Talk:Amherst, Massachusetts

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Hey all, I am the WikiProject Cities assessor of this article. If you would like commentary, just give me a heads up! --Starstriker7(Say hior see my works) 05:22, 20 September 2008 (UTC)


Any idea why the town's date of incorporation is listed in this article as either 1776 (in the body) or 1775 (in the info box), when the charter of incorporation was granted by the colony's governor in 1759? The fact that Amherst is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year (also noted in the article) should have made this clear. Unless there's some compelling reason not to do so, I'm going to change the relevant dates... SGilsdorf (talk) 02:48, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

I checked the article history, and though it was added long long ago, the person who added it was an anon user who didn't make any edits any day but that one. Please do fix the dates. LWizard @ 04:15, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

Uma Thurmon[edit]

She lived in Amherst. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:30, 17 November 2008 (UTC)


I live in Massachusetts and frequently visit Amherst and I argue that the "h" is indeed pronounced by its natives. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .

I live in Amherst, and am quite certain that it is not. Perhaps some UMass students from elsewhere in the state mispronounce it, but the actual residents ("townies") pronounce the name without the h. The same h-less pronounciation is mentioned in the Amherst College article. LWizard @ 03:52, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
I too live in Amherst, and the h is definitely not pronounced by, as LizardWizard says, actual residents. Many people make this mistake, however, and I do know that several of the other "Amherst"s around the northeast US and Canada pronounce the h. When I say "know" I mean I'm pretty sure they do. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense not to pronounce it, but that's the way it is. Do you really think we could or would make something like that up? -GlamdringCookies 07:05, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
I am a native of Amherst, and I can assure you the proper pronunciation is without an "h". I once heard a story that a professor was denied tenure at UMass for not learning this fact, but that's probably apocryphal.
When listening to people speak, it is impossible to know who is a 60-year resident and native of the town, who is just passing through, or who is an, ahem, know-it-all college student who thinks they know what "townies" do and don't do. Unless you know EVERY SINGLE native or townie of the town, you cannot say that the "h" is not pronounced. Some people do, some don't. It's like the Boston dialect. There are people who have lived in Boston their whole lives, and do not speak with a regional dialect, while their next door neighboors show all the signs of it. This is far more complicated than saying "it's officially pronounced as x." You may want to take this issue up with John_McCarthy_(linguist). I'm sure he'd have an opinion. Until then, it's best not to write a definitive statement. Crunch 19:29, 22 July 2006 (UTC)
The pronunciation issue was debated briefly on the Talk:Amherst College page as well, and we agreed that since the College was named for the Town, pronunciation necessarily followed. It's a slippery issue, particularly in New England, given that one's manner of speaking can be used, shibboleth-like, to judge one (the professor denied tenure is probably apocryphal, but there's a kernel of truth there: there are people who will think you uneducated if you don't pronounce things "correctly" from their point of view.) I've been a resident of the town, both as a student and as a taxpayer, I don't use the 'h', but I've heard people use it; I find that if I use it, I get mail addressed to "Amhurst, MA." Pjmorse 21:15, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Another important point to consider is that use of the New England dialect is changing. I'm a Boston native and do not speak with the New England dialect. I have no idea why this is in my case. In response to Pjmorse: I wasn't sure that paying taxes affected one's dialect, but now that you mention it, my latest property tax bill did render me speechless for a minute or two! And if you don't use the "h," is your mail addressed to "Amyrst, MA" ? In any case, it looks like the compromise wording currently used in the article is a good one. Crunch 16:14, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree, the compromise wording is good. On another note, it's a bit disingenuous to agree to wording "currently in the article" moments before changing the wording. LWizard @ 18:19, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
I would go so far as to suggest that you probably do speak with a New England accent, by the way. Do father and bother rhyme? AJD 22:59, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
I moved to Pelham in 1973 and lived there and in Amherst until the late 1990s. In all that time, I never met a single person who pronounced the "h" except total newcomers, who were promptly corrected. The "h" is silent. The fact that some people mispronounce the name does not render it a valid pronunciation, any more than the fact that some pronounce "nuclear" as "nook-yoo-ler" makes that a valid pronunciation.
I'm strongly inclined to rephrase the section from "name of the town is pronounced by long-time residents..." to "the name of the town is properly pronounced..."
Septegram 15:23, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
Since no one offered a substantive reason not to (or any reason, for that matter), I went ahead and made the change.
Septegram 21:15, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

I would be inclined to leave the compromised wording as it was. While I agree with you that it is the proper pronunciation, some people might disagree. Who's to say what the proper pronunciation is? Refering to it as the pronunciation used by long-time residents implies that they consider it the proper one, and one might reason that theirs is the highest authority. What I'm saying is, the compromise wording implies the definitiveness that you're looking for, while still leaving room for those worthy people who disagree. I'm not going to change it back, but if anyone gets upset, perhaps it would be a good fallback position. -GlamdringCookies 22:03, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

I see your point, but there is a correct pronunciation. The correct pronunciation of the town Beaulieu in England is "BYOO-lee," despite the fact that it is obviously from the French (in which it would be pronounced something like "bow-lyew"). While I consider that to be an abominable abuse of the word, I pronounce it that way because that is the correct (native) pronunciation. Similarly, the correct pronunciation of "Amherst" is without the "h." Looking over the discussion, I see that only one person even "argued" that the "h" is pronounced. Several residents (or, in my case, former residents) have stated quite forcefully that the "h" is silent. I don't see any reason to be other than definitive here.
(a homesick) Septegram 22:38, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

Okay. But who says that it's the correct pronunciation? And "everyone!" isn't an acceptable answer, because just because everyone does something doesn't make it right. Or does it, in this case? At what percentage of people disagreeing does it become no longer correct? I prefer to not think in terms of "correct" and "incorrect" at all; it's more supportable and doesn't hurt anyone's feelings. But y'know, everyone I know from Amherst says it that way, so who am I to argue. -GlamdringCookies 05:29, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

In a case like this, I'd say that if everyone who lives there says "x" is the pronunciation, that makes it the correct pronunciation de facto, if not de jure. While I, too, have concern for people's feelings, sometimes accuracy has to take precedence. Some people's feelings are hurt if they see the age of the Earth listed as more than ~6,000 years, but that doesn't mean we weasel-word the Wikipedia entry on the Earth.
However, in the interests of certainty, I'll check with the town and see if there's a definitive source (preferably online) that I can use as a reference.
Septegram 13:43, 18 October 2006 (UTC)
Town website does not have a definitive statement about the pronunciation. I checked with the Town Hall, and they confirmed the pronunciation, but confirmed that the website does not specifically state the pronunciation.
Four external URLs, including the BBC and excluding ones which were obviously copied from Wikipedia, confirm the pronunciation. I added them to the pronunciation section, and hope this will set this "debate" to rest.
Septegram 16:22, 18 October 2006 (UTC)
Rock. Props for the research. -GlamdringCookies 19:11, 18 October 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. They're not exactly authoritative sites (the town and the Chamber of Commerce both inconsiderately neglect to provide the correct pronunciation), but the number of them seemed sufficient to me.
Septegram 19:38, 18 October 2006 (UTC)
Agree with the kudos on the research, but I trimmed one because it was just a copy of the Amherst College page (and an old one, at that.) It looks like the graph may need some rearranging now, with three refs in one location and another coming at the end of the sentence? It looks like the reference to is going to talk about other towns named Amherst. (And I'd just as soon lose the link to; as a contributor to the site, I don't mind seeing links to it, but I don't think we're an authority on this matter.) - Pjmorse 02:44, 19 October 2006 (UTC)
My bad on the link; thanks for catching that. I usually edit from work, so sometimes I get a bit rushed. I'm going to let someone else decide about the link, although the site's header says "Amherst College news and discussion from the Pioneer Valley and around the world," so I'm not sure there's going to be much about other Amhersts there.
When I get a minute, I'm going to look over's contributions, one or two of which seem a little dodgy. Zie started this whole foofooraw, so I got curious as to what else zie had been up to.
Septegram 13:38, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

From an Amherst Native: Having grown up in Amherst and even attended college here, the h in Amherst is NOT pronounced unless someone is still new to the town.

Ditto. I too grew up in Amherst. I lived there from 1967 to 1991. I have degrees from both Amherst College and UMass-Amherst. My family still lives there; my uncle is a professor at the college, and my mother taught elementary school there for 27 years. I visit every six weeks or so. The silent "h" is, in my experience, universal.

I'm changing "is pronounced" to "is usually pronounced" again. As someone who's spent a lot of time in Amherst I can confirm that residents and most other people pronounce it without the H. As Wikipedia is not in the business of dictating proper pronunciation, however, we should acknowledge that many people do pronounce the town's name with an H. Whether this pronunciation is judged to be correct or incorrect is irrelevant. Rhobite 05:35, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia shouldn't be in the business of qualifying every statement. Our soccer article says "it is played on a rectangular grass field", even though many people (perhaps ones who don't know better) play it on a variety of other surfaces in other shapes.
Wikipedia is in the business of dictating proper pronunciation: see Euler - the pronunciation is practically the very first thing in the article. Who's to say how Euler is pronounced? I mean, yes, we know how Euler himself pronounced it, and how his parents intended it to be pronounced, and how it makes sense to be pronounced in German (all the same way), but all over the country hundreds, nay, thousands, of people are "mis"pronouncing it (pronouncing it an alternative way, I should say). How can we just blithely say "pronounced Oiler"?
I don't see a substantive difference between the pronunciation of Euler and Amherst. If you can get Euler changed to say "usually pronounced Oiler but often pronounced Yooler", then I will reconsider. Until then, I see no point in adding the note that many people do something improperly. LWizard @ 11:00, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Only in an academic community would so much hot air be expended on the "correct" pronuciation and so liitle on actual factual content. Next, we'll have a big debate as to whether the coffee shop (Rao's) is pronounced with one syllable or two. (My two cents: everyone I know who's a native or a resident of more than 20 years time does not pronounce the 'h'. Therefore, regardless of what is correct or not, saying the 'h' will mark you as a recent transplant. Modified the text of the article to reflect this.) Ken K 14:46, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

For me (and it was I who removed "properly" yesterday), the issue about that qualifier is that it's superfluous. What's the difference between saying "Amherst is properly (or usually) pronounced with the h silent" and "Amherst is pronounced with the h silent"? Yes, the former acknowledges that people frequently mispronounce it, but they have equal authoritativeness, it seems to me. I think a clearer way of including the fact that people mispronounce it is to include a sentence or clause saying as much. Can we just do that and end this ridiculously long kerfuffle? -GlamdringCookies 16:36, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
Go wild. Add the sentence! The current "The name of the town is pronounced (by natives and long-time residents)" smells weasel-wordy to me, as it leaves open the possibility that this is merely a preference rather than the correct pronunciation (see my comment on the pronunciation of Beaulieu,_HampshireBeaulieu). Putting in a reference to mispronunciation will settle that nicely. There is such a thing as the correct pronunciation, however much some people want to say otherwise. I have spoken.
Septegram 18:54, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Other Issues[edit]

I deleted the snippet about the Horse Caves being a hideout for Shays' men after their defeat at the hands of the Massachusetts militia, as the full entry on Shays' Rebellion does not mention this and the story told there does not suggest that hiding out in Amherst would have been likely. Actual cites to independent research would be valuable. Ken K 14:46, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

The summation of the total land area and the total water area does not match the total area due to rounding. It would be nice to clean this up. --Bikestats (talk) 14:07, 20 June 2013 (UTC)


anyone know about the quality of healthcare in amherst for poor people? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:03, 10 December 2006 (UTC).

James Tate[edit]

I just reverted an edit which suggested (among irrelevancies) that James Tate (which link I disambiguated) lives in Leverett, not Amherst. (I think that's what they meant; they misspelled "Leverett".) Anyone know any better? According to Tate's page, he's teaching at UMass, which makes Leverett residency as likely as Amherst. --Pjmorse 13:50, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

  • It's funny, 'cause I was just in Rao's for a long time today. Sorry, tangential....well, I don't know for sure, but doing Google searches of James tate amherst, ma and James tate leverett, ma, the former comes up with a phone/address result, whereas the latter does not. My guess, therefore, is that he in fact does live in Amherst, not Leverett. -GlamdringCookies 21:08, 21 December 2006 (UTC)


I just reverted an [edit] by Nutmegger removing the category University towns in the United States. I see no reason for this category to be removed: Amherst is a university (or college, if you prefer) town in the United States, having UMASS, Amherst College, and Hampshire College all within its borders. Much of the town's economy is driven by these schools and its character is strongly influenced by them.

Obviously, if Nutmegger has a reason for the deletion, I'm more than happy to be undone.

*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 14:51, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Amherst State of Mind[edit]

Living in Amherst can affect anyone's life. Whether someone has lived here their whole life or moved here recently, the natural environment conveys a sense of thinking and knowledge that only Amherst provides. The number of college students compared to the number of residents is about even, balancing out at close to 18,000 each. With so many different people in such a small area (27.8 square miles) there's no wonder why diversity is so welcomed and supported. That could very well be a reason why people move here in the first place. The level of education is high in Amherst… and so is everyone else.

After living in Amherst my whole life, I've learned a few things about the type of people here and what living here can do to someone. When I was a young boy I didn't really pick up on the things that make Amherst such a thriving, different town than anywhere else. But now it's quite clear that I live in a town full of pot smoking hippies. I used to wonder why everyone was so liberal and open minded here. I thought perhaps that the Amherst town government found a way to keep the population so soft by means of diluting drinking water, or emitting poisonous gasses. But no, Amherst is so liberal because at least half of the residents are high all day and “just want peace mannn”.

What else comes with being a hippy, uh I mean being an Amherst resident? Well there's really a whole lifestyle involved. The normal Amherst resident will eat an abundance of granola, vegetables, nuts, and yogurt. Meat is frowned upon. Just the other day in school I was asked what my favorite food was. I answered steak, and I looked up to a room full of disgust and horror from my classmates. A school lunch for the average student might consist of a plain yogurt with granola from whole foods, pesto heated up in the microwave; don't forget a Luna Bar, and water out of a metal bottle. These metal bottles have taken Amherst by storm and even I own one now. Another aspect of the Amherst food culture is eating the native food of another country at least once a week. There are roughly ten Asian restaurants in Amherst, three Central/South American restaurants, and even an African restaurant, which all get frequent business. I can't even count the pizza restaurants there are so many. I guess there's so much food like this because there's a constant case of the munchies going around.

People eat, sleep, and breathe in ultimate Frisbee in Amherst. It pains me deeply to call it a sport, but I have to give it a little respect, I suppose, because so many students and parents alike are so infatuated by it. Ultimate is the ultimate Amherst sport (it's actually not a sport but a club…yessss). It goes along with the hippy lifestyle--I believe the prerequisites for playing include having long hair, smoking pot, getting your fill from granola, and being a raging liberal. Oh my god, ultimate Frisbee really is the most liberal game that one can find. There are no refs, but instead players call their own fouls and teams sing songs to each other when the games over. Aw, isn't that so sweet?

Okay, so it's pretty obvious that a lot of people like smoking pot in Amherst. My cousin from Texas calls Amherst "The Amsterdam of the U.S." So is it much of a surprise that there's one day that people can go to the Amherst commons and smoke weed all day? At first I thought it was preposterous. But then once I got more aware of the Amherst lifestyle I understood it more. On this day (this year it's on April 17th) called Extravaganja, people gather together and sit on the common until sun down just smoking, free from persecution. I actually have no idea how this started, no idea why the cops don't do anything, but ask anyone else and they'll say something like, "Only in Amherst." And this is really a true statement. Where else will you find a holiday devoted to smoking of the great cannabis sativa?

Let's focus on schools now. The level of school spirit in Amherst is incredibly low. Sporting events are somewhat of a joke, and the spirit week literally makes me throw up-- literally. Instead of going to a football game, the majority of students would rather go to a school produced play. These plays are honestly all horrible and all the same. Sorry, but I hate them. And if you thought the liberalism was limited to adults and ultimate players think again. Most schools will have fights at least once a week. When fights start here there are at least 30 kids trying to break it up within one tenth of a second saying, "Hey mannn that's really not cool mannn. Why don't we all just smoke this pot and be friends?" The news of the fight will travel around the school and back before the first punch is even landed; it's actually ridiculous.

That is Amherst in a nutshell. Tree-hugging, Granola-eating hippies obsessed with equality and liberalism down to the last worm, running around with Frisbees trying to get high before a play. Surprisingly, my family seems to be unaffected by all of this, having lived in Amherst their whole lives. My dad, who works for the Department of Public Works, is a man who enjoys simple things in life; a cold beer when he comes home, a bit of meat on his plate at night. We cook on our grill in the winter, halfway out of the garage, and use a ride on mower for just over a half acre of property. If I asked my dad if he's ever had a Luna Bar he might respond with something like, “A what kind of bar? The only bar I go to is at the VFW!” Four people live in our house and four cars crowd the driveway, one of which is a small red dump truck, and none of which are hybrids. It just goes to show that some people can live in one place and not take in any of the elements that radiate out of it.


A climate section would be useful. I don't know how to access the information to add one, though. --N-k (talk) 13:24, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

Population information[edit]

The article mentions population numbers from "the 2008 US Census," which obviously does not exist. I presume the person who added it meant the 2000 census, but I'm hesitant to make the change without knowing for sure. Le fantome de l'opera (talk) 18:03, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

The census bureau does seem to publish some new data yearly or bi-yearly. I'd guess it's from that, so recommend against changing willy-nilly. LWizard @ 06:53, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

"Shays's" Rebellion? Really?[edit]

I know Chicago Manual style is to use "Shays's," and I agree with that 99 percent of the time, but in this case it is kind of ridiculous. Pronunciation should be our guide. Nobody says "Shays's." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Beatnik Party (talkcontribs) 06:37, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

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