WESTFIELD- The Historical Commission is in the process of creating a new Pocket Sight Tour in the City of Westfield that will focus on locations of importance to immigrant groups in the city.
Commissioner Carlene Bannish said during the commission meeting Jan. 27 that each commissioner has been tasked with researching the histories of different immigrant groups in Westfield to build the second Pocket Sight Tour for the city. There is an existing Pocket Sight Tour titled: “Whipping Around Westfield,” which takes people through the notable historical buildings and markers in the city’s downtown.
Pocket Sight Tours are based out of a phone application of the same name. It allows one to go on a self-guided tour which can either be narrated or the information of each site is available to be read on the application itself.
Commissioner Michael Ingraham said that he has been researching Puerto Rican and Butanese Nepali immigration to the city to help build part of the tour.
“I have spent a lot of time speaking with people about the Butanese Nepali,” said Ingraham, “They’re all about their schools. When I asked what locations in Westfield are significant to your community, they said it is all of the schools where their kids go.”
Commissioner Debbie U. Opperman said that she has been in the Westfield Athenaeum doing research on Italian immigration to the city for the tour.
“It’s been fascinating to see how different writers through history give different interpretations through the years,” said Opperman, “One of the earliest books talks about how the Italians coming to Westfield were ‘an unskilled and uneducated group,’ yet a book written a few years later talks about how they were specifically recruited from particular communities in Italy because of their skill as stone workers.”
Other groups being researched by the commissioners include Irish and Polish immigrants.