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Suffolk County, Massachusetts facts for kids

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Suffolk County
Suffolk County Courthouse
Suffolk County Courthouse
Official seal of Suffolk County
Seal
Map of Massachusetts highlighting Suffolk County
Location within the U.S. state of Massachusetts
Map of the United States highlighting Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location within the U.S.
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Country  United States
State  Massachusetts
Founded May 10, 1643
Named for Suffolk
Seat Boston
Largest city Boston
Area
 • Total 120 sq mi (300 km2)
 • Land 58.15 sq mi (150.6 km2)
 • Water 62 sq mi (160 km2)  52%%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 797,936
 • Density 13,698/sq mi (5,289/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 5th, 7th, 8th

Suffolk County is located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in the United States. As of the 2020 census, the population was 797,936, making it the fourth-most populous county in Massachusetts. The county comprises the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.

The traditional county seat is Boston, the state capital and the largest city in Massachusetts. The county government was abolished in late 1999, and so Suffolk County today functions only as an administrative subdivision of state government and a set of communities grouped together for some statistical purposes. Suffolk County constitutes the core of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the greater Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT Combined Statistical Area.

History

Boston's Second City Hall 1841-1865
Old Suffolk County Courthouse 1810-1841

The county was created by the Massachusetts General Court on May 10, 1643, when it was ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four shires". Suffolk initially contained Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Dedham, Braintree, Weymouth, and Hingham. The county was named after Suffolk, England, which means "southern folk."

In 1731, the extreme western portions of Suffolk County, which included Uxbridge, were split off to become part of Worcester County. In 1793, most of the original Suffolk County (including Milton) except for Boston, Chelsea, Hingham, and Hull (which remained in Suffolk) split off and became Norfolk County. Hingham and Hull would leave Suffolk County and join Plymouth County in 1803. Revere was set off from Chelsea and incorporated in 1846 and Winthrop was set off from Revere and incorporated in 1852. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Boston annexed several adjacent cities and towns including Hyde Park, Roxbury, West Roxbury, and Dorchester from Norfolk County and Charlestown and Brighton from Middlesex County, resulting in an enlargement of Suffolk County.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 120 square miles (310 km2), of which 58 square miles (150 km2) is land and 62 square miles (160 km2) (52%) is water. It is the second-smallest county in Massachusetts by land area and smallest by total area.

Adjacent counties

Suffolk County has no land border with Plymouth County to its southeast, but the two counties share a water boundary in the middle of Massachusetts Bay.

National protected areas

Major Highways

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 44,865
1800 28,015 −37.6%
1810 34,381 22.7%
1820 43,940 27.8%
1830 62,163 41.5%
1840 95,773 54.1%
1850 144,517 50.9%
1860 192,700 33.3%
1870 270,802 40.5%
1880 387,927 43.3%
1890 484,780 25.0%
1900 611,417 26.1%
1910 731,388 19.6%
1920 835,522 14.2%
1930 879,536 5.3%
1940 863,248 −1.9%
1950 896,615 3.9%
1960 791,329 −11.7%
1970 735,190 −7.1%
1980 650,142 −11.6%
1990 663,906 2.1%
2000 689,807 3.9%
2010 722,023 4.7%
2020 797,936 10.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020

Of the 292,767 households, 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.1% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 52.0% were non-families, and 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.11. The median age was 31.5 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $50,597 and the median income for a family was $58,127. Males had a median income of $48,887 versus $43,658 for females. The per capita income for the county was $30,720. About 15.7% of families and 20.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.1% of those under age 18 and 19.1% of those age 65 or over.

Suffolk County Racial Breakdown of Population (2017)
Race Percentage of
Suffolk County
population
Percentage of
Massachusetts
population
Percentage of
United States
population
County-to-State
Difference
County-to-USA
Difference
White 61.7% 81.3% 76.6% –19.6% –14.9%
White (Non-Hispanic) 45.4% 72.1% 60.7% –26.7% –15.3%
Black 24.9% 8.8% 13.4% +16.1% +11.5%
Hispanic 22.9% 11.9% 18.1% +11.0% +4.8%
Asian 9.1% 6.9% 5.8% +2.2% +3.3%
Native Americans/Hawaiians 0.9% 0.6% 1.5% +0.3% –0.6%
Two or more races 3.4% 2.4% 2.7% +1.0% +0.7%

Ancestry

According to the 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, the largest ancestry groups in Suffolk County, Massachusetts are:

Ancestry Percentage of
Suffolk County
population
Percentage of
Massachusetts
population
Percentage of
United States
population
County-to-State
Difference
County-to-USA
Difference
Irish 13.73% 21.16% 10.39% –7.42% +3.35%
Italian 9.50% 13.19% 5.39% –3.69% +7.80%
West Indian 6.05% 1.96% 0.90% +4.09% +1.05%
Puerto Rican 5.32% 4.52% 1.66% +0.80% +3.66%
English 4.32% 9.77% 7.67% –5.45% –3.35%
German 4.21% 6.00% 14.40% –1.79% –10.19%
Chinese 4.02% 2.28% 1.24% +1.74% +2.78%
American 3.96% 4.26% 6.89% –0.30% –2.93%
Sub-Saharan African 3.78% 2.00% 1.01% +1.78% +2.76%
Haitian 3.13% 1.15% 0.31% +1.98% +2.82%
Polish 2.41% 4.67% 2.93% –2.26% –0.53%
French 2.01% 6.82% 2.56% –4.81% –0.55%
Cape Verdean 1.99% 0.97% 0.03% +1.02% +1.96%
Vietnamese 1.61% 0.69% 0.54% +0.92% +1.07%
Russian 1.56% 1.65% 0.88% –0.08% +0.69%
Arab 1.54% 1.10% 0.59% +0.44% +0.95%
Jamaican 1.47% 0.44% 0.34% +1.03% +1.12%
Scottish 1.27% 2.28% 1.71% –1.02% –0.45%
Asian Indian 1.22% 1.39% 1.09% –0.17% +0.13%
Mexican 1.18% 0.67% 11.96% +0.51% –10.78%
French Canadian 1.19% 3.91% 0.65% –2.72% +0.53%

Demographic breakdown by town

Income

See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income

Data is from the 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

Rank Town Area (land) Per capita
income
Median
household
income
Median
family
income
Population Number of
households
1 Winthrop City 2.0 sq mi (5.2 km2) $36,624 $61,744 $81,647 17,430 7,356
Massachusetts State $35,051 $65,981 $83,371 6,512,227 2,522,409
2 Boston City 48.42 sq mi (125.41 km2) $33,158 $51,739 $61,035 609,942 247,621
Suffolk County County $32,034 $51,638 $60,342 713,089 286,437
United States Country $27,915 $52,762 $64,293 306,603,772 114,761,359
3 Revere City 5.9 sq mi (15.3 km2) $25,085 $50,592 $58,345 50,845 19,425
4 Chelsea City 2.2 sq mi (5.7 km2) $20,214 $43,155 $46,967 34,872 12,035

Communities

Suffolk County
Map of Suffolk County showing (clockwise from bottom) Boston (red), Chelsea (yellow), Revere (green), and Winthrop (blue). Interior water features such as Boston Harbor are filled in by the color of the containing city.
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