Holyoke lies on the western bank of the Connecticut River between the Mount Tom Range. Holyoke is part of the Springfield Metropolitan Area. During the late 19th century the city produced an estimated 80% of the writing paper used in the United States, and was home to the largest paper, silk, and alpaca wool mills in the world.
Although a considerably smaller number of businesses in Holyoke work in the paper industry today, it is still commonly referred to as "The Paper City". Holyoke is also home to the Volleyball Hall of Fame and known as the "Birthplace of Volleyball", as the internationally played Olympic sport was invented and first played at the local YMCA chapter by William G. Morgan in 1895.