“Athens of the Connecticut Valley”

Several arguments on the pro-porn side appear to be as follows:

  • King Street is a write-off and not worth caring about

  • The neighborhoods around 135 King Street are a run-down collection of multi-family homes who shouldn’t expect better

  • NoPornNorthampton has not proven beyond any possible doubt that a Capital Video porn shop at 135 King Street will harm the neighborhood
The evidence of bad secondary effects of adult businesses is strong enough that court after court has upheld their regulation. But even if by some miracle the Capital Video porn shop does not arrest the progress of King Street and its surroundings, we wistfully recall a time when people sought more from this land than the basest possible use…

From the Introduction to Images of America: Northampton…

In 2004 Northampton, Massachusetts, will celebrate the 350th anniversary of her settling by a hardy band of pioneers from Connecticut. By the time photography joined with the written word to record the passage of time, Northampton was already two hundred years old with a proud history intimately interwoven with the nation’s larger story.

Before there were any devices that preserved images of reality for future generations, this frontier town living under the threat of hostile attack had grown into a place hailed as the “Athens of the Connecticut Valley”. To the Swedish Nightingale Jenny Lind, the town was the “Paradise of America”. Dr. Josiah Gilbert Holland, author of Kathrina, crowned Northampton “Queen village of the meads”.

Henry Ward Beecher, in his novel Norwood, affirmed that “No finer village glistens in the sunlight, or nestles under arching elms than that which looks over the transcendent valley of the Connecticut…how a man could live there and ever get his eyes to the ground, I cannot imagine.”

In August of 1847, Charles Sumner said as he stood on Mount Holyoke and looked over the Connecticut River valley below: “I have been all over England, have traveled through the Highlands of Scotland; I have passed up and down the Rhine, have ascended Mount Blanc and stood on the Compagna at Rome; but have never seen anything so surpassingly lovely as this.”

The charms of the “Meadow City”–which have also prompted similar tributes in our century–continue to inspire newcomers, visitors, and residents to this day. The seemingly inexhaustible fertility of the meadows remains a marvel to agronomists from around the world. The renaissance of the city’s downtown is the model that other New England towns openly envy and hope to emulate….

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