springfield's economy, it proved difficult to fill the void with a service-based economy, more so than in similar cities with more diversified economies.
Local department stores, Forbes & Wallace and Steigers, shuttered in 1974 and 1994, respectively. Johnsons Bookstore closed a few years later, though this was due less to a decline in retail downtown than competition from chain bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble. Many banks headquartered in Springfield closed or merged with larger banks, (in fact, all but Hampden Bank, which remains the only Springfield-based bank.) A downtown revitalization project known as Baystate West, was completed in 1973, but over the years it too became empty. The construction contributed to Springfield's somewhat modern 1970s-era skyline. The Eastfield Mall, built on Springfield's outskirts in 1969, proved more successful. However, it suffered a decline after the Holyoke Mall was opened in the 1980s. Over the past five years, the mall has rebounded; consequently, Springfield's largest retail area is now on Boston Road, on the northeastern edge of the city, rather than downtown.