Originally called Ireland Parish, Holyoke was incorporated as a town in 1850 and took on the namesake of one of its founding settlers and community leaders, Captain Elizur Holyoke. It was an appropriate name for this farming community that became the premier planned industrial city of New England at the beginning of the twentieth century. By damming the Connecticut River and diverting the water into a series of man-made canals, Holyoke pioneered industrial development in western Massachusetts. This led to such rapid growth that by 1873 Holyoke's population had more than tripled, and it had become a city. In the following decades, Holyoke continued to grow and eventually became known as "the Queen of Industrial Cities," a distinction it enjoyed well into the 1920s.