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.
Founded 1685
Seat Pittsfield
Largest city Pittsfield
Area
 • Total 946 sq mi (2,450 km2)
 • Land 931 sq mi (2,411 km2)
 • Water 15 sq mi (39 km2), 1.59%
Population
 • (2010) 131,219
 • Density 141/sq mi (54/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: 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]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
  Democratic 33,293 37.63%
  Republican 8,420 9.52%
  Unaffiliated 46,089 51.52%
  Minor Parties 669 0.76%
Total 88,471 100%

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.

  • First Berkshire. - Consisting of the towns of Adams, Clarksburg, Florida, North Adams, Savoy and Williamstown, all in the county of Berkshire; and the towns of Charlemont, Hawley, Heath, Monroe and Rowe, all in the county of Franklin. Gailanne Cariddi (D) is the current Representative.
  • Second Berkshire. - Consisting of the towns of Becket, Cheshire, Dalton, Hancock, Hinsdale, Lanesborough, New Ashford, Peru, Richmond, Washington and Windsor, and precinct B of ward 1, of the city of Pittsfield, all in the county of Berkshire; the towns of Ashfield, Bernardston, Buckland, Colrain, Leyden, Northfield and Shelburne, all in the county of Franklin; and the towns of Cummington, Middlefield and Plainfield, all in the county of Hampshire. Paul Mark (D) is the current Representative.
  • Third Berkshire. - Consisting of precinct A of ward 1, all precincts of wards 2, 3, 4, precinct A of ward 5, and all precincts of wards 6 and 7, of the city of Pittsfield, in the county of Berkshire. Christopher N. Speranzo (D), was the Representative, but has left for another position. A special election to fill his unexpired term has Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D) as the current representative.
  • Fourth Berkshire. - Consisting of the towns of Alford, Egremont, Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Marlborough, Otis, precinct 5B of the city of Pittsfield, the towns of Sandisfield, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Tyringham and West Stockbridge, all in the county of Berkshire; and the towns of Blandford, Chester and Tolland, all in the county of Hampden. William Smitty Pignatelli (D), is the current Representative.

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
Census Pop.
1790 30,263
1800 33,885 12.0%
1810 35,907 6.0%
1820 35,720 −0.5%
1830 37,835 5.9%
1840 41,745 10.3%
1850 49,591 18.8%
1860 55,120 11.1%
1870 64,827 17.6%
1880 69,032 6.5%
1890 81,108 17.5%
1900 95,667 18.0%
1910 105,259 10.0%
1920 113,033 7.4%
1930 120,700 6.8%
1940 122,273 1.3%
1950 132,966 8.7%
1960 142,135 6.9%
1970 149,402 5.1%
1980 145,110 −2.9%
1990 139,352 −4.0%
2000 134,953 −3.2%
2010 131,219 −2.8%
Est. 2012 130,016 −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]

Rank Town Per capita
income
Median
household
income
Median
family
income
Population Number of
households
1 Tyringham Town $55,836 $94,375 $126,875 358 149
2 Richmond Town $51,808 $88,125 $94,423 1,671 702
3 Alford Town $49,272 $85,833 $102,750 501 232
4 Otis Town $44,085 $63,672 $70,547 1,248 571
5 Mount Washington Town $40,073 $68,750 $69,688 150 64
6 Williamstown Town $39,451 $72,743 $97,060 7,828 2,859
7 Egremont Town $39,236 $50,848 $66,500 1,043 529
8 Becket Town $37,233 $41,852 $62,823 1,775 790
Lenox CDP $37,192 $48,158 $62,569 1,349 782
9 Sheffield Town $36,640 $52,181 $75,000 3,255 1,464
10 New Ashford Town $35,676 $63,854 $75,750 225 109
11 West Stockbridge Town $35,092 $75,543 $97,784 1,573 640
12 Great Barrington Town $34,585 $48,561 $73,369 7,131 2,792
13 Cheshire Town $34,413 $56,597 $74,250 3,245 1,408
14 Lenox Town $33,405 $54,622 $74,844 5,013 2,084
Housatonic CDP $33,281 $28,837 $27,448 1,024 556
15 Windsor Town $33,234 $74,866 $99,091 902 321
16 Lanesborough Town $33,058 $66,071 $82,400 3,074 1,240
17 Washington Town $32,501 $69,286 $71,250 583 240
18 New Marlborough Town $32,451 $67,528 $68,750 1,499 591
19 Monterey Town $32,404 $42,083 $47,625 793 302
20 Stockbridge Town $31,821 $53,698 $69,038 1,755 765
Williamstown CDP $31,808 $46,622 $100,833 3,652 1,312
21 Sandisfield Town $31,746 $60,104 $69,706 985 381
22 Hinsdale Town $30,753 $62,596 $71,442 2,136 860
23 Hancock Town $29,851 $78,571 $79,911 713 254
Berkshire County County $29,387 $48,705 $64,393 131,221 55,793
Great Barrington CDP $28,282 $40,393 $66,500 2,464 1,021
24 Lee Town $28,270 $51,835 $67,407 5,932 2,486
25 Peru Town $28,080 $68,523 $72,344 863 337
26 Savoy Town $27,725 $58,068 $58,452 706 293
Lee CDP $27,549 $43,750 $70,417 1,843 874
27 Dalton Town $26,854 $52,285 $61,739 6,753 2,663
28 Pittsfield City $26,767 $44,513 $57,673 44,691 19,966
29 Florida Town $25,666 $46,458 $58,281 719 337
Adams CDP $25,096 $38,256 $46,554 5,367 2,508
30 Clarksburg Town $25,013 $54,095 $61,836 1,844 727
31 Adams Town $24,423 $39,080 $46,021 8,494 3,770
32 North Adams City $20,330 $36,424 $51,028 13,763 5,867
Cheshire CDP $14,088 $47,361 $56,125 610 209

Politics[edit]

Presidential election results[11]
Year Democratic Republican
2012 75.8% 48,596 22.2% 14,209
2008 74.9% 49,558 22.5% 14,876
2004 73.1% 47,743 25.7% 16,806
2000 63.9% 37,934 26.6% 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.

North: Bennington County, Vermont
West: Rensselaer County, New York Berkshire County East: Franklin County, Massachusetts
West: Columbia County, New York East: Hampshire County, Massachusetts
East: Hampden County, Massachusetts
South: Litchfield County, Connecticut°

°: 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