Berkshire County, Massachusetts

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Berkshire County, Massachusetts
Berkshire County Courthouse 2.JPG
Berkshire County Courthouse
Map of Massachusetts highlighting Berkshire County
Location in the state of Massachusetts
Map of the United States highlighting Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location in the U.S.
Founded1685
SeatPittsfield
Largest cityPittsfield
Area
 • Total946 sq mi (2,450 km2)
 • Land931 sq mi (2,411 km2)
 • Water15 sq mi (39 km2), 1.59%
Population
 • (2010)131,219
 • Density141/sq mi (54/km²)
Congressional district1st
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4
 
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For the Royal County of Berkshire in the United Kingdom, see Berkshire.
Berkshire County, Massachusetts
Berkshire County Courthouse 2.JPG
Berkshire County Courthouse
Map of Massachusetts highlighting Berkshire County
Location in the state of Massachusetts
Map of the United States highlighting Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location in the U.S.
Founded1685
SeatPittsfield
Largest cityPittsfield
Area
 • Total946 sq mi (2,450 km2)
 • Land931 sq mi (2,411 km2)
 • Water15 sq mi (39 km2), 1.59%
Population
 • (2010)131,219
 • Density141/sq mi (54/km²)
Congressional district1st
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4
The Berkshire Hills, part of the Appalachian Mountains, in winter

Berkshire County, pronounced Berk-sher, is a non-governmental county located on the western edge of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the population was 131,219.[1] Its largest city and traditional county seat is Pittsfield.[2] The Berkshire Hills are centered on Berkshire County, and the county itself is often referred to simply as "the Berkshires".

Law and government[edit]

Of the fourteen Massachusetts counties, Berkshire County is one of seven that exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government. All former county functions were assumed by state agencies in 2000. The sheriff and some other regional officials with specific duties are still elected locally to perform duties within the county region, but there is no county council or commissioner. However, communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services. The towns of Berkshire County have formed such a regional compact known as the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

Berkshire County has three Registry of Deeds Districts, one for each district.

County government: Berkshire County
Clerk of Courts:Deborah S. Capeless
District Attorney:David F. Capeless
Register of Deeds:Frances T. Brooks[3] (Northern District at Adams)
Patsy Harris (Middle District at Pittsfield)
Wanda M. Beckwith (Southern District at Great Barrington)
Register of Probate:Francis B. Marinaro
County Sheriff:Thomas Bowler
State government
State Representative(s):4 Representatives: [1]
Gailanne Cariddi (D), First Berkshire
Paul Mark (D), Second Berkshire
Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D), Third Berkshire
William Smitty Pignatelli (D), Fourth Berkshire
State Senator(s):1 Senator: [2]
Benjamin B. Downing (D), Pittsfield
Governor's Councilor(s):Carole A. Fiola - District 1
Kelly A. Timilty - District 2
Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney - District 3
Christopher A. Iannella - District 4
Mary-Ellen Manning - District 5
Michael J. Callahan - District 6
Thomas J. Foley - District 7
Thomas T. Merrigan - District 8
Federal government
U.S. Representative(s):Richard Neal (D-1st District)
U.S. Senators:Elizabeth Warren (D), Ed Markey (D)
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 13, 2010[4]
PartyNumber of VotersPercentage
 Democratic33,29337.63%
 Republican8,4209.52%
 Unaffiliated46,08951.52%
 Minor Parties6690.76%
Total88,471100%

Berkshire County is located in the Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, a primarily rural district that makes up most of Western Massachusetts.

Berkshire County has four (4) districts and elected Representatives in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Berkshire County is located in one (1) district for the Massachusetts Senate.

The district consist of all of Berkshire County and the following cities: Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington, in the county of Hampshire; and Ashfield, Charlemont, Conway, Hawley, Heath, Monroe and Rowe, in the county of Franklin. Benjamin B. Downing (D), is the current Senator.

The Massachusetts Governor's Council, also known as the Executive Council, is composed of eight individuals elected from districts, and the Lt. Governor who serves ex officio. The eight councillors are elected from their respective districts every two years. Berkshire County is located in the 8th District.

The Council generally meets at noon on Wednesdays in its State House Chamber, next to the Governor's Office, to act on such issues as payments from the state treasury, criminal pardons and commutations, and approval of gubernatorial appointments; such as judges, notaries and justices of the peace.

See also the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts page on counties.

Geography[edit]

According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 946.27 square miles (2,450.8 km2), of which 931.32 square miles (2,412.1 km2) (or 98.42%) is land and 14.95 square miles (38.7 km2) (or 1.58%) is water. The highest natural point in Massachusetts, Mount Greylock at 3,492 feet (1,064 m) is located in Berkshire County.

Berkshire County is one of two Massachusetts counties that borders three different neighboring states; the other being Worcester County. The two counties are also the only ones to touch both the northern and southern state lines.

Running north-south through the county are the Hoosac Range of the Berkshire Hills in the eastern part of the county and the Taconic Mountains in the western part of the county. They are a source of pride for their beauty, and have marked the county's character. Due to their elevation, the Berkshires attract tourists and summer residents eager to escape the heat of the lowlands.

Adjacent counties[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
CensusPop.
179030,263
180033,88512.0%
181035,9076.0%
182035,720−0.5%
183037,8355.9%
184041,74510.3%
185049,59118.8%
186055,12011.1%
187064,82717.6%
188069,0326.5%
189081,10817.5%
190095,66718.0%
1910105,25910.0%
1920113,0337.4%
1930120,7006.8%
1940122,2731.3%
1950132,9668.7%
1960142,1356.9%
1970149,4025.1%
1980145,110−2.9%
1990139,352−4.0%
2000134,953−3.2%
2010131,219−2.8%
Est. 2012130,016−0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
2012 Estimate[6]

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 134,953 people, 56,006 households, and 35,115 families residing in the county. The population density was 145 people per square mile (56/km²). There were 66,301 housing units at an average density of 71 per square mile (27/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.02% White, 1.99% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.99% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.59% from other races, and 1.23% from two or more races. 1.69% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.5% were of Italian, 16.4% Irish, 10.8% French, 10.3% English, 8.0% Polish, 7.1% German, 5.8% American and 5.1% French Canadian ancestry according to Census 2000. 94.1% spoke English, 1.6% Spanish and 1.1% French as their first language.

There were 56,006 households out of which 27.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.00% were married couples living together, 11.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.30% were non-families. 31.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.40% under the age of 18, 8.40% from 18 to 24, 26.40% from 25 to 44, 24.90% from 45 to 64, and 17.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 91.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,047, and the median income for a family was $50,162. Males had a median income of $36,692 versus $26,504 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,807. About 6.50% of families and 9.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.30% of those under age 18 and 7.20% of those age 65 or over.

Demographic breakdown by town[edit]

Income[edit]

The ranking of unincorporated communities that are included on the list are reflective if the census designated locations and villages were included as cities or towns. Data is from the 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.[8][9][10]

RankTownPer capita
income
Median
household
income
Median
family
income
PopulationNumber of
households
1TyringhamTown$55,836$94,375$126,875358149
2RichmondTown$51,808$88,125$94,4231,671702
3AlfordTown$49,272$85,833$102,750501232
4OtisTown$44,085$63,672$70,5471,248571
5Mount WashingtonTown$40,073$68,750$69,68815064
6WilliamstownTown$39,451$72,743$97,0607,8282,859
7EgremontTown$39,236$50,848$66,5001,043529
8BecketTown$37,233$41,852$62,8231,775790
LenoxCDP$37,192$48,158$62,5691,349782
9SheffieldTown$36,640$52,181$75,0003,2551,464
10New AshfordTown$35,676$63,854$75,750225109
11West StockbridgeTown$35,092$75,543$97,7841,573640
12Great BarringtonTown$34,585$48,561$73,3697,1312,792
13CheshireTown$34,413$56,597$74,2503,2451,408
14LenoxTown$33,405$54,622$74,8445,0132,084
HousatonicCDP$33,281$28,837$27,4481,024556
15WindsorTown$33,234$74,866$99,091902321
16LanesboroughTown$33,058$66,071$82,4003,0741,240
17WashingtonTown$32,501$69,286$71,250583240
18New MarlboroughTown$32,451$67,528$68,7501,499591
19MontereyTown$32,404$42,083$47,625793302
20StockbridgeTown$31,821$53,698$69,0381,755765
WilliamstownCDP$31,808$46,622$100,8333,6521,312
21SandisfieldTown$31,746$60,104$69,706985381
22HinsdaleTown$30,753$62,596$71,4422,136860
23HancockTown$29,851$78,571$79,911713254
Berkshire CountyCounty$29,387$48,705$64,393131,22155,793
Great BarringtonCDP$28,282$40,393$66,5002,4641,021
24LeeTown$28,270$51,835$67,4075,9322,486
25PeruTown$28,080$68,523$72,344863337
26SavoyTown$27,725$58,068$58,452706293
LeeCDP$27,549$43,750$70,4171,843874
27DaltonTown$26,854$52,285$61,7396,7532,663
28PittsfieldCity$26,767$44,513$57,67344,69119,966
29FloridaTown$25,666$46,458$58,281719337
AdamsCDP$25,096$38,256$46,5545,3672,508
30ClarksburgTown$25,013$54,095$61,8361,844727
31AdamsTown$24,423$39,080$46,0218,4943,770
32North AdamsCity$20,330$36,424$51,02813,7635,867
CheshireCDP$14,088$47,361$56,125610209

Politics[edit]

Presidential election results[11]
YearDemocraticRepublican
201275.8% 48,59622.2% 14,209
200874.9% 49,55822.5% 14,876
200473.1% 47,74325.7% 16,806
200063.9% 37,93426.6% 15,805

In the last two U.S. Presidential elections, Berkshire County was Massachusetts's second-bluest county behind Suffolk County, which consists primarily of Boston. In 2004, the Bay State's native son John Kerry carried Berkshire by a massive 47.4% margin over incumbent President George W. Bush, with Kerry winning his home state by 25.2% over President Bush. In 2008, the county voted for Barack Obama by a 52.4% margin over John McCain, with Obama winning by 25.8% over McCain statewide. Obama won the county by an even larger margin of 53.6% in the 2012 election.[12]

History[edit]

Berkshire County was originally inhabited by the Mahican (Muh-he-ka-neew) Native American tribe, until the early 18th century when the first English settlers and frontiersmen appeared around this time and began setting up farms and homesteads. On April 25, 1724 “The English finally paid the Indians 460 pounds, 3 barrels of cider, and 30 quarts of rum for what is today Berkshire County.”[13] This deal exempted modern Sheffield, Stockbridge, Richmond and Lenox, which were collected at various other dates into English territory.

Berkshire County remained part of Hampshire County, Massachusetts until 1760, when it was divided off as a separate entity.

In the 19th century many of the towns of Berkshire County became popular with the country's elite as they built what they called "cottages" throughout the country side. The Gilded Age ended in the early 20th century with the income tax, World War I, and the Great Depression. In the 20th century some of these cottages were torn or burned down, while others became prep schools, historic sites, or bed-and-breakfast inns.

Today Berkshire is known throughout the East Coast and the country as the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It includes Tanglewood to the Norman Rockwell museum, Mass MOCA and Hancock Shaker Village.

Cities, towns, and villages[edit]

Map of Berkshire County

*: Villages are census divisions, but have no separate legal existence from the towns they are in.

°: There is also a southern border with Dutchess County, New York, however this is in a forested area and there is no direct access to Berkshire County.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Northern Berkshire District Registry of Deeds. Sec.state.ma.us. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  4. ^ "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 13, 2010" (PDF). Massachusetts Elections Division. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Census.gov. Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ "SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  9. ^ "ACS DEMOGRAPHIC AND HOUSING ESTIMATES 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  10. ^ "HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  11. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2013-01-09. 
  12. ^ U.S. Election Atlas
  13. ^ David H. Wood, 'Lenox Massachusetts Shire Town', (For the town: Lenox, 1969), p. 5.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°22′N 73°13′W / 42.37°N 73.21°W / 42.37; -73.21