Amherst, Massachusetts

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Amherst, Massachusetts
Town
Downtown Amherst.  Shops along the west side of South Pleasant Street, February 2005.
Downtown Amherst. Shops along the west side of South Pleasant Street, February 2005.
Flag of Amherst, Massachusetts
Flag
Official seal of Amherst, Massachusetts
Seal
Nickname(s): The People's Republic of Amherst[1][2][3]
Location in Hampshire County in Massachusetts
Location in Hampshire County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°23′N 72°31′W / 42.383°N 72.517°W / 42.383; -72.517
CountryUnited States
StateMassachusetts
CountyHampshire
Settled1703
Incorporated1759
Government
 • TypeRepresentative town meeting
Area
 • Total27.8 sq mi (71.9 km2)
 • Land27.7 sq mi (71.8 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation295 ft (90 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total37,819
 • Density1,365.3/sq mi (526.7/km2)
Time zoneEastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST)Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP codes01002–01004, 01059
Area code(s)413
FIPS code25-01325
GNIS feature ID0618195
Websitewww.amherstma.gov
 
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Amherst, Massachusetts
Town
Downtown Amherst.  Shops along the west side of South Pleasant Street, February 2005.
Downtown Amherst. Shops along the west side of South Pleasant Street, February 2005.
Flag of Amherst, Massachusetts
Flag
Official seal of Amherst, Massachusetts
Seal
Nickname(s): The People's Republic of Amherst[1][2][3]
Location in Hampshire County in Massachusetts
Location in Hampshire County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°23′N 72°31′W / 42.383°N 72.517°W / 42.383; -72.517
CountryUnited States
StateMassachusetts
CountyHampshire
Settled1703
Incorporated1759
Government
 • TypeRepresentative town meeting
Area
 • Total27.8 sq mi (71.9 km2)
 • Land27.7 sq mi (71.8 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation295 ft (90 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total37,819
 • Density1,365.3/sq mi (526.7/km2)
Time zoneEastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST)Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP codes01002–01004, 01059
Area code(s)413
FIPS code25-01325
GNIS feature ID0618195
Websitewww.amherstma.gov

Amherst (Listeni/ˈæmərst/[4]) is a town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States in the Connecticut River valley. As of the 2010 census, the population was 37,819, making it the largest community in Hampshire County (although the county seat is Northampton). The town is home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, three of the Five Colleges. Unlike some other towns of the same name,[5] the name of the town is pronounced without the h ("AM-erst"),[6] giving rise to the local saying, "only the 'h' is silent", in reference both to the pronunciation and to the town's politically active populace.[7]

The communities of Amherst Center, North Amherst, and South Amherst are census-designated places.

Amherst is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. Lying 18 miles (28.9 km) northeast of the city of Springfield, Amherst is considered the northernmost town in the Hartford-Springfield Knowledge Corridor Metropolitan Region.

History[edit]

The earliest known document of the lands now comprising Amherst is the deed of purchase dated December 1658 between John Pynchon of Springfield and three native inhabitants, referred to as Umpanchla, Quonquont and Chickwalopp.[8] According to the deed, "ye Indians of Nolwotogg (Norwottuck) upon ye River of Quinecticott (Connecticut)" sold the entire area in exchange for "two Hundred fatham of Wampam & Twenty fatham, and one large Coate at Eight fatham wch Chickwollop set of, of trusts, besides severall small giftes" [sic]. Amherst celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. The Amherst 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee was established to oversee the creation and implementation of townwide activities throughout 2009. The Amherst Historical Society also organized events, including a book published by them and written by Elizabeth M. Sharpe, Amherst A to Z.

When the first permanent English settlements arrived in 1727, this land and the surrounding area (including present-day South Hadley and Granby) belonged to the town of Hadley. It gained precinct status in 1734 and eventually township in 1759.

When it incorporated, the colonial governor assigned the town the name Amherst after Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst. Many colonial governors at the time scattered his name amidst the influx of new town applications, which is why several towns in the Northeast bear the name. Amherst was a hero of the French and Indian War who, according to popular legend, singlehandedly won Canada for the British and banished France from North America. Popular belief has it that he supported the American side in the Revolutionary war and resigned his commission rather than fight for the British. Baron Amherst actually remained in the service of the Crown during the war—albeit in Great Britain rather than North America—where he organized the defense against the proposed Franco-Spanish Armada of 1779. Nonetheless, his previous service in the French and Indian War meant he remained popular in New England. Amherst is also infamous for recommending, in a letter to a subordinate, the use of smallpox-covered blankets in warfare against the Native Americans along with any "other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race."[9] For this reason, there have been occasional ad hoc movements to rename the town. Suggested new names have included "Emily," after Emily Dickinson.

In 1786, as the American Revolution was ending, many soldiers returning home found themselves in debt because they had been unable to attend to business and property while away fighting. Farmers unable to pay taxes and debts had their property and livestock confiscated by the courts. Daniel Shays, a Pelham resident who was promoted from the ranks to a captain in the Revolutionary Army, organized Shays' Rebellion.

Geography and climate[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, Amherst has a total area of 27.8 square miles (72.0 km2), of which 27.7 square miles (71.7 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2) (0.14%) is water. The town is bordered by Hadley to the west, Sunderland and Leverett to the north, Shutesbury, Pelham, and Belchertown to the east, and Granby and South Hadley to the south. The highest point in the town is on the northern shoulder of Mount Norwottuck; the peak is in Granby but the town's high point is a few yards away and is about 1100 feet. The town is nearly equidistant from both the northern and southern state lines. For interactive mapping provided by the Town of Amherst, see External Links on this page.

Amherst's ZIP code of 01002 is the second-lowest number in the continental United States after Agawam (not counting codes used for specific government buildings such as the IRS).

Climate data for Amherst, Massachusetts (1981–2010 normals)
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °F (°C)70
(21)
70
(21)
85
(29)
93
(34)
98
(37)
101
(38)
104
(40)
100
(38)
99
(37)
90
(32)
82
(28)
72
(22)
104
(40)
Average high °F (°C)34.6
(1.4)
38.3
(3.5)
46.5
(8.1)
59.4
(15.2)
70.2
(21.2)
78.7
(25.9)
83.4
(28.6)
81.9
(27.7)
74.5
(23.6)
62.3
(16.8)
50.8
(10.4)
39.2
(4)
59.98
(15.53)
Average low °F (°C)13.2
(−10.4)
16.2
(−8.8)
24.4
(−4.2)
34.6
(1.4)
44.8
(7.1)
54.7
(12.6)
59.3
(15.2)
57.6
(14.2)
49.2
(9.6)
37.4
(3)
29.7
(−1.3)
20.0
(−6.7)
36.76
(2.64)
Record low °F (°C)−30
(−34)
−27
(−33)
−17
(−27)
8
(−13)
24
(−4)
29
(−2)
39
(4)
32
(0)
25
(−4)
12
(−11)
−4
(−20)
−22
(−30)
−30
(−34)
Precipitation inches (mm)3.31
(84.1)
3.12
(79.2)
3.55
(90.2)
3.87
(98.3)
4.10
(104.1)
4.12
(104.6)
4.06
(103.1)
3.71
(94.2)
4.19
(106.4)
4.75
(120.7)
3.85
(97.8)
3.48
(88.4)
46.11
(1,171.2)
Snowfall inches (cm)12.7
(32.3)
9.4
(23.9)
6.9
(17.5)
1.3
(3.3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
2.0
(5.1)
8.7
(22.1)
41.0
(104.1)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)10.28.610.110.912.511.510.410.09.09.810.210.1123.3
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)5.54.02.7.400000.11.03.417.1
Source: NOAA[10]

Demographics[edit]

UMass, looking southeast
Historical population
YearPop.±%
17901,233—    
18001,258+2.0%
18101,469+16.8%
18201,917+30.5%
18302,631+37.2%
18402,550−3.1%
18503,057+19.9%
18603,206+4.9%
18704,035+25.9%
18804,298+6.5%
18904,512+5.0%
19005,028+11.4%
19105,112+1.7%
19205,550+8.6%
19305,883+6.0%
19406,410+9.0%
195010,856+69.4%
196013,718+26.4%
197026,331+91.9%
198033,229+26.2%
199035,228+6.0%
200034,874−1.0%
201037,819+8.4%

Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]

As of the 2008 U.S. Census, there were 35,564 people, 9,174 households, and 4,550 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,283.4 people per square mile (485.7/km²). There were 9,427 housing units at an average density of 340.1 per square mile (131.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 76.7% White, 5.10% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 9.02% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 2.89% from other races, and 3.35% from two or more races. 6.19% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 9,174 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.4% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the town the population was spread out with 12.8% under the age of 18, 50.0% from 18 to 24, 17.2% from 25 to 44, 13.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $40,017, and the median income for a family was $61,237. Males had a median income of $44,795 versus $32,672 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,427. About 7.2% of families and 20.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.3% of those under age 18 and 3.5% of those age 65 or over. The reason for the large population living below the poverty line is the large number of students that live in Amherst.[citation needed]

According to the 2010 5-year American Community Survey estimates, occupied housing units had a median household income of $50,063, which includes both renter and owner-occupied units. More specifically, owner-occupied units had a median income of $100,208, while renter-occupied housing units had a median income of $23,925. Large disparities in income between the two groups could explain the high poverty rate and lower median income, as students are the primary tenants of renter-occupied units within Amherst.

Of residents 25 years old or older, 41.7% have a graduate or professional degree, and only 4.9% did not graduate from high school. The largest industry is education, health, and social services, in which 51.9% of employed persons work.

These statistics given above include some but not all of the large student population, roughly 30,000 in 2010, many of whom only reside in the town part of the year. Amherst is home to thousands of part-time and full-time residents associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, and Hampshire College and many of those students are involved with the liberal politics of the town.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 18, 2006[22]
PartyTotal VotersPercentage
 Democratic8,35049.18%
 Republican1,0766.34%
 Unaffiliated7,22842.57%
 Other Parties3261.92%
Total16,980100%

Government[edit]

Town Hall

Amherst is among relatively few towns of its size in Massachusetts without a mayor-council or council-manager form of government. Instead, it has maintained its traditional system, with a representative town meeting for the legislative branch and a select board for the executive. The Select Board hires a town manager for daily administrative issues.[23]

By a special state law, Amherst's town meeting meeting is modified from the traditional, by designating ten precincts, each with 24 elected representatives.[23] With an additional 14 ex officio members (the 5 Select Board members; the 5 School Committee members; President of the Library Trustees; Chair of the Finance Committee; Town Manager; and a Moderator), the total membership of Town Meeting is 254.[23]

In recent years, some have sought to abolish the 254-member Town Meeting with a new charter that would create a directly elected mayor and a nine-member Town Council. The charter was rejected by voters in spring 2003 by fourteen votes and defeated again on March 29, 2005, by 252 votes.

Local political concerns[edit]

The Amherst Conservation Commission voted to ban off-leash dogs from local conservation areas (Amethyst Brook and Lower Miller River) for most hours of the day. The decision was taken over objections of some commissioners.

State and federal representation[edit]

In the Massachusetts General Court, Amherst is in the "Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester" Senatorial District,[24] represented by State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, a Democrat. Representative Ellen Story, also a Democrat, represents Amherst for the 3rd Hampshire District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Amherst is represented at the federal level by an all-Democratic delegation, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and by Representative Jim McGovern of the Second Congressional District of Massachusetts.

Transportation[edit]

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA), funded by local governments and the Five Colleges, provides public transportation in the area and runs well into the early morning hours on weekends when school is in session. Passenger fares on Amherst routes are prepaid by member academic institutions; students and staff simply show their ID to ride as often as they like.

Rail service is available through Amtrak at the Amherst station (AMM) on the soon-to-be-rerouted Vermonter service between Washington D.C. and St. Albans, VT. More frequent service to New York City and Washington, D.C. is available from Springfield.

The closest major domestic and limited international air service is available through Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Bradley is located approximately one hour's driving time from Amherst. Major international service is available through Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston, 90 miles away.

General aviation service is close by, at Northampton Airport (7B2), Westover Metropolitan Airport (CEF), and Turners Falls Airport (0B5).

Sister cities[edit]

Notable residents[edit]

Historical[edit]

Born or raised in Amherst[edit]

Live in Amherst[edit]

Points of interest[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hollander, Paul (1981). Political pilgrims: Western intellectuals in search of the good society. Piscataway, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. p. xxv. Retrieved 2013-04-07. "Brentlinger, a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst was robustly and proudly alienated from American society and culture...he has probably benefited from living amidst like-minded people in what has been jestingly called 'the people's republic of Amherst, Mass.'" 
  2. ^ Arkes, Hadley (1996), "Response to Fund", in Schaefer, David Lewis; Schaefer, Roberta Rubel, The future of cities, Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, Inc, p. 9, retrieved 2013-04-07, "I come to you from one of those places that is in America, but not quite of it...In my case it is the People's Republic of Amherst" 
  3. ^ Sarat, Austin (2008), "Contested Terrain: Visions of Multiculturalism in an American Town", in Minow, Martha; Shweder, Richard A.; Markus, Hazel, Just schools: pursuing equality in societies of difference, New York: Russell Sage Foundation, p. 102, retrieved 2013-04-07, "I live in a place whose liberal tendencies have earned it various nicknames. For example, it has been called 'The People's Republic of Amherst'" 
  4. ^ "Amherst". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  5. ^ See, e.g., www.amerst.com[dead link], an Amherst College alumni website, among many other sources.
  6. ^ languagehat.com, uscho.com, bbc.co.uk
  7. ^ See, e.g., local t-shirt for sale; Chris Rohmann, "Stage Struck: Silent But Deadly", Valley Advocate, Oct. 20, 2011; and "Living in Western Massachusetts", Pioneer Valley Cohousing (last visited Sept. 16, 2012).
  8. ^ Carpenter, Edward W. (1896). The History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts, pp. 1-2. Press of Carpenter & Morehouse.
  9. ^ Jeffrey Amherst and Smallpox Blankets
  10. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
  11. ^ "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010. 
  12. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  13. ^ "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts". US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  14. ^ "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts". US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  15. ^ "1950 Census of Population". 1: Number of Inhabitants. Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  16. ^ "1920 Census of Population". Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  17. ^ "1890 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  18. ^ "1870 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  19. ^ "1860 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  20. ^ "1850 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  21. ^ amherstma.gov
  22. ^ "2006 State Election Party Enrollment Statistics (PDF, 108k)" (PDF). Massachusetts Secretary of State. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  23. ^ a b c "Town Meeting", Town of Amherst Official Website (last visited March 21, 2014).
  24. ^ "Massachusetts Senatorial Districts", Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (last visited March 21, 2014)
  25. ^ "Nyeri Sister City Committee". Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  26. ^ "La Paz Centro Sister City Committee". Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  27. ^ "Kanegasaki Sister City Committee". Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  28. ^ a b c d e Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967. 
  29. ^ "Mary Mattoon and her hero of the revolution" by Alice M. Walker, Carpenter and Morehouse, 1902

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°22′01″N 72°31′01″W / 42.367°N 72.517°W / 42.367; -72.517