The second-largest city in western Massachusetts, Chicopee is known as the crossroads of New England. The nickname came from its location at the confluence of the Chicopee and Connecticut Rivers, which gave the city an edge in terms of power and transportation opportunities during the Industrial Revolution. The fact that Interstate Routes 90 and 91 both run through the city gives it a more modern economic advantage today, and makes it easy for those looking for Chicopee apartments for rent to come and go as they please.
Chicopee's history can be traced back to the 1630s, when the area's first European settlers arrived. The municipality was originally settled in 1640 as an annex to the fur trading post of Springfield, which is now the region's largest city. Chicopee developed as a farming community, and agriculture remained the area's main industry for the next two centuries. In 1822, however, everything changed with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Textile mills sprang up, powered by the nearby Skenungonuck Falls, and the city became known for producing finished cotton, synthetic cloth products and rubber tires. In its heyday, the Fisk Rubber Company's Chicopee plant was staffed by as many as 3,000 workers and produced 5,000 tires per day.
As of the last census, Chicopee contains 22.83 square miles of land. Its approximately 55,000 residents are divided among several neighborhoods that once functioned as independent villages - Aldenville, Willimansett, Chicopee Center (Cabotville), Chicopee Falls and Fairview - as well as a number of newer districts, including Chicomansett and Sandy Hill.
Chicopee is home to Westover Air Reserve Base, the biggest of its kind in the country. The 2,500-acre base was built in 1940 and features the longest runway in New England. The base is the city's largest employer, with approximately 3,400 workers. Other major area employers include the Top-Flite Golf Company and convenience store distributor J. Polep Distribution Services. Many residents commute to nearby Springfield, which is home to Baystate Health, Big Y Supermarkets, MassMutual Financial Group and the Sisters of Providence Health System.
Elms College is the city's main institute of further education. The Catholic liberal arts college was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, and its top five undergraduate majors are nursing, business and accounting, social work, education and communication sciences. Criminal justice and psychology are also popular fields of study.
The Chicopee School District serves 7,800 students and is comprised of one early childhood center, nine elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools and one alternative school.
Chicopee is ranked at 120.5 on City-Data.com's March 2012 cost of living index - higher than the U.S. average of 100. Those looking for apartments in Chicopee should expect to pay around $725 per month, according to median gross rent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
A perk of living in Chicopee is that the city has a municipal electric company, which delivers significantly better prices than larger commercial utilities.
Approximately a 10-minute drive from Chicopee is the city of Agawam, where Six Flags New England is located. During the summer months, Six Flags New England features concerts and other live performances, a water park - and, of course, rides. The Bizarro, Cyclone and Flashback rollercoasters are among the park's most famous attractions, but there are also designated kids' areas for younger visitors.
Within Chicopee lies the 575-acre Chicopee Memorial State Park. Located in the Burnett Road neighborhood of the city, the recreation area features two 25-acre ponds and is popular among locals who enjoy biking, fishing, jogging, biking and having picnics there.
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