A Walking Tour of Great Barrington, Massachusetts
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of Great Barrington, Massachusetts is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions. More
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
Its location on important transportation routes has shaped Great Barrington from before written history. When the Mahican Indians lived in the meadows here the area was called Mahaiwe, meaning “the place downstream.” In colonial times when the Dutch and English settled here beginning in 1726, it lay on the New England Path, which connected Fort Orange near Albany, New York with Springfield and then Massachusetts Bay in 1844. In a key moment in the American Revolution, Henry Knox used that path to haul cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to Dorchester Heights to end the British siege of Boston.
Great Barrington was by then an important hub, having been designated the Berkshire County seat in 1761. The town name came most probably came from Lord Barrington, an English aristocrat who was minister of war for his friend Prime Minister William Pitt, whose name Pittsfield took at the same time. The railroad arrived in 1842 spawning a growth spurt in trade and, following the Civil War, as a summer destination for refugees from the big northeastern cities. Wealthy families built grand homes called Berkshire Cottages here, as others would in Lenox and Stockbridge, cementing the region as a resort destination.
In 1886 William Stanley sent alternating current electricity flowing out of a generating station down Main Street and gave Great Barrington the first electric street lights in the world. But it was another type of light that would be most responsible for shaping the streetscape we’ll see on our walking tour - more than a dozen fires plagued Great Barrington in the 1800s, the most ferocious clearing entire blocks in 1896...
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