In 1851, the Swedish Nightingale, Jennie Lind, came to Northampton, stayed at the Round Hill Hotel, and took a walk by the pond. Then, she declared, for all the world to hear, “Why this is paradise!”
She was on her honeymoon, after all, marrying her long time accompanist. When you’re in love, everything looks a little better, and P.T. Barnum was Jennie’s promoter. It was probably summertime, when everything around here looks nicer.
Let’s face it: Northampton isn’t paradise, if it ever was. Maybe it’s still a paradise to artists, honeymooners, real estate people, the Chamber of Commerce and newcomers fleeing cities. I am sure that no one ever reminded Jennie that about forty years before she was here, a huge mob, numbering in the thousands, witnessed the legal lynching of James Halligan and Dominic Daley, just a stone’s throw from Paradise Pond. Irish Catholics were not welcome here in Northampton, and the priest that came to give the immigrants’ final rites found there was no room at the inn. I forget who finally put him up for the night.
And after the Irish came the Polish, who worshipped in church cellars and were treated like dirt by the Irish. There is a relentless romanticism about the place that is promoted as the home of idealism and reform, when we’ve always had more than our share of ugliness and bigotry. This website owes no advertiser anything, owes the Chamber nothing, and tries to tell stories about Northampton without the sugar coating.
I’m Mike Kirby. Send me a message at mike.kirby1[at]gmail[dot]com.