Amherst, Massachusetts facts for kids

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Amherst, Massachusetts
Town
Amherst Center.  Shops along the west side of South Pleasant Street, February 2005.
Amherst Center. 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
Location in Hampshire County in Massachusetts
Location in Hampshire County in Massachusetts
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Hampshire
Settled 1703
Incorporated 1759
Area
 • Total 27.8 sq mi (71.9 km2)
 • Land 27.7 sq mi (71.8 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 295 ft (90 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 37,819
 • Density 1,365.3/sq mi (526.7/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 01002, 01003 (UMass), 01004, 01059 (North Amherst post office)
Area code(s) 413
FIPS code 25-01325
GNIS feature ID 0618195
Website www.amherstma.gov

Amherst (Listeni/ˈæmərst/) 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. The name of the town is pronounced without the h ("AM-erst"), 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.

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

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. 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.

Amherst was first visited by Europeans as early as 1665 when Nathaniel Dickinson (the great great grandfather of poet, Emily Dickinson) surveyed the lands for its mothertown Hadley. The first permanent English settlements arrived in 1727. 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". For this reason, there have been occasional ad hoc movements to rename the town. Suggested new names have included "Emily", after Emily Dickinson.

Geography and climate

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 [[ 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).

Amherst has a humid continental climate that under the Köppen system marginally falls into the warm-summer category (dfb). It is interchangeable with the hot-summer subtype dfa with July means hovering around 71.4 °F (21.9 °C). Winters are cold and snowy, albeit daytime temperatures often remain above freezing.

Climate data for Amherst, Massachusetts (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 70
(21.1)
70
(21.1)
85
(29.4)
93
(33.9)
98
(36.7)
101
(38.3)
104
(40)
100
(37.8)
99
(37.2)
90
(32.2)
82
(27.8)
72
(22.2)
104
(40)
Average high °F (°C) 34.6
(1.44)
38.3
(3.5)
46.5
(8.06)
59.4
(15.22)
70.2
(21.22)
78.7
(25.94)
83.4
(28.56)
81.9
(27.72)
74.5
(23.61)
62.3
(16.83)
50.8
(10.44)
39.2
(4)
59.98
(15.546)
Average low °F (°C) 13.2
(-10.44)
16.2
(-8.78)
24.4
(-4.22)
34.6
(1.44)
44.8
(7.11)
54.7
(12.61)
59.3
(15.17)
57.6
(14.22)
49.2
(9.56)
37.4
(3)
29.7
(-1.28)
20.0
(-6.67)
36.76
(2.644)
Record low °F (°C) -30
(-34.4)
-27
(-32.8)
-17
(-27.2)
8
(-13.3)
24
(-4.4)
29
(-1.7)
39
(3.9)
32
(0)
25
(-3.9)
12
(-11.1)
-4
(-20)
-22
(-30)
-30
(-34.4)
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) 10.2 8.6 10.1 10.9 12.5 11.5 10.4 10.0 9.0 9.8 10.2 10.1 123.3
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 5.5 4.0 2.7 .4 0 0 0 0 0 .1 1.0 3.4 17.1
Source: NOAA

Demographics

Amherst Massachusetts
UMass, looking southeast
Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1790 1,233 —    
1800 1,258 +2.0%
1810 1,469 +16.8%
1820 1,917 +30.5%
1830 2,631 +37.2%
1840 2,550 −3.1%
1850 3,057 +19.9%
1860 3,206 +4.9%
1870 4,035 +25.9%
1880 4,298 +6.5%
1890 4,512 +5.0%
1900 5,028 +11.4%
1910 5,112 +1.7%
1920 5,550 +8.6%
1930 5,883 +6.0%
1940 6,410 +9.0%
1950 10,856 +69.4%
1960 13,718 +26.4%
1970 26,331 +91.9%
1980 33,229 +26.2%
1990 35,228 +6.0%
2000 34,874 −1.0%
2010 37,819 +8.4%

Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.

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. Of all households 28.6% 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.

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.

Income

See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income

Data is from the 2009–2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

Rank ZIP Code (ZCTA) Per capita
income
Median
household
income
Median
family
income
Population Number of
households
Massachusetts $35,763 $66,866 $84,900 6,605,058 2,530,147
Hampshire County $29,460 $61,227 $81,385 159,267 58,828
United States $28,155 $53,046 $64,719 311,536,594 115,610,216
1 01002 $27,691 $54,422 $96,929 29,266 9,248
Amherst $19,796 $53,191 $96,733 38,651 8,583
2 01003 (UMass Amherst Campus) $3,531 $N/A $N/A 11,032 16
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 18, 2006
Party Total Voters Percentage
Democratic 8,350 49.18%
Republican 1,076 6.34%
Unaffiliated 7,228 42.57%
Other Parties 326 1.92%
Total 16,980 100%

Transportation

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, funded by local governments and the Five College Consortium, provides public transportation in the area, operated by University of Massachusetts Transportation Services. Service runs well into the early morning hours on weekends when school is in session. Students attending any colleges in the Five Colleges Consortium have a fee included in their tuition bills (service fee for UMass Amherst students and student activity fees for the other colleges) for each semester that prepays their bus fares for the semester. UMass Transit buses operate via a proof-of-payment system, in which there are random checks of student identification cards and bus passes and transfers.

Peter Pan Bus Lines provides service between Amherst and Springfield, Boston, and other locations in New England. Megabus provides service between New York City, Amherst, and Burlington, Vermont.

Amtrak rail service is available in nearby Northampton on the Vermonter service between Washington D.C. and St. Albans, Vermont. More frequent Amtrak service to New York City and Washington, D.C. is available from Union Station in 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, Westover Metropolitan Airport, and Turners Falls Airport.

Sister cities

Points of interest

  • Amherst Center Cultural District, formed in 2016
  • Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Amherst Cinema Arts Center: a local non-profit theater showing mostly arthouse and independent films
  • Beneski Museum of Natural History, including the Hitchcock Ichnological Cabinet
  • Emily Dickinson Museum, birthplace and lifelong residence of poet Emily Dickinson, now a museum. She is buried nearby in West Cemetery on Triangle Street.
  • Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
  • Mead Art Museum at Amherst College: 18,000 items with a particular strength in American art
  • Theodore Baird Residence, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright
  • W. E. B. Du Bois Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst: the tallest academic library in the United States
  • Yiddish Book Center

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