Plymouth, Massachusetts facts
|Town of Plymouth|
Court Street, Plymouth Center, 2009
|Nickname(s): America's Hometown|
Location in Plymouth County in Massachusetts
|Named for||Plymouth, England|
|• Type||Representative town meeting|
| • Town
|• Chairman of the Board of Selectmen||Kenneth A. Tavares|
|• Total||134.0 sq mi (347.0 km2)|
|• Land||96.5 sq mi (249.8 km2)|
|• Water||37.5 sq mi (97.2 km2)|
|Elevation||187 ft (57 m)|
|• Density||608.1/sq mi (234.9/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|Area code(s)||508 / 774|
|GNIS feature ID||0618349|
Plymouth /ˈplɪməθ/ (historically known as Plimouth and Plimoth) is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. Plymouth holds a place of great prominence in American history, folklore, and culture, and is known as "America's Hometown." Plymouth was the site of the colony founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the famous ship the Mayflower. Plymouth is where New England was first established. It is the oldest municipality in New England and one of the oldest in the United States. The town has served as the location of several prominent events, one of the more notable being the First Thanksgiving feast. Plymouth served as the capital of Plymouth Colony from its founding in 1620 until the colony's merger with the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1691. Plymouth is named after the English city of the same name, where the Mayflower departed for America.
Plymouth is the largest municipality in Massachusetts by area. The population is 58,271, according to the 2014 Demographics by Cubit. U.S. Census. Plymouth is one of two county seats of Plymouth County, the other being Brockton.
Plymouth is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) south of Boston in a region of Massachusetts known as the South Shore. Throughout the 19th century, the town thrived as a center of ropemaking, fishing, and shipping, and once held the world's largest ropemaking company, the Plymouth Cordage Company. It continues to be an active port, but today the major industry of Plymouth is tourism. Plymouth is served by Plymouth Municipal Airport, and contains Pilgrim Hall Museum, the oldest continually operating museum in the United States.
As one of the country's first settlements, Plymouth is well known in the United States for its historical value. The events surrounding the history of Plymouth have become part of the ethos of the United States, particularly that relating to Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims, and the First Thanksgiving. The town itself is a popular tourist spot during the Thanksgiving holiday. Plymouth is home to the Old Colony Club, one of the oldest Gentlemen's clubs in the world.
- Points of interest
- Twin and sister cities
Prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims, the location of Plymouth was a village of 2,000 Wampanoag Native Americans called Patuxet. This region that became Plymouth was visited twice by European explorers prior to the establishment of Plymouth Colony. In 1605, Samuel de Champlain sailed to Plymouth Harbor, calling it Port St. Louis. Captain John Smith, a leader of the colony at Jamestown, Virginia, explored parts of Cape Cod Bay; he is credited with naming the region "New Plimouth."
Two plagues afflicted coastal New England in 1614 and 1617, possibly transmitted from British and French fishermen to natives on the shore (although no concrete evidence exists to prove such a connection). The plague killed between 90% and 95% of the local Wampanoag inhabitants. The near disappearance of the tribe from the site left their cornfields and cleared areas vacant for the Pilgrims to occupy; it also meant that the Native Americans were in no condition to resist the arrival of the colonists.
Plymouth has played a very important role in American colonial history. It was the final landing site of the first voyage of the Mayflower, and the location of the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony. Plymouth was established in December 1620 by English separatist Puritans who had broken away from the Church of England, believing that the Church had not completed the work of the Protestant Reformation. Today, these settlers are much better known as "Pilgrims", a term coined by William Bradford.
The Mayflower first anchored in what became the harbor of Provincetown, Massachusetts on November 11, 1620. The ship was headed for the mouth of the Hudson River near Manhattan, which was part of the Colony of Virginia at the time, but it eventually reached New England.
The Pilgrim settlers realized that they did not have a patent to settle in the region, so they signed the Mayflower Compact prior to disembarking. The Pilgrims explored various parts of Cape Cod, and eventually sought a suitable location for a permanent settlement to the westward in Cape Cod Bay. The Pilgrims eventually came across the sheltered waters of Plymouth Harbor on December 17. The appealing protected bay led to a site in the present-day Harbor District being chosen for the new settlement after three days of surveying.
The settlers officially disembarked on December 21, 1620. It is traditionally said that the Pilgrims first set foot in America at the site of Plymouth Rock, though no historical evidence can prove this claim. The settlers named their settlement "Plimouth" (also historically known as "Plimoth", an archaic English spelling of the name) after the major port city in Devon, England from which the Mayflower ultimately sailed. (Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom was named after its location at mouth of the River Plym.)
Plymouth faced many difficulties during its first winter, the most notable being the risk of starvation and the lack of suitable shelter. From the beginning, the assistance of Native Americans was vital. One colonist's journal reports:
We marched to the place we called Cornhill, where we had found the corn before. At another place we had seen before, we dug and found some more corn, two or three baskets full, and a bag of beans....In all we had about ten bushels, which will be enough for seed. It is with God's help that we found this corn, for how else could we have done it, without meeting some Indians who might trouble us.
During their earlier exploration of the Cape, the Pilgrims had come upon a Native American burial site which contained corn, and they had taken the corn for future planting. On another occasion, they found an unoccupied house and had taken corn and beans, for which they made restitution with the occupants about six months later. Even greater assistance came from Samoset and Tisquantum (better known as Squanto), a Native American sent by Wampanoag Tribe Chief Massasoit as an ambassador and technical adviser. Squanto had been kidnapped in 1614 by an English slave raider and sold in Málaga, Spain. He learned English, escaped slavery, and returned home in 1619. He taught the colonists how to farm corn, where and how to catch fish, and other helpful skills for the New World. He also was instrumental in the survival of the settlement for the first two years.
Squanto and another guide sent by Massasoit in 1621 named Hobomok helped the colonists set up trading posts for furs. Chief Massasoit later formed a Peace Treaty with the Pilgrims. Upon growing a plentiful harvest in the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims gathered with Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit, and ninety other Wampanoag men in a celebration of thanksgiving to God for their plentiful harvest. This celebration is known today as the First Thanksgiving, and is still commemorated annually in downtown Plymouth with a parade and a reenactment. Since 1941, Thanksgiving has been observed as a federal holiday in the United States.
Plymouth served as the capital of Plymouth Colony (which consisted of modern-day Barnstable, Bristol, and Plymouth Counties) from its founding in 1620 until 1691, when the colony was merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony and other territories to form the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Plymouth holds the unique distinction of being the first permanent settlement in New England, and one of the oldest settlements in the United States.
In the 1800s, Plymouth remained a relatively isolated seacoast town whose livelihood depended on fishing and shipping. The town eventually became a regional center of shipbuilding and fishing. Its principal industry was the Plymouth Cordage Company, founded in 1824,
In the last 30 years, Plymouth has experienced rapid growth and development. As in many South Shore towns, Plymouth became more accessible to Boston in the early 1970s with improved railroads, highways, and bus routes. Furthermore, the town's inexpensive land costs and low tax rates were factors in the town's significant population rise. Plymouth's population grew from 18,606 residents in 1970 to 45,608 residents in 1990, a 145% increase in 20 years. The population has continued to expand in recent years. While Plymouth has already surpassed several Massachusetts cities in population, the town is still officially regarded as a town, as it has not been re-chartered as a city and continues to be governed by a board of selectmen rather than a mayor. Plymouth has emerged as a major economic and tourist center of the South Shore.
One of the largest towns in Massachusetts, Plymouth spans several exits on its main highway, Route 3. Plymouth boasts several larger shopping plazas and the nearby Independence Mall in Kingston, MA, much of which has been built in just the past 5 years. As it has grown, additional access is possible via a recent extension to Plymouth's second largest highway, U.S. Route 44.
- See also: Neighborhoods in Plymouth, Massachusetts
The latitude of Plymouth is 41.95833 and its longitude is -70.66778. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 134.0 sq mi (347 km2), of which 96.5 sq mi (250 km2) is land, and 37.5 sq mi (97 km2) (28%) is water.
With the largest land area of any municipality in Massachusetts, Plymouth consists of several neighborhoods and geographical sections. Larger localities in the town include Plymouth Center, North, West and South Plymouth, Manomet, Cedarville, and Saquish Neck.
Plymouth makes up the entire western shore of Cape Cod Bay. It is bordered on land by Bourne to the southeast, Wareham to the southwest, Carver to the west, and Kingston to the north. It also shares a small border with Duxbury at the land entrance of Saquish Neck. Plymouth's border with Bourne makes up most of the line between Plymouth and Barnstable counties. The town is located roughly 44 miles (71 km) southeast of Boston (it is almost exactly 40 miles (64 km) from Plymouth Rock to the Massachusetts State House) and equidistantly east of Providence, Rhode Island.
Located in the Plymouth Pinelands, the town of Plymouth has many distinct geographical features. The town's Atlantic coast is characterized by low plains, while its western sections are extremely hilly and forested. Plymouth contains several small ponds scattered throughout its western quadrant, the largest being the Great Herring Pond (which is partly in the town of Bourne). A major feature of the town is the Myles Standish State Forest, which is in the southwestern region. Cachalot Scout Reservation, operated by the Cachalot District of the Narragansett Council of the Boy Scouts of America, lies adjacent to the state forest lands. There is also a smaller town forest, as well as several parks, recreation areas and beaches.
Plymouth has nine public beaches, the largest being Plymouth Beach. Plymouth Beach guards Plymouth Harbor and mostly consists of a three-mile (5 km) long, ecologically significant barrier beach. Clark's Island, a small island in Plymouth Bay, is the only island in Plymouth. It is off the coast of Saquish Neck and has nine summer houses but no year-round inhabitants.
Plymouth's climate is a transitional humid continental/cold humid subtropical/marine type, which is the predominant climate for Massachusetts. Due to its location on the Atlantic Ocean, humidity levels can be very high year-round. Plymouth's coastal location causes it to experience warmer temperatures than many inland locations in New England. Summers are typically hot and humid, while winters are cold, windy and often snowy.
Plymouth's warmest month is July, with an average high temperature of 80.6 °F (27.0 °C) and an average low of 61.6 °F (16.4 °C). The coldest month is January, with an average high temperature of 38.1 °F (3.4 °C) and an average low of 20.1 °F (−6.6 °C).
Much like the rest of the Northeastern seaboard, Plymouth receives ample amounts of precipitation year-round. On average, summer months receive slightly less precipitation than winter months. Plymouth averages about 47.4 inches (120 cm) of rainfall a year. Plymouth, like other coastal Massachusetts towns, is very vulnerable to Nor'easter weather systems. The town is sometimes vulnerable to Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms, which infrequently threaten the Cape Cod region during the early autumn months.
|Climate data for Plymouth, Massachusetts|
|Record high °F (°C)||70
|Average high °F (°C)||38.1
|Average low °F (°C)||20.1
|Record low °F (°C)||−19
|Precipitation inches (mm)||4.1
|Snowfall inches (cm)||32.2
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||10||9||10||10||10||9||9||9||8||8||9||10||111|
- See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.
As of the census of 2010, there were 56,468 people, 21,269 households, and 14,742 families residing in the town; by population it is the second–largest town in Massachusetts, after Framingham. It is also the 21st–largest municipality in the state. The population density was 536.0 inhabitants per square mile (207.0/km2). There are 21,250 housing units, at an average density of 85.1/km2 (220/sq mi). The racial makeup of the town was 93.8% White, 2.0% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.9% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.9% from other races, and 1.48% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.8% of the population.
There are 21,269 households out of which 29.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.6% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.7% were non-families. 23.7% of all households are made up of individuals, and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.55 and the average family size is 3.04.
In the town, the population is spread out with 24.3% under the age of 20, 10.7% from 20 to 29, 28.8% from 30 to 49, 22.2% from 50 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.4 years.
The median income for a household in the town was $54,677 as of the 2000 census, and the median income for a family was $63,266. Males had a median income of $44,983 versus $31,565 for females. The per capita income for the town was $23,732. About 4.4% of families and 5.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.1% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.
Plymouth lies along the "Pilgrims Highway" portion of Route 3, which is the major route between Cape Cod and Boston. The town can be accessed from six exits on the highway, which is more than any other municipality along the Pilgrims Highway. Plymouth is also the eastern terminus of U.S. Route 44. The route has changed recently, as a new divided highway section has linked it to Route 3, before heading south and exiting at its old location before terminating at Route 3A, which more closely follows the shoreline and passes through Plymouth Center. Route 80's western terminus is at its intersection with old Route 44. Route 25 goes through a remote section of the town north of Buzzards Bay, but does not have an exit. Finally, the short Plimoth Plantation Highway allows easy access between Routes 3 and 3A, with an exit that allows direct entry to Plimoth Plantation's parking area. The highway is north of Manomet and south of Plymouth Center.
Plymouth is one of two termini of the Kingston/Plymouth Old Colony Line of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's commuter rail, providing non-peak service to Braintree and as far north as Boston's South Station. The Plymouth MBTA station is near Cordage Park in North Plymouth, along Route 3A. (The other terminus is in Kingston and has more frequent train arrivals and departures. Its station is behind the Independence Mall.) No other railroad lines pass through the town.
There is a seasonal ferry to Provincetown and several other excursion lines that offer cruises of Plymouth Bay and Cape Cod Bay. The ferry is operated by Capt. John Boats and offers one round trip daily from June to September. The ferry leaves from the State Wharf in Plymouth Center. In addition to the ferry, Plymouth Harbor offers service for harbor excursions, whale watching tours, and deep sea fishing.
The Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway Company offers scheduled service to Logan Airport, downtown Boston, Hyannis, and Provincetown. Buses can be boarded at the commuter parking lot at exit 5 off Route 3, behind the McDonald's rest stop. The Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA) operates public transportation buses known as the Plymouth Area Link (PAL) throughout much of Plymouth and Kingston.
The town is home to the Plymouth Municipal Airport, which lies on the border between Plymouth and Carver. Founded in 1931, it offers scheduled service to Nantucket, as well as private service. The airport features a local restaurant and gift shop, but does not have an on-site traffic control tower.
Barnstable Municipal Airport, in Hyannis, offers additional scheduled carrier service. The airport offers scheduled flight services to Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Boston and New York City. It is approximately 30 mi (48 km) from Plymouth.
The nearest national and international airport is Logan International Airport in Boston, roughly 43 mi (69 km) away. T.F. Green Airport, a state airport located in Warwick, Rhode Island, is about 63 mi (101 km) away.
Points of interest
Promoted as America's Hometown, Plymouth is a tourist destination noted for its heritage. The town is home to several notable sites.
Plymouth Rock is one of Plymouth's most famous attractions. Traditionally, the rock is said to be the disembarkation site of the Pilgrims. However, there is no historical evidence to support this belief. The first identification of Plymouth Rock as the actual landing site was made in 1741 by 94-year-old Thomas Faunce, whose father had arrived in Plymouth in 1623, three years after the arrival of the Mayflower. The rock is located roughly 650 feet (200 m) from where the initial settlement was thought to be built.
Plymouth Rock became very famous after its identification as the supposed landing site of the Pilgrims, and was subsequently moved to a location in Plymouth Center. During the process, the rock split in two. It was later moved to Pilgrim Hall and then to a location under a granite Victorian Canopy, where it was easily accessible and subject to souvenir hunters. The rock was finally moved back to its original location along the town's waterfront in 1921. "Plymouth Rock", a large boulder, now sits under the historic Plymouth Rock Portico. The Neo-Classical Revival structure was designed by the highly influential architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White, designers of the Boston Public Library, Rhode Island State House and the former Pennsylvania Station in New York City. Built in 1921 the existing granite portico replaced an earlier Gothic Revival style monument designed by Hammatt Billings (who also designed the National Monument to the Forefathers). In 1970 the Plymouth Rock Portico was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The rock and portico are the centerpiece of Pilgrim Memorial State Park. The park is the smallest park in the Massachusetts state forest and park system, but is also the most heavily visited.
Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum located south of Plymouth Center. It consists of a re-creation of the Plymouth settlement in 1627, as well as a replica of a 17th-century Wampanoag homesite. The museum features role playing tour guides, as well as a large crafts center. The Nye Barn, a replica of a 1627 farming homestead in Plymouth, is also part of the museum. The farm features several animals that would have been found in Plymouth Colony, but are very rare in modern times.
The museum opened in 1947 under the guidance of Henry Hornblower II, a wealthy Boston stockbroker who grew up in Plymouth. The museum originally consisted of the Mayflower II and a "First House" exhibit in Plymouth Center, but was expanded into a large fortified town and a Native American village by 1960.
The Mayflower II is a full-size replica of the Mayflower, the ship which brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620. It is located at the State Pier in Plymouth Center. The ship is open as a museum about the Pilgrims' historic voyage from Plymouth, England, and is considered a faithful replica of the original Mayflower. It is officially a part of Plimoth Plantation.
The ship was built in Brixham, England in 1956, and sailed to Plymouth across the Atlantic Ocean in 1957 by famous mariner Alan Villiers. The ship is still seaworthy, and routinely takes voyages around Plymouth Harbor. In the year 2007, the Mayflower II celebrated the 50th anniversary of its arrival in Plymouth.
In addition to the Plymouth Rock Memorial, several other monuments were constructed in celebration of Plymouth's tricentennial. These include statues of Massasoit and William Bradford, and a sarcophagus containing the bones of the 51 Pilgrims who died in the winter of 1620, which rests atop Cole's Hill.
Pilgrim Hall Museum, founded in 1824, is the oldest continually operating museum in the United States. It is located in Plymouth Center. Plymouth also features the National Monument to the Forefathers, which was dedicated in 1889. Standing at 81 feet (25 m) tall, it is the tallest free-standing solid granite monument in the United States. Other notable historical sites include the Plimoth Grist Mill, a working replica of an original mill built in 1636 (also officially a part of Plimoth Plantation), as well as the 1640 Richard Sparrow House, the oldest house still standing in Plymouth. At the edge of the town on Route 80 is Parting Ways, a 94-acre (380,000 m2) site that is notable for containing the remains of four former slaves who fought in the American Revolutionary War and their families. Other historic houses include the Mayflower House Museum.
There are 21 locations in Plymouth that appear on the National Register of Historic Places, including Plymouth Rock, Cole's Hill, and Pilgrim Hall.
Parks and recreation
Myles Standish State Forest, the Commonwealth's second largest state forest, is located in Plymouth. It is a camping and hiking destination, and contains 16 freshwater lakes and ponds. Ellisville Harbor State Park, located in the extreme southern portion of the town, contains a natural beach inside Cape Cod Bay. Plymouth is also home to 11 public and private golf courses, which include Squirrel Run, Pinehills, Plymouth Country Club, and Southers Marsh, a course that runs through a series of actively maintained cranberry bogs.
Plymouth is also home to a vibrant music and arts community, including the Plymouth Center for the Arts, the Driftwood Folk Cafe, and the Plymouth Independent Music Festival.
Twin and sister cities
Since 2001, Plymouth has shared a twin-city status with: Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom. In addition, since 1990, Plymouth has shared a sister-city status with Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.
- Answer Book/Plymouth: Everything you need to know
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