Essex County, Massachusetts facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Essex County Superior Courthouse
Location within the U.S. state of Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location within the U.S.
|Seat||Salem & Lawrence|
|• Total||828 sq mi (2,140 km2)|
|• Land||493 sq mi (1,280 km2)|
|• Water||336 sq mi (870 km2) 41%%|
|• Density||1,509/sq mi (583/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Congressional districts||3rd, 6th|
Essex County is a county in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the population was 743,159, making it the third-most populous county in Massachusetts. It is part of the Greater Boston area (the Boston–Cambridge–Newton, MA–NH Metropolitan Statistical Area). The largest city in Essex County is Lynn.
It has two county seats: Salem and Lawrence. Prior to the dissolution of the county government in 1999, Salem had jurisdiction over the Southern Essex District and Lawrence had jurisdiction over the Northern Essex District, but currently these cities do not function as seats of government. However, the county and the districts remain as administrative regions recognized by various governmental agencies, which gathered vital statistics or disposed of judicial case loads under these geographic subdivisions, and are required to keep the records based on them. The county has been designated the Essex National Heritage Area by the National Park Service.
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. In 1680, two towns from Massachusetts' colonial-era Norfolk County, Haverhill and Salisbury, both north of the Merrimack River, were annexed to Essex County, while the remainder was transferred to the Province of New Hampshire. These large founding settlements were then subdivided over the centuries to produce Essex County's modern composition of cities and towns.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 828 square miles (2,140 km2), of which 493 square miles (1,280 km2) is land and 336 square miles (870 km2) (41%) 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.
National protected areas
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:
- Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
- Salem Maritime National Historic Site
- Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
- Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge
|U.S. Decennial Census
Essex County has been becoming increasingly diverse in recent years. By 2050, it is predicted that whites will become the minority.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 743,159 people, 285,956 households, and 188,005 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,508.8 inhabitants per square mile (582.6/km2). There were 306,754 housing units at an average density of 622.8 per square mile (240.5/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 81.9% white, 3.8% black or African American, 3.1% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 8.2% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 16.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 23.3% were Irish, 17.1% were Italian, 12.6% were English, 6.1% were German, and 3.6% were American.
Of the 285,956 households, 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.9% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.3% were non-families, and 28.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.14. The median age was 40.4 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $64,153 and the median income for a family was $81,173. Males had a median income of $58,258 versus $44,265 for females. The per capita income for the county was $33,828. About 7.7% of families and 10.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.3% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
Demographic breakdown by town
- 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.
Essex National Heritage Area
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. 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 by rallying community support around saving the character of the area. 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.
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. For example, the census-designated place (CDP) may or may not be comparable to any single municipality on the list. CDPs 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.
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