The fame of this beautifully located city in the center of the Berkshire Hills, has traveled far and wide, and few indeed are the visitors who have not heard of its attractiveness.
Its scenery, its traditions, its ideal location, its lakes, and its drives, have been the subject of song and story for generations and people come to it from all sections of the country expecting to be interested, amused, and charmed. With the idea of aiding the visitor in seeing that which is best worth seeing during a brief sojourn in Pittsfield, this little pamphlet is issued.
The men who selected the site of Pittsfield could not have chosen a more delightful spot in which to lay the foundation of what has come to be the gem city of western Massachusetts. Laid out in a natural amphitheatre, the hills surround and encompass it, and its broad streets lead in all directions to points of beauty and interest.
An excellent idea of the city’s situation may be obtained from the roof of The Wendell hotel, the Berkshire Life Insurance Company building, or the Berkshire County Savings Bank building, all of which are located very nearly in the center of the city. Perhaps to one starting out to see Pittsfield, nothing could be more helpful nor more certain to enlist an eager interest, than a visit to the roof of one of these buildings from which magnificent views of the city’s surroundings are obtainable. These buildings, by the way, are among the finest in Berkshire County and are prominent as architectural attractions of Pittsfield.
Just in the center of the city, lies what is called The Park, a small oval-shaped space, sodded, curbed, and shaded by towering elms. The Park is not only Pittsfield’s geographical center, but it is also the center of the city’s life and its traditions. In the early days of the old town this was an open space over which the village cows grazed contentedly.
Happily, the space was preserved, and as early as 1812 it was recognized as the public green, and some improvements to that end were made. In those days its most prominent fea- ture was the ” Old Elm,” a magnificent specimen of its kind, which stood near the center of the present Park. It was 1 20 feet high, and 90 feet to the first limb. This tree became historic, for under its shade much trans- pired that has helped to make Pittsfield’s history notable The tree stood until 1862, and when, becoming unsafe, it was cut down, the people of the town mourned it as an old friend.
From time to time the former “green” has been improved until it is today a delight- ful little spot in the very heart of the city. At the western end of the Park, facing the entrance and look- ing off to the western hills, stands the soldiers’ monument. The bronze figure of ” The Color Sergeant,” which surmounts the granite pedestal, is the work of Launt Thompson, and there are few more beautiful bronzes in the country.
This monument, which cost $10,000, was dedicated in 1872, the dedicatory address being delivered by the late George William Curtis. An interesting thing about this bit of land, is that here was held the first “cattle show,” so called, ever held in the United States. The society which held it has been in continuous existence ever since, and its annual fair at its spacious grounds in the north part of the town, is one of the notable events of the autumn sea- son.
The Park is almost wholly surrounded by public buildings, some of them of much historic interest To the north stands the Savings Bank building, a beauti- ful modern structure occupied entirely as an office building. Next east is the fine old gray stone structure of the First Congregational Church, which society has been closely identified with Pittsfield’s history from the very first. The early pastor of this church, was the famous ” Fighting Parson ” Rev. Thomas Allen who led the patriotic men of Berkshire to assist Gen. Stark in the battle of Bennington. Dr. John Todd a famous preacher, writer and scholar, was long its pastor and on its records are scores of names which have been prominent in state and national history.
The venerable structure next east, is the old town hall, now en- larged and dignified into the home of the city govern- ment. This building has been the scene of many famous and stirring gatherings and in it was formerly to be seen a most impressive exemplification of the old ” Town meeting ” idea. Its walls have echoed to the eloquence of such men as Hon Henry L. Dawes, the late Governor Briggs and scores of others who have been prominently identified with state and national affairs. Just beyond the city hall to the east, stands St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, a brown stone edifice of much architectural beauty and located almost ex- actly upon the site of the society’s original church building. Across the park to the east, stands the Court house, a building constructed of white marble from Sheffield.