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Peru, Massachusetts
Entering Peru
Entering Peru
Official seal of Peru, Massachusetts
Location in Berkshire County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Berkshire County and the state of Massachusetts.
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Berkshire
Settled 1767
Incorporated 1771
 • Total 26.0 sq mi (67.4 km2)
 • Land 25.9 sq mi (67.1 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 2,064 ft (629 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 847
 • Density 33/sq mi (12.6/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01235
Area code(s) 413
FIPS code 25-53050
GNIS feature ID 0619423

Peru is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 847 at the 2010 census.


Originally known as Northern Berkshire Township Number 2 and including all of Hinsdale and part of Middlefield, the town was first settled in 1767 and was officially incorporated as Partridgefield in 1771. Originally named for Oliver Partridge, one of the three purchasers of the town (along with Governor Francis Bernard), the name was officially changed to Peru in 1806, on the suggestion of the Rev. John Leland, "because it is like the Peru of South America, a mountain town, and if no gold or silver mines are under her rocks, she favors hard money and begins with a P."


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 26.0 square miles (67.4 km2), of which 25.9 square miles (67.1 km2) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.3 km2), or 0.41%, is water. Peru lies on the eastern border of Berkshire County, and is bordered by Windsor to the north, Cummington to the northeast, Worthington to the east, Middlefield to the south, Washington to the southwest, and Hinsdale to the west. Peru is 13 miles (21 km) east of Pittsfield, 40 miles (64 km) northwest of Springfield and 118 miles (190 km) west of Boston.

Peru has the highest mean altitude in Massachusetts and, along with neighboring Windsor, is one of only two municipalities with a mean elevation above 2,000 feet. It lies on high ground in the Berkshire Hills, with three main peaks in the town. Much of Peru is forested, with a large portion of the northern third of town covered by a wildlife management area, and much of the southern third covered by the Peru and Middlefield State Forests. To the west of town, Ashmere Lake flows out into Bennett Brook, eventually reaching the East Branch of the Housatonic River. To the east, many brooks, including Trout Brook, flow south and east towards the Westfield River, part of the Connecticut River watershed (Trout Brook is actually one of the main sources of the river).

Peru is bisected by Massachusetts Route 143, passing from east to west. No other state roads pass through the town. The nearest interstate, Interstate 90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike), can be accessed approximately 20 miles (32 km) away in Lee. The nearest bus stop is in the center of Hinsdale. The nearest coach and rail services can be found in Pittsfield, as can the closest regional airport (at Pittsfield Municipal Airport). The nearest national service is located at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1850 519 —    
1860 499 −3.9%
1870 455 −8.8%
1880 403 −11.4%
1890 305 −24.3%
1900 253 −17.0%
1910 237 −6.3%
1920 149 −37.1%
1930 108 −27.5%
1940 142 +31.5%
1950 143 +0.7%
1960 197 +37.8%
1970 256 +29.9%
1980 633 +147.3%
1990 779 +23.1%
2000 821 +5.4%
2010 847 +3.2%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.

As of the census of 2000, there were 821 people, 295 households, and 228 families residing in the town. The town is the ninth-smallest of the 32 cities and towns in the county, and ranks 331st out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts by population.

Bonny Lane - Peru
Bonny Lane, Peru

The population density is listed at 31.7 people per square mile (12.2/km²), ranking it 22nd in the county and 328th in the Commonwealth. There were 378 housing units at an average density of 14.6 per square mile (5.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.93% White, 0.24% African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.12% from other races, and 1.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.12% of the population.

There were 295 households out of which 38.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.7% were married couples living together, 7.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.7% were non-families. 16.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the town, the population was spread out with 27.8% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 27.4% from 45 to 64, and 7.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 107.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 113.3 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $44,531, and the median income for a family was $51,071. Males had a median income of $35,469 versus $30,625 for females. The per capita income for the town was $18,636. About 4.1% of families and 4.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and 2.7% of those age 65 or over.

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