Essex County, Massachusetts

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Essex County, Massachusetts
Map of Massachusetts highlighting Essex County
Location in the state of Massachusetts
Map of the United States highlighting Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location in the U.S.
Named forEssex
SeatSalem & Lawrence
Largest cityLynn
 • Total829 sq mi (2,147 km2)
 • Land501 sq mi (1,298 km2)
 • Water328 sq mi (850 km2), 39.58%
 • (2010)743,159
 • Density1,483/sq mi (573/km²)
Congressional districts3rd, 6th
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4
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Essex County, Massachusetts
Map of Massachusetts highlighting Essex County
Location in the state of Massachusetts
Map of the United States highlighting Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location in the U.S.
Named forEssex
SeatSalem & Lawrence
Largest cityLynn
 • Total829 sq mi (2,147 km2)
 • Land501 sq mi (1,298 km2)
 • Water328 sq mi (850 km2), 39.58%
 • (2010)743,159
 • Density1,483/sq mi (573/km²)
Congressional districts3rd, 6th
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4

Essex County is a county located in the northeastern part of the State of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the population was 743,159.[1] Prior to the dissolution of the county government in 1999, it had two county seats: Salem, with jurisdiction over the Southern Essex District, and Lawrence, with jurisdiction over the Northern Essex District. The county and the districts remain as administrative regions recognized by various agencies of the governmental substructure, which gathered vital statistics or disposed of judicial case loads under these geographic subdivisions, and are required to keep the records based on them. Salem and Lawrence are no longer county seats of government. However, the county subdivision has been utilized by some agencies. For example, the county as it was has been designated the Essex National Heritage Area by the National Park Service. It also is used to define areas within a National Weather Service weather alert (such as a severe thunderstorm warning) without listing every single town/city in the alert's area.


Printed in 1812, this political cartoon illustrates the electoral districts drawn by the Massachusetts legislature to favor the incumbent Democratic-Republican party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists, from which the term gerrymander is derived. The cartoon depicts the bizarre shape of a district in Essex County as a dragon.

The county was created by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on May 10, 1643, when it was ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four sheires". Named after the county in England, Essex then comprised the towns of Salem, Lynn, Wenham, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Gloucester, and Andover,[2] which were subdivided over the centuries to produce the modern composition of cities and towns.

Essex County is famous as the area that Elbridge Gerry (who was born and raised in Marblehead) districted into a salamander-like shape in 1812 that gave rise to the word gerrymandering.

Law and government[edit]

Like several other Massachusetts counties, Essex County exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government. All former county functions were assumed by state agencies in 1999. The sheriff (currently Frank Cousins) 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, commissioner, or county employees. Communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services. See also: League of Women Voters page on Massachusetts counties.


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 828.53 square miles (2,145.9 km2), of which 500.67 square miles (1,296.7 km2) (or 60.43%) is land and 327.86 square miles (849.2 km2) (or 39.57%) is water. Essex County is adjacent to Rockingham County, New Hampshire to the north, the Atlantic Ocean (specifically the Gulf of Maine and Massachusetts Bay) to the east, Suffolk County to the south, Middlesex County to the west and a very small portion of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire to the far north west in Methuen. All county land is incorporated into towns or cities.

Essex County includes the North Shore, Cape Ann, and the lower portions of the Merrimack Valley.


National protected areas[edit]

Historical population
Est. 2012755,6181.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[3]
2012 Estimate[4]

Because of Essex County's rich history, which includes 17th century colonial history, maritime history spanning its existence, and leadership in the expansions of the textile industry in the 19th century, the entire county has been designated the Essex National Heritage Area by the National Park Service.

The following areas of national significance have also been preserved:


As of the census[5] of 2010, there were 743,159 people, 306,754 households, and 185,081 families residing in the county. The population density was 1508.8 people per square mile (558/km²). There were 287,144 housing units at an average density of 574 per square mile (221/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 76.0% White, 3.8% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 3.1% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 6.20% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. 16.5% of the population is Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.4% were of Irish, 15.1% Italian, 9.9% English, 5.6% French and 5.0% French Canadian ancestry according to Census 2010. 80.8% spoke English, 10.2% Spanish, 1.4% French, 1.2% Italian and 1.0% Portuguese as their first language. Essex County has been becoming increasingly diverse in recent years. By 2050, it is predicted that whites will become the minority.[6] There were 275,419 households out of which 32.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.10% were married couples living together, 12.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.80% were non-families. 27.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.20% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 30.30% from 25 to 44, 23.10% from 45 to 64, and 13.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $51,576, and the median income for a family was $63,746. Males had a median income of $44,569 versus $32,369 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,358. About 6.60% of families and 8.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.90% of those under age 18 and 8.90% of those age 65 or over.

Demographic breakdown by town[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.[7][8][9]

RankTownPer capita
PopulationNumber of
5West NewburyTown$52,882$104,931$123,2374,2221,497
10North AndoverTown$47,092$95,199$121,56328,15610,223
Essex CountyCounty$34,858$65,785$83,047739,505284,940
United StatesCountry$27,915$52,762$64,293306,603,772114,761,359

Cities and towns[edit]

The towns and cities of Essex County are listed below. They are incorporated under the current laws of the State of Massachusetts, even though in a number of cases the incorporation was accepted as a legacy from Massachusetts Bay Colony. A large number of traditionally recognized places are not. They are not listed here but may be in the articles for the incorporated places. All the territory of the state is under the jurisdiction of a city or town.

The list does not utilize the terminology of the U. S. Census Bureau, which is defined decannually.[10] For example, the census-designated place (CDP) may or may not be comparable to any single municipality on the list. CDP's change frequently. The Bureau collects data on discrete populations defined to be appropriate to its mission at the time of the census. There is not necessarily a regard for political or traditional subdivisions, although those subdivisions typically play a major role.

The cities and towns on this list officially consider themselves to be so and are defined to be so by the laws of the State of Massachusetts. As government at the county level was dissolved in Essex County in 1999, the cities and towns are directly subordinate to the state. The county still plays a role in administrative districting by various governmental agencies in Massachusetts. Subordinate places may be defined by them on any basis, except that they have no separate corporate existence under those names.

  • City of Amesbury, incorporated 1666 from Salisbury.
  • Town of Andover, incorporated in 1646.
  • City of Beverly, incorporated 1668 from Salem.
  • Town of Boxford, incorporated 1685 from Rowley.
  • Town of Danvers, incorporated 1757 from Salem.
  • Town of Essex, incorporated 1819 from Ipswich.
  • Town of Georgetown, incorporated 1838 from Rowley.
  • City of Gloucester, settled 1623.
  • Town of Groveland, incorporated 1850 from Bradford.
  • Town of Hamilton, incorporated 1793 from Ipswich.
  • City of Haverhill, founded 1640.
  • Town of Ipswich, established 1634.
  • City of Lawrence incorporated 1847 from Methuen and Andover.
  • City of Lynn, established 1629, named Lynn 1637.
  • Town of Lynnfield, incorporated 1814 from Lynn.
  • Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, incorporated 1645.
  • Town of Marblehead, incorporated 1635.
  • Town of Merrimac incorporated 1876 from Amesbury.
  • City of Methuen incorporated 1725 from Haverhill.
  • Town of Middleton incorporated 1728 from surrounding towns—Salem, Topsfield, Andover, etc.
  • Town of Nahant incorporated 1853 from Lynn.
  • Town of Newbury founded 1635.
  • City of Newburyport incorporated 1764 from Newbury.
  • Town of North Andover (original North Andover Parish), incorporated April 7, 1855.
  • City of Peabody, incorporated 1855 from Danvers.
  • Town of Rockport, incorporated 1840 from Gloucester.
  • Town of Rowley, founded 1639.
  • City of Salem, founded 1626.
  • Town of Salisbury, established 1640.
  • Town of Saugus, incorporated 1815 from Lynn.
  • Town of Swampscott, incorporated 1852 from Lynn.
  • Town of Topsfield, established 1650.
  • Town of Wenham, settled 1638.
  • Town of West Newbury, incorporated 1819 from Newbury.


Presidential elections results
201241.1% 150,48057.4% 210,302
200838.8% 137,12959.1% 208,976
200440.5% 135,11458.2% 194,068
200035.4% 110,01057.5% 178,400
199630.6% 89,12058.7% 171,021
199231.7% 102,21243.6% 140,593
198848.6% 148,61449.7% 151,816
198454.8% 162,15244.8% 132,353
198043.8% 130,25239.0% 116,173
197641.6% 125,53855.0% 165,710
197246.5% 138,04053.0% 157,324
196835.4% 99,72161.0% 171,901
196425.3% 71,65373.4% 210,135
196042.9% 126,59956.9% 167,875
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 13, 2010[11]
PartyNumber of VotersPercentage
 Minor Parties2,6190.55%


Essex County is home to numerous libraries and schools, both public and private.


Secondary education[edit]

Public Schools[edit]

Technical Schools[edit]

Private Schools[edit]

Higher education[edit]

Essex National Heritage Area[edit]

On November 12, 1996, Essex National Heritage Area (ENHA) was authorized by Congress. The heritage area consists of all of Essex County, MA a 500-square-mile (1,300 km2) area between the Atlantic Coast and the Merrimack Valley. The area includes 34 cities and towns; two National Historic Sites (Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site); and thousands of historic sites and districts that illuminate colonial settlement, the development of the shoe and textile industries, and the growth and decline of the maritime industries — including fishing, privateering, and the China trade.[12] The Essex National Heritage Area is one of 49 heritage areas designated by Congress, affiliated with the National Park Service.

The Essex National Heritage Commission is a non-profit organization chartered to promote tourism and cultural awareness of the area, connecting people to the places of Essex County, MA. The Commission's mission is to promote and preserve the historic, cultural and natural resources of the ENHA. This is accomplished through the commission's projects and programs which include; Partnership Grant Program, Explorers membership program, Photo Safaris, and the annual September weekend event 'Trails & Sails' as well as other important regional partnership building projects like the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway, and the Border to Boston trail.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Davis, William T. Bench and Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, p. 44. The Boston History Company, 1895.
  3. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "The Map of America’s Tomorrow – A Visualization of the Changing Face of America". Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "ACS DEMOGRAPHIC AND HOUSING ESTIMATES 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "Massachusetts". United States Census Bureau. 2011.  This site states the definitons in use for the 2010 census.
  11. ^ "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 13, 2010" (PDF). Massachusetts Elections Division. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  12. ^ The National Parks: Index 2001-2003, Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, p. 104.


Essex County References

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]



Other sites[edit]

Coordinates: 42°38′N 70°52′W / 42.64°N 70.87°W / 42.64; -70.87