Dear Pittsfield friends,

I  thought I would share some thoughts about people and historic events that have a connection to
Pittsfield.  It's one of those cold snowy days and a good time to share pieces of stories I have been writing about our hometown.

If you haven't gotten any of the past vignettes, please let me know and if you really aren't interested in these pieces, also let me know.

if you have a some classmates and friends who might like to be on my
Pittsfield mailing list, please send me their names.  I also appreciate it if you ad me to your address book  so that I get a notice  if you change an internet carrier. 

Just a note to let you know that we are still pursuing the building of a Carousel and Exhibit Hall for 2011, the 250th anniversary of
Pittsfield.  The PACE organization is now a 501-c-3 non profit and , we are currently working on a location.  Personally I am in the final stages of hand carving a carousel horse which will be used for fund raising in Pittsfield and eventually on the carousel.

I do appreciate your emails with comments and questions.

Best regards,  Jim(my) Shulman

Pittsfield on the Map???   Thoughts from Jim(my) Shulman

Dixie Chicks???

   I caught the tale end of the 2007 Grammy awards last night and those Dixie Chicks bounced back well from their fall from popularity.  Whether or not you agree with their politics, they are terrific performers and survivors as evidenced from five major Grammy awards.  Well, did you know that this group has Pittsfield connections?

Emily Robison, who plays mostly the banjo, was born in
Pittsfield on August 16, 1972.  Read more about Emily the younger sister of fiddle playing Dixie Chick, Martie Maguire:

There's more!  The husband of lead singer, Natalie Maines is actor/director, Adrian Pasdar, who was born in Pittsfield on April 30, 1967.  His dad was a prominent heart surgeon. Read more at

Other Celebs???

Pittsfield is the birthplace or hometown to many Broadway, Hollywood and music industry celebrities.  If you are interested in learning more about other celebs from Pittsfield, check the site below.

A couple of the folks in the list include Elaine Giftos and Martin Aronstein.  Elaine was at Pittsfield High in the early 60s and had a dance part in the 1960 Class Musical Brigadoon which many of my classmates might remember.

Martin who was born in
Pittsfield, but moved at age 8 to the Albany area, became a famous lighting director.  I discovered Martin through a genealogy search and learned that he and my mother were second cousins.  Sadly he passed away a few years ago, but we did have some great conversations.

Here is the list of
Pittsfield celebs and bio info.,%20Massachusetts,%20USA

What else puts the City on the Map???

Besides Pittsfield being the hometown of these celebs,  the City has made its mark on history in a number of areas. 

Herman Melville

We all grew up knowing that Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick while living on
Holmes Rd. at Arrowhead.  He resided in Pittsfield from 1850 -1863 and completed other lesser known works during this time, i.e., Pierre:or The Ambiguities, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade and The Piazza Tales.

Secret Service

Did you know that the first Secret Service agent in the
US was killed in Pittsfield?  William Craig, a bodyguard to President Theodore Roosevelt was killed on September 3, 1902 when a trolley car collided with the President's carriage when enroute from downtown to the Country Club.  Incidentally the trolley driver was later charged with manslaughter and received a heavy fine and a six month jail sentence.


Pittsfield has recently prided itself on being the home of baseball.  In 2004 in the archives of the Berkshire Athenaeum, a document from 1791 was located in which reference was made to baseball. This newly famous document, known as the "Broken Window By-Law," prohibited anyone from playing baseball within 80 yards of the church and new meeting house.  A sign has been placed on the lawn of the First Church of Christ to commemorate this By-Law.  The authenticity of the sport as real baseball has been in question, but not the document.  Cooperstown, NY has been the recognized home of baseball allegedly founded in 1839 by Abner Doubleday.  The Pittsfield claim pre dates this date by 48 years!

Read more about
Pittsfield's role in baseball at

William Stanley and GE

In 1890, William Stanley founded the Stanley Electric Company in PittsfieldStanley was the inventor of the prototype AC transformer a device which made it possible to spread electric service over a wide area and allow alternating current to be available at different voltages. He first demonstrated this device in 1886 by lighting the stores in Great Barrington.  In 1893 the growing company started by Thomas Edison, the general Electric, bought Stanley's Company and in 1906 named the company, the GE Pittsfield Works.  The company became the major industrial operation in the area and at one time had in excess of 12,000 employees.  Presently GE has a very small workforce in the City where it houses its offices for its Plastics Division which interestingly is for sale.  GE has not been without its controversy in Pittsfield as major PCB clean ups continue and most of the Stanley and GE buildings are being razed.  A new industrial Park on the site is being developed.  Those of you who have not been back to Pittsfield in years will be shocked to see what used to be the General Electric Company along Tyler, Woodlawn, Merrill and other roads near the plant.

Two other firsts for
Pittsfield can't be overlooked.

Agricultural Fair

The first Agricultural Fair in the
US took place in Pittsfield.  In 1807 Elkanah Watson, a New England patriot and farmer, earned the title, “Father of US agricultural fairs” by producing a small exhibit of sheep under an old elm tree on Park Square. Watson believed that the fine textured fleece of the exhibited Merino sheep once manufactured into cloth, would successfully compete with the best wool imported from England.   In 1810 he staged a larger and more ambitious project, a Berkshire cattle show. The event was successful beyond all his expectations; entries included 386 sheep, 109 oxen, 9 cows, 7 folds, 3 heifers, 2 calves and 1 boar.

Balloon Race

Another lesser known first for
Pittsfield was the first gas balloon race in the US.  In the early 1900s Pittsfield had an Aero Park located at East  and Newell Streets where now sits a  baseball park as a tribute to 1962 PHS classmate, the late Mark Belanger, who was a star shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles.   The land was originally owned by the Pittsfield Gas Works and offered for free use as a launch site along with good rates on the cold gas used in the balloons. In November 1906 the first recognized balloon race occurred with three passengers in the basket of a balloon racing against 35 automobiles.  The balloon won, but luckily avoided a disaster.  You can read more about this race and ballooning in Pittsfield at:

The Library of Congress has available a 15 minute silent black and white videotape, “Society Ballooning, Pittsfield, MA,” which was filmed in 1906, and shows the filling of a gas balloon, mounting of the basket, and the flight.

And you might have thought your hometown never did much (LOL)!  As I close, here's a fun stroll back to the fifties.  Those of you old enough link your memory to
Pittsfield experiences.

At the very end, there is a site with dozens of old original recordings you can listen to!

Website courtesy of Clark W. Nicholls, PHS 1968