Berkshire County, Massachusetts facts for kids

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Berkshire County, Massachusetts
Seal of Berkshire County, Massachusetts
Map
Map of Massachusetts highlighting Berkshire County
Location in the state of Massachusetts
Map of the USA highlighting Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location in the U.S.
Statistics
Founded April 24, 1761
Seat Pittsfield
Largest City Pittsfield
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

946 sq mi (2,450 km²)
927 sq mi (2,401 km²)
20 sq mi (52 km²), 2.1%
PopulationEst.
 - (2015)
 - Density

126,715
136/sq mi (53/km²)
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Bashbish 002
Bash Bish Falls, in the Berkshire Hills, Appalachian Mountains
Berkshires in Winter
The Berkshire Hills, part of the Appalachian Mountains, in winter

Berkshire County, pronounced /bərkʃər/, is a county located on the western edge of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the population was 131,219. Its largest city and traditional county seat is Pittsfield. The county was founded in 1761.

The Berkshire Hills are centered on Berkshire County, and the county itself is often referred to simply as the Berkshires. It exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 946 square miles (2,450 km2), of which 927 square miles (2,400 km2) is land and 20 square miles (52 km2) (2.1%) is water. It is the second-largest county in Massachusetts by land area. 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

Demographics

Historical populations
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. 2014 128,715 −4.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015

2000 census

As of the census 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.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 131,219 people, 56,091 households, and 33,618 families residing in the county. The population density was 141.6 inhabitants per square mile (54.7/km2). There were 68,508 housing units at an average density of 73.9 per square mile (28.5/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 92.5% white, 2.7% black or African American, 1.2% Asian, 0.2% American Indian, 1.2% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 3.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 23.5% were Irish, 16.9% were Italian, 14.3% were English, 12.1% were German, 9.6% were Polish, and 3.0% were American.

Of the 56,091 households, 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.9% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 40.1% were non-families, and 33.0% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.82. The median age was 44.7 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $48,907 and the median income for a family was $64,783. Males had a median income of $47,401 versus $35,964 for females. The per capita income for the county was $28,300. About 7.9% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.5% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.

Demographic breakdown by town

Income

See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income

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.

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 1,702 727
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

History

The Mahican (Muh-he-ka-neew) Native American tribe lived in the area that now makes up Berkshire County until the early 18th century, when the first English settlers and frontiersmen appeared 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.” This deal did not include modern Sheffield, Stockbridge, Richmond, and Lenox, which were added later. Berkshire County remained part of Hampshire County until 1760.

In the 19th century, Berkshire County became popular with the American elite, which built what they called "cottages" throughout the countryside. 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 attractions such as Tanglewood, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Mass MOCA, and Hancock Shaker Village.

Communities

BerkMap
Map of Berkshire County

Cities

Towns

Villages

Villages and census-designated places are unincorporated communities that have no separate legal existence from the towns they are in.

Census-designated places

Transportation

County-wide bus service is provided by the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority. Amtrak service is provided at Pittsfield.


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