Massachusetts facts


Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Flag of Massachusetts State seal of Massachusetts
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Bay State
Motto(s): Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem (Latin)
By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty
State anthem: All Hail to Massachusetts
Map of the United States with Massachusetts highlighted
Official language English
Spoken languages
Demonym Bay Stater (official) Massachusite (traditional) Massachusettsian
Capital
(and largest city)
Boston
Largest metro Greater Boston
Area Ranked 44th
 - Total 10,565 sq mi
(27,336 km2)
 - Width 183 miles (295 km)
 - Length 113 miles (182 km)
 - % water 25.7
 - Latitude 41° 14′ N to 42° 53′ N
 - Longitude 69° 56′ W to 73° 30′ W
Number of people Ranked 15th
 - Total 6,794,422 (2015 est)
 - Density 840/sq mi  (324/km2)
Ranked 3rd
 - Average income $67,861 (7th)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point Mount Greylock
3,489 ft (1063.4 m)
 - Average 500 ft  (150 m)
 - Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
sea level
Became part of the U.S. February 6, 1788 (6th)
Governor Charlie Baker (R)
U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D)
Ed Markey (D)
U.S. House delegation 9 Democrats (list)
Time zone Eastern: UTC -5/-4
Abbreviations MA, Mass. US-MA
Website www.mass.gov
Massachusetts State symbols
Flag of Massachusetts.svg
The Flag of Massachusetts.

Seal of Massachusetts.svg
The Seal of Massachusetts.

Animate insignia
Bird(s) Black-capped chickadee, wild turkey
Fish Cod
Flower(s) Mayflower
Insect Ladybug
Mammal(s) Right whale, Morgan horse, Tabby cat, Boston Terrier
Reptile Garter snake
Tree American elm

Inanimate insignia
Beverage Cranberry juice
Colors Blue, green, cranberry
Dance Square dance
Food Cranberry, corn muffin, navy bean, Boston cream pie, chocolate chip cookie, Boston cream doughnut
Fossil Dinosaur Tracks
Gemstone Rhodonite
Mineral Babingtonite
Poem "Blue Hills of Massachusetts"
Shell New England Neptune, Neptunea lyrata decemcostata
Ship(s) Schooner Ernestina
Slogan(s) Make It Yours,
The Spirit of America
Soil Paxton
Song(s) "All Hail to Massachusetts"
Sport Basketball

Route marker(s)
Massachusetts Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Massachusetts
Released in 2000

Lists of United States state insignia

Massachusetts is a state in the United States of America. Its official name is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Its capital and largest city is Boston. It is on the east coast of the United States. It is next to the Atlantic Ocean and the states of Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The word Massachusetts comes from Native American language. It means "place with hills."

Massachusetts was one of the first places that European people lived when they came to America. It was one of the first American colonies. The Pilgrims from Plymouth, England came America for religious freedom in 1620.

Massachusets is home to some of the United States more prestigious universities, such as Harvard University. Massachusetts is also one of the richest states in the United States. Its major cities are Boston, Worcester, Massachusetts, Springfield, Massachusetts and Plymouth, Massachusetts

Massachusetts is also home to the 5 time Superbowl winning New England Patriots.

Etymology

National-atlas-massachusetts
Prominent roads and cities in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was named after the indigenous population, the Massachusett.

The official name of the state is the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts".

History

See also: Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony
MayflowerHarbor
The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882). The Pilgrims were a group of Puritans who founded Plymouth in 1620.

Pre-colonization

Massachusetts was originally inhabited by tribes of the Algonquian language family such as the Wampanoag, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Pocomtuc, Mahican, and Massachusett. While cultivation of crops like squash and corn supplemented their diets, these tribes were generally dependent on hunting, gathering and fishing for most of their food supply. Villages consisted of lodges called wigwams as well as longhouses, and tribes were led by male or female elders known as sachems.

Colonial period

In the early 1600s, after contact had been made with Europeans, large numbers of the indigenous peoples in the northeast of what is now the United States were killed by virgin soil epidemics such as smallpox, measles and influenza. Between 1617 and 1619, smallpox killed approximately 90% of the Massachusetts Bay Native Americans.

The first English settlers in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims, arrived via the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620, and developed friendly relations with the native Wampanoag people.

This was the second successful permanent English colony in the part of North America that later became the United States, after the Jamestown Colony. The event known as the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World which lasted for three days. The Pilgrims were soon followed by other Puritans, who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony at present-day Boston in 1630.

In 1641, Massachusetts expanded inland significantly, acquiring the Connecticut River Valley settlement of Springfield.

In 1691, the colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth were united (along with present-day Maine, which had previously been divided between Massachusetts and New York) into the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Shortly after the arrival of the new province's first governor, William Phips, the Salem witch trials took place, where a number of men and women were killed for alleged witchcraft.

The Revolutionary War

Percy's Rescue at Lexington Detail
Percy's Rescue at Lexington

Massachusetts was a center of the movement for independence from Great Britain; colonists in Massachusetts had long uneasy relations with the British monarchy, including open rebellion under the Dominion of New England in the 1680s.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord initiated the American Revolutionary War and were fought in Massachusetts towns. Future President George Washington took over what would become the Continental Army after the battle. His first victory was the Siege of Boston in the winter of 1775–76, after which the British were forced to evacuate the city.

Federal period

Bostonian John Adams, known as the "Atlas of Independence", was an important figure in both the struggle for independence as well as the formation of the new United States. His son John Quincy Adams, also from Massachusetts, would go on to become the sixth United States President.

From 1786 to 1787, an armed uprising, known as Shays' Rebellion led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays wrought havoc throughout Massachusetts, and ultimately attempted to seize the Federal armory. The rebellion was one of the major factors in the decision to draft a stronger national constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation. On February 6, 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the United States Constitution.

19th century

In 1820, Maine separated from Massachusetts and entered the Union as the 23rd state as a result of the ratification of the Missouri Compromise.

Mill Building (now museum), Lowell, Massachusetts
Textile mills such as the Boott Mills in Lowell made Massachusetts a leader in the Industrial Revolution in the United States.

During the 19th century, Massachusetts became a national leader in the American Industrial Revolution, with factories around cities such as Lowell and Boston producing textiles and shoes, and factories around Springfield producing tools, paper, and textiles.

Massachusetts was the first state to recruit, train, and arm an African American regiment with White officers, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. In 1852, Massachusetts became the first state to pass compulsory education laws.

Alexander Graham Bell is commonly credited as the inventor of the first practical telephone. On March 10, 1876 at Boston University, he was able to communicate with his assistant Thomas A. Watson in the next room.

20th century

Boston CAT Project-construction view from air
Part of the "Big Dig" construction project; this portion is over the Charles River in Boston.

With the exodus of several manufacturing companies, the area's industrial economy began to decline during the early 20th century. By the 1920s, competition from the South and Midwest, followed by the Great Depression, led to the collapse of the three main industries in Massachusetts: textiles, shoemaking, and precision mechanics.

Massachusetts manufactured 3.4 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking tenth among the 48 states. In Eastern Massachusetts, following World War II, the economy was transformed from one based on heavy industry into a service-based economy.

Kennedy bros
Kennedy brothers John, Robert (middle) and Edward in July 1960.

The Kennedy family was prominent in Massachusetts politics in the 20th century. Children of businessman and ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. included John F. Kennedy, who was a senator and US president before his assassination in 1963, Robert F. Kennedy, who was a senator, US attorney general, and presidential candidate before his assassination in 1968, Ted Kennedy, a senator from 1962 until his death in 2009, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a co-founder of the Special Olympics. In 1966, Massachusetts became the first state to popularly elect an African American to the US senate with Edward Brooke. George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States (1989–1993) was born in Milton in 1924.

21st century

On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.

Geography

Pioneer Valley South From Mt. Sugarloaf
A portion of the north-central Pioneer Valley in Sunderland

Massachusetts is the 7th smallest state in the United States. It is located in the New England region of the northeastern United States, and has an area of 10,555 square miles (27,340 km2), 25.7% of which is water. Several large bays distinctly shape its coast. Boston is the largest city, at the inmost point of Massachusetts Bay, and the mouth of the Charles River.

Despite its small size, Massachusetts features numerous topographically distinctive regions. The large coastal plain of the Atlantic Ocean in the eastern section of the state contains Greater Boston, along with most of the state's population, as well as the distinctive Cape Cod peninsula. To the west lies the hilly, rural region of Central Massachusetts, and beyond that, the Connecticut River Valley. Along the western border of Western Massachusetts lies the highest elevated part of the state, the Berkshires.

The U.S. National Park Service administers a number of natural and historical sites in Massachusetts.

Ecology

Charadrius-melodus-004 edit
Many coastal areas in Massachusetts provide breeding areas for species such as the piping plover.

The primary biome of inland Massachusetts is temperate deciduous forest. Although much of Massachusetts had been cleared for agriculture, leaving only traces of old-growth forest in isolated pockets, secondary growth has regenerated in many rural areas as farms have been abandoned. Currently, forests cover around 62% of Massachusetts.

A number of species are doing well in the increasingly urbanized Massachusetts. Peregrine falcons utilize office towers in larger cities as nesting areas, and the population of coyotes, whose diet may include garbage and roadkill, has been increasing in recent decades. White-tailed deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, and eastern gray squirrels are also found throughout Massachusetts. In more rural areas in the western part of Massachusetts, larger mammals such as moose and black bears have returned, largely due to reforestation following the regional decline in agriculture.

Massachusetts is located along the Atlantic Flyway, a major route for migratory waterfowl along the eastern coast. Lakes in central Massachusetts provide habitat for many species of fish and waterfowl, but some species such as the common loon are becoming rare. A significant population of long-tailed ducks winter off Nantucket. Small offshore islands and beaches are home to roseate terns and are important breeding areas for the locally threatened piping plover. Protected areas such as the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge provide critical breeding habitat for shorebirds and a variety of marine wildlife including a large population of grey seals.

Freshwater fish species in Massachusetts include bass, carp, catfish, and trout, while saltwater species such as Atlantic cod, haddock, and American lobster populate offshore waters. Other marine species include Harbor seals, the endangered North Atlantic right whales, as well as humpback whales, fin whales, minke whales, and Atlantic white-sided dolphins.

Climate

Most of Massachusetts has a humid continental, with cold winters and warm summers. Far southeast coastal areas are the broad transition zone to temperate climates (humid subtropical climate in some classifications). Frosts are frequent all winter, even in coastal areas due to prevailing inland winds. Due to its location near the Atlantic, Massachusetts is vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms.

Demographics

Massachusetts population map
Massachusetts population density map. The centers of high-density settlement, from east to west, are Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Pittsfield, respectively.

The United States Census Bureau estimated that the population of Massachusetts was 6,794,422 on July 1, 2015.

Most Bay State residents live within the Boston Metropolitan Area, also known as Greater Boston, which includes Boston and its proximate surroundings but also extending to Greater Lowell and to Worcester. The Springfield metropolitan area, also known as Greater Springfield, is also a major center of population. Demographically, the center of population of Massachusetts is located in the town of Natick.

Race and ancestry

St. Patrick Day's Parade, Scituate MA
Saint Patrick's Day parade in Scituate, the municipality with the highest percentage identifying Irish ancestry in the United States, at 47.5% in 2010. Irish Americans constitute the largest ethnicity in Massachusetts.

As of 2014, in terms of race and ethnicity, Massachusetts was 83.2% White (73.7% Non-Hispanic White), 8.8% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American and Alaska Native, 6.3% Asian American, <0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 2.1% from Some Other Race, and 3.1% from Two or More Races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 11.2% of the population.

As late as 1795, the population of Massachusetts was nearly 95% of English ancestry.

During the early and mid 19th century, immigrant groups began arriving in Massachusetts in large numbers; first from Ireland in the 1840s; today the Irish and part-Irish are the largest ancestry group in the state at nearly 25% of the total population.

The largest ancestry group in Massachusetts are the Irish (22.5% of the population), who live in significant numbers throughout the state but form more than 40% of the population along the South Shore in Norfolk and Plymouth counties (in both counties overall, Irish-Americans comprise more than 30% of the population).

There are also several populations of Native Americans in Massachusetts, the Wampanoag tribe maintains reservations at Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard and at Mashpee on Cape Cod - with an ongoing native language revival project underway since 1993; while the Nipmuc maintain two state-recognized reservations in the central part of the state, including one at Grafton.

Languages

The most common varieties of American English spoken in Massachusetts, other than General American, are the cot-caught distinct, rhotic, western Massachusetts dialect and the cot-caught merged, non-rhotic, eastern Massachusetts dialect (popularly known as a "Boston accent").

As of 2010, 78.93% (4,823,127) of Massachusetts residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a first language, while 7.50% (458,256) spoke Spanish, 2.97% (181,437) Portuguese, 1.59% (96,690) Chinese (which includes Cantonese and Mandarin), 1.11% (67,788) French, 0.89% (54,456) French Creole, 0.72% (43,798) Italian, 0.62% (37,865) Russian, and Vietnamese was spoken as a primary language by 0.58% (35,283) of the population over the age of five.

In total, 21.07% (1,287,419) of Massachusetts' population age 5 and older spoke a first language other than English.

Economy

Cranberry Harvest in Massachusetts
Cranberries floating on a bog ready to be corralled and pulled across the bog and loaded into a truck

Sectors vital to the Massachusetts economy include higher education, biotechnology, information technology, finance, health care, tourism, and defense.

The Route 128 corridor and Greater Boston continue to be a major center for venture capital investment, and high technology remains an important sector.

Sunset on Cape Cod Bay
Cape Cod Bay, a leading tourist destination in Massachusetts. Tourism is important to the state's economy.

In recent years tourism has played an ever-important role in the state's economy, with Boston and Cape Cod being the leading destinations. Other popular tourist destinations include Salem, Plymouth, and the Berkshires. Massachusetts is the sixth-most popular tourist destination for foreign travelers.

Agricultural products produced include cranberries, sweet corn and apples. Massachusetts is the second-largest cranberry-producing state in the union after Wisconsin.

Transportation

MBTA services sampling excluding MBTA Boat
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, serving Greater Boston

Rail service

Amtrak operates inter-city rail, including the high-speed Acela service to cities such as Providence, New Haven, New York City, and Washington, DC from South Station. From North Station the Amtrak Downeaster serves Portland, Maine and Brunswick, Maine.

Regional services

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), also known as "The T", operates public transportation in the form of subway, bus, and ferry systems in the Metro Boston area.

Two heritage railways are also in operation: the Cape Cod Central Railroad and the Berkshire Scenic Railway.

Air service

Downtown Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester, second-largest city in the state, with Worcester Regional Airport tower in the background

The major airport in the state is Boston-Logan International Airport.

Massachusetts has approximately 42 public-use airfields, and over 200 private landing spots.

Roads

There are a total of 31,300 miles (50,400 km) of interstates and other highways in Massachusetts. A massive undertaking to bring I-93 underground in downtown Boston, called the Big Dig, brought the city's highway system under public scrutiny for its high cost and construction quality.

Cities, towns, and counties

Massachusetts' largest cities

  • Lynn - population 91,589

Boston is the state capital and largest city in Massachusetts. The population of the city proper is 645,966, and Greater Boston, with a population of 4,628,910, is the 10th largest metropolitan area in the nation.

Arts, culture, and recreation

Site of Thoreau's cabin
The site of Henry David Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond in Concord

Massachusetts has contributed to American arts and culture. Drawing from its Native American and Yankee roots, along with later immigrant groups, Massachusetts has produced a number of writers, artists, and musicians. A number of major museums and important historical sites are also located there, and events and festivals throughout the year celebrate the state's history and heritage.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was born in Boston but spent much of his later life in Concord, largely created the philosophy with his 1836 work Nature, and continued to be a key figure in the movement for the remainder of his life. Emerson's friend, Henry David Thoreau, recorded his year spent alone in a small cabin at nearby Walden Pond in the 1854 work Walden; or, Life in the Woods.

Other famous authors and poets born or strongly associated with Massachusetts include Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Updike, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, E.E. Cummings, Sylvia Plath, H.P. Lovecraft, and Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as "Dr. Seuss". Famous painters from Massachusetts include Winslow Homer and Norman Rockwell; many of the latter's works are on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.

InsideOutStage
An outdoor dance performance at Jacob's Pillow in Becket

Massachusetts is also an important center for the performing arts. Both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops Orchestra are based in Massachusetts.

USS Constitution salutes Bataan 2005
USS Constitution fires a salute during its annual Fourth of July turnaround cruise.

Massachusetts is home to a large number of museums and historical sites. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the DeCordova contemporary art and sculpture museum in Lincoln are all located within Massachusetts, and the Maria Mitchell Association in Nantucket includes several observatories, museums, and an aquarium. Historically themed museums and sites such as the Springfield Armory National Historic Site in Springfield, Boston's Freedom Trail and nearby Minute Man National Historical Park, both of which preserve a number of sites important during the American Revolution, the Lowell National Historical Park, which focuses on some of the earliest mills and canals of the industrial revolution in the US, the Black Heritage Trail in Boston, which includes important African-American and abolitionist sites in Boston, and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park all showcase various periods of Massachusetts' history.

Plimoth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village are two open-air or "living" museums in Massachusetts, recreating life as it was in the 17th and early 19th centuries, respectively.

Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day parade and "Harborfest", a week-long Fourth of July celebration featuring a fireworks display and concert by the Boston Pops as well as a turnaround cruise in Boston Harbor by the USS Constitution, are popular events. The New England Summer Nationals, an auto show in Worcester, draws tens of thousands of attendees every year. The Boston Marathon is also a popular event in the state drawing more than 30,000 runners and tens of thousands of spectators annually.

Long-distance hiking trails in Massachusetts include the Appalachian Trail, the New England National Scenic Trail, the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, the Midstate Trail, and the Bay Circuit Trail. Other outdoor recreational activities in Massachusetts include sailing and yachting, freshwater and deep-sea fishing, whale watching, downhill and cross-country skiing, and hunting.

Sports

131023-F-PR861-033 Hanscom participates in World Series pregame events
Fenway Park
Gillette Stadium Foxboro
Gillette Stadium

Massachusetts is home to five major league professional sports teams: seventeen-time NBA Champions Boston Celtics, eight-time World Series winners Boston Red Sox, six-time Stanley Cup winners Boston Bruins, and five-time Super Bowl winners New England Patriots. The New England Revolution is the Major League Soccer team for Massachusetts and the Boston Cannons are the Major League Lacrosse team. The Boston Breakers are the Women's Professional Soccer in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is also the home of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

In the late 19th century, the Olympic sports of basketball and volleyball were invented in the Western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. The Basketball Hall of Fame, is a major tourist destination in the City of Springfield and the Volleyball Hall of Fame is located in Holyoke. The American Hockey League (AHL), the NHL's development league, is headquartered in Springfield.

Massachusetts is also the home of rowing events such as the Eastern Sprints on Lake Quinsigamond and the Head of the Charles Regatta. A number of major golf events have taken place in Massachusetts, including nine U.S. Opens and two Ryder Cups.


Massachusetts Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.