Massachusetts

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is basically copied from an external source and has not been approved.
Main Article
Talk
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
Catalogs [?]
 
This editable Main Article is under development and not meant to be cited; by editing it you can help to improve it towards a future approved, citable version. These unapproved articles are subject to a disclaimer.
The content on this page originated on Wikipedia and is yet to be significantly improved. Contributors are invited to replace and add material to make this an original article.
See also: Massachusetts, history

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. Most of its population of 6.4 million lives in the Boston metropolitan area. The eastern half of this relatively small state is mostly urban and suburban, while the west is primarily rural. It is the most populous of the six New England states.

The first Europeans to settle New England landed in Plymouth in 1620; they were Pilgrims from England seeking religious freedom. In the 1630s a much larger, different group of Pilgrims arrived, settling in Boston and most of the eastern part of the state. In the 1770s Massachusetts became known as the 'Cradle of Liberty' for the revolutionary ferment that spawned the war of the Thirteen Colonies for independence.

During the 19th century, Massachusetts transformed itself from a mainly agricultural economy to a manufacturing one, making use of its many rivers for power to operate factories for shoes, furniture, and clothing. Its economy declined in the early twentieth century when industry moved south in search of cheaper labor. A revitalization came in the 1970s when, nourished by the graduates of the area's many elite institutions of higher education, the Boston suburbs (particularly those near Route 128) became home to dozens of high-technology companies. Massachusetts's colleges and universities, as well as its technology sectors, continue to thrive.

Massachusetts has been one of the most influential states in America. The first battles of the American Revolution were fought in the Massachusetts towns of Concord and Lexington. The Boston Tea Party is a well-known example of the revolutionary spirit of those times. In the 19th century, the state became a bastion of social progressivism and a birthplace of the abolitionist movement that emancipated southern blacks from slavery. The Kennedy family dominated Massachusetts politics in the 20th century. In the 21st century, the state continues to lead the country in social and cultural change, and in 2004 became the first state in the union to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Name

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was named after the indigenous population, the Massachusett, whose name can be segmented as mass-adchu-s-et, where mass- is "large", -adchu- is "hill", -s- is a diminutive suffix meaning "small", and -et is a locative suffix, identifying a place. It has been translated as "at the great hill," "at the little big hill," or "at the range of hills," referring to the Blue Hills, or in particular, Great Blue Hill, located on the boundary of Milton and Canton, to the southwest of Boston. (c.f. the Narragansett name Massachusêuck; Ojibwe misajiwensed, "of the little big hill").

Massachusetts officially designates itself a "commonwealth." Colloquially, it is often referred to simply as "the Commonwealth," although "state" is used interchangeably. While this designation is part of the state's official name, it has no practical implications. Massachusetts has the same position and powers within the United States as other states and a similar form of internal government.

Geography

Massachusetts is bordered on the north by New Hampshire and Vermont; on the west by New York; on the south by Connecticut and Rhode Island; and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. At the southeastern corner of the state is a large, sandy, arm-shaped peninsula called Cape Cod. The islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket lie to the south of Cape Cod. The highest point in the state is Mount Greylock at 3491 feet.

Boston is located at the innermost point of Massachusetts Bay, at the mouth of the Charles River, the longest river entirely within Massachusetts. Most of the population of the Boston metropolitan area (approximately 4.4 million) does not live in the city proper; eastern Massachusetts on the whole is fairly densely populated and largely suburban.

Western Massachusetts is more rural and sparsely populated, especially in the Berkshires, the branch of the Appalachian Mountains that dominates the western quarter of the state. The most populated part of western Massachusetts is the "Pioneer Valley," running the length of Massachusetts on either side of the Connecticut River, which flows through western Massachusetts from north to south. The soil on the banks of this river is the best in Massachusetts, making the valley the breadbasket of the state. The geographic center of the state is in the town of Rutland, in Worcester county.

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

The fourteen counties, moving roughly from west to east, are Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden, Worcester, Middlesex, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket. Because of the state's historical ties to England, all but two of the Commonwealth's fourteen counties are named for British counties, cities, or nobles.

Climate

Massachusetts has a humid continental climate, with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. With its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Massachusetts receives a generous amount of precipitation throughout the year, but is slightly wetter during the winter. Summers are warm with average high temperatures in July above 80 °F and overnight lows above 60 ° common throughout the state. Winters are cold, but generally less extreme on the coast with high temperatures in the winter averaging above freezing even in January, although areas further inland are much colder. The state does have extreme temperatures from time to time with 90 °F in the summer and below 0 °F temperatures in the winter not being unusual.

The state has its share of extreme weather, being prone to Nor'easters and to severe winter storms. Summers can bring thunderstorms, averaging around 30 days of thunderstorm activity per year. Massachusetts has had its share of destructive tornadoes, with the western part of the state slightly more vulnerable then coastal areas in the east. Massachusetts, like the entire United States eastern seaboard, is vulnerable to hurricanes. Although its location further east in the Atlantic Ocean than many states further south puts it in the path of many such storms, Massachusetts has suffered a direct hit from a major hurricane three times since 1851, the same amount of direct hits suffered by southern Atlantic state of Georgia. More often the state is hit by hurricanes that have weakened to tropical storm strength.

The weather of Massachusetts is highly varied throughout the year, and is usually dependent on the distance one is from the shore areas. As most New England states, it has a very cold winter, usually within 10-20 degrees of freezing and with a high chance of snowfall. The spring and summers are fairly mild, with occasional heat waves exceeding one hundred degrees.

Flora and Fauna

The primary biome of inland Massachusetts is temperate deciduous forest. However, much of the state has been logged, leaving only traces of old growth forest in isolated pockets. Secondary growth has regenerated in many woodlots and forests, particularly in the western half of Massachusetts. Urbanization, particularly in the eastern half of the state, has affected much of Massachusetts. No longer are there vast expanses of wilderness. Gray Wolf, American Elk, Wolverine and Mountain Lion once occurred here but have long since disappeared.

Wildlife species that are doing well are adapting to their changing setting. Coyote, White-tailed Deer, Raccoon, and Wild Turkey are now found in suburbs of major cities and are increasing in population. Black bear continue to thrive in many of the state forests of western Massachusetts, and moose have repopulated a portion of north-central Mass. Peregrine Falcon can now be found nesting on artificial platforms on many of the state's tallest buildings in larges cities such as Boston, Worcester and Springfield.

The Atlantic Flyway is the primary migration route for bird species. Common Loon are a relatively recent addition to the breeding bird list, their nests at the Wachusett Reservoir are considered the most southerly in the world population of this species. A significant portion of the eastern population of Long-tailed d Duck winter off Nantucket. Small offshore islands are home to a significant population of breeding Roseate Terns, and some beaches are important breeding areas to a significant number of the endangered Piping Plover.

Massachusetts has an extensive coastline and enjoys a strong commercial fishery out to the continental shelf. Atlantic cod, haddock and American lobster are species harvested here. Gray Seal have a large nursery near Monomoy Island and other islands in Nantucket Sound. Finally, a significant number of the endangered North Atlantic Right Whales summer on feeding grounds in Cape Cod Bay. Whale watching is a popular summer activity off the coast of Massachusetts. Boats regularly sail to Stellwagen Bank to view species such as Humpback Whale, Fin Whale, Minke Whale and Atlantic White-sided Dolphin.

History

Various Algonquian tribes inhabited the area prior to European settlement. Most of the Native American tribes were heavily decimated by waves of smallpox. For more than two hundred years, this disease affected all new world populations without intentional European transmission, from contact in the early 1500s to until possibly as early as the French and Indian Wars (1754-1767).

The first European settlers, the Pilgrims, established their settlement at Plymouth in 1620, and developed friendly relations with the native Wampanoag. The majority of early settlers came from within 60 miles of Haverhill, England. The Pilgrims were soon followed by Puritans who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony at present-day Boston. The Puritans came to Massachusetts for religious purification and would not tolerate other religions. Dissenters such as Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams, and Thomas Hooker left Massachusetts because of the Puritans' lack of religious tolerance. Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island, and Hooker founded Connecticut.

Native American-European racial tensions led to King Philip's War 1675-76. There were major campaigns in the Pioneer Valley and Plymouth Colony. Massachusetts became a single colony in 1692, the largest in New England, and one where many American institutions and traditions were formed. The colony fought alongside British regulars in a series of French and Indian Wars that were characterized by brutal border raids and successful attacks on British forces in present-day Canada.

Massachusetts was a center of the movement for independence from Great Britain. With actions by the patriots and counter-actions by the Crown were a main reason for the unity of the Thirteen Colonies and the outbreak of the American Revolution, starting with battles in and around Boston in 1775-76. After independence and during the formative years of independent American government, Shays' Rebellion was an armed uprising in the western half of the state from 1786 to 1787. The rebels were mostly small farmers angered by crushing war debt and taxes. Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to abolish slavery, in a 1783 judicial interpretation of its 1780 constitution.

On March 15, 1820, Maine separated from Massachusetts, of which it had been a non-contiguous part, and entered the Union as the 23rd State as a result of the ratification of the Missouri Compromise. Massachusetts became a national and world leader in industrialization, with its mastery of machine tools and textiles. Horace Mann made the state system of schools the national model. Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson made major contributions to American thought. Members of the Transcendentalism movement, they emphasized the importance of the natural world to humanity.

In the years leading up to the Civil War, Massachusetts was a center of temperance and abolitionist activity within the United States. Antagonism to their views resulted in anti-abolitionist riots in Massachusetts between 1835 and 1837. The works of abolitionists contributed to subsequent actions of the state during the Civil War. Massachusetts was the first state to recruit, train, and arm a black regiment with white officers, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

Massachusetts entered the twentieth century with a strong industrial economy, but by the 1920s low-wage competition from the South, followed by the Great Depression, led to the collapse of Massachusetts’ two main industries, shoes and textiles. In the years following World War II, Massachusetts was transformed from a factory system to a largely service and high-tech based economy. In the ensuing years, government contracts, private investment, and research facilities led to a new and improved industrial climate, with reduced unemployment and increased per capita income. Suburbanization flourished, as the Route 128 corridor became dotted with research developments. In 1987 the state received federal funding for the $14.6 billion Central Artery/Tunnel Project. Known colloquially as the "the Big Dig," it was at the time the biggest federal highway project ever approved.

Demographics

Population

Massachusetts had an estimated 2006 population of 6,437,193, an increase of 3,826, or 0.1%, from the prior year and an increase of 88,088, or 1.4%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 149,992 people (499,440 births minus 349,448 deaths) and a decrease from net migration of 89,812 people out of the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 200,155 people, and net migration within the country resulted in a loss of 289,967 people.

Massachusetts has seen both population increases and decreases in recent years. For example, while many native Bay Staters are leaving, Asian, Hispanic and African immigrants continue to replace them. Massachusetts in 2004 included 881,400 foreign-born residents.

Most Bay Staters live in Greater Boston, including the City of Boston, an inner ring of neighboring cities and towns, the North Shore, South Shore, and the northern, western, and southern suburbs. In addition, Greater Boston includes most of southeastern Massachusetts and central Massachusetts. Eastern Massachusetts is more urban than central or Western Massachusetts, which is primarily rural, save for the cities of Springfield, Northampton, and Greenfield, which serve as centers of population density in the southern, central, and northern Pioneer Valley, respectively. The center of population of Massachusetts is located in Middlesex County, in the town of Natick.

Race, ancestry, and language

The five largest reported ancestries in Massachusetts are: Irish (21%), Italian (17.5%), French/French Canadian (12.9%) English (11.4%), German (5.9%).

Massachusetts has one of the highest populations of Irish ancestry in the nation. Massachusetts also has large communities of people of Italian and French descent. Other influential ethnicities are Greek Americans, Lithuanian Americans and Polish Americans. Massachusetts "Yankees," of colonial English ancestry, still have a strong presence in the small towns. Franco-Bay Staters are the largest group in much of western and central Massachusetts. Boston has a large African-American population, and its largest immigrant group is Haitians. Fall River and New Bedford on the south coast have large populations of people with Portuguese, Brazilian, and Cape Verdean heritage, which is also very prevalent in the Brockton area. There is a growing Brazilian population in the Boston area. Lowell, in the northeast of the state, is home to the second largest Cambodian (Khmer) community in the country, outside of Long Beach, California. Although most of the Native Americans intermarried or died out, the Wampanoag tribe maintains a small reservation at Aquinnah, on Martha's Vineyard, and a recognized reservation at Mashpee. The Nipmuck maintain two state-recognized reservations in the central part of the state. Other Wampanoags and other Native people live scattered around the state outside of reservations.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 6.21% of the population aged 5 and over speak Spanish at home, while 2.68% speak Portuguese, 1.44% French, and 1.00% Italian.

Religion

Massachusetts was initially founded and settled by staunch Puritans in the 17th century and remained a majority-Yankee state for most of its history. Today Protestants make up less than 1/3 of the state's population. Roman Catholics now predominate because of massive immigration from Ireland, Quebec, Italy, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. A large Jewish population came to the Boston area 1880-1920. Mary Baker Eddy made the Boston Mother Church of Christian Science the world headquarters. The descendants of the Puritans belong to many different churches; in the direct line of inheritance are the Congregational/United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalist churches. Both of these denominations are noted for their strong support of social justice, civil rights, and moral issues, including strong and early advocacy of abolition of slavery, women's liberation, and (after 2000) legal recognition of gay marriage.

The religious affiliations of the people of Massachusetts (as of 2001) are shown in the table below:

Emigration and Immigration

High housing costs in Massachusetts have primarily contributed to increasing emigration to neighboring New Hampshire and Rhode Island in addition to the Southern and Western states. Other factors cited include taxes, weather, and traffic. According to a poll by University of New Hampshire Survey Center, there is an outflow of about 40,000 people, many young people of working age, leaving Massachusetts each year with many working class migrants moving to exburbs in New Hampshire and professionals moving further afield to Florida, Texas and diverse locations in the Southeast, Midwest and West. High housing costs and searching for a better job were cited by many as major reasons for their move. Other factors cited included taxes, a better place to raise kids, the weather, and traffic. Migrants generally report satisfaction with their move, reporting improved public courtesy in addition to reduced housing costs.

Net outflow of population is about 19,000 per year. According to a report in the Boston Globe outflow of population is directly involved with high housing prices in the Boston area, now the 3rd most expensive housing market in the United States. High housing costs, in turn, limit expansion plans by area firms which often go elsewhere to find lower cost areas. There is high price volatility due to the limited housing stock, economic expansion tending to cause rapid appreciation of housing prices. Expansion of the housing stock in the metropolitan area is limited by restrictions on building permits in suburban communities.

On the other hand, Massachusetts is still one of the top states for immigrants. In fact, recent census data shows that the number of immigrants living in Massachusetts have increased over 15% from 2000 to 2005. The biggest influxes are Brazilians and Latin Americans. According to the census, the population of Central Americans rose by 67.7 percent between 2000 and 2005, and the number of South Americans rose by 107.5 percent. And among South Americans, the largest group to increase appeared to be Brazilians, whose numbers rose by 131.4 percent, to 84,836. This surge of immigrants tends to offset emigration, and, of course, given the 350,000 increase in population in the Commonwealth between 1990 and 2000, many immigrants to Massachusetts come from elsewhere in the USA.

Following numerous factory closures few jobs remain for low skilled male workers in Massachusetts who are dropping out of the workforce in large numbers, the percentage of men in the labor force falling from 77.7% in 1989 to only 72.8% in 2005. This is a national trend, but is most pronounced in Massachusetts. In the case of men without high school diplomas 10% have left the labor force between 1990 and 2000.

Economy

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Massachusetts's gross state product in 2004 was US$318 billion. Per capita personal income in 2004 was US$42,102, making it the 2nd highest in the country behind Connecticut. Gross state product increased 2.6% from 2004 to 2005, below the national average of 3.5%.

Its agricultural outputs are seafood, nursery stock, dairy products, cranberries, tobacco and vegetables. Its industrial outputs are machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, scientific instruments, printing, and publishing. Thanks largely to the Ocean Spray cooperative, Massachusetts is the second largest cranberry producing state in the union (after Wisconsin).

Other sectors vital to the Massachusetts economy include higher education, health care, financial services and tourism. During the peak of minicomputers, Massachusetts was the home of many of the largest computer companies such as Digital Equipment Corporation, Data General, and Wang Laboratories situated around Route 128 and 495. Most of the larger companies fell into decline after the rise of the personal computer, which was based in large part on software such as Visicalc and Lotus 1-2-3 and hardware technology such as memory and operating systems developed by many of these companies. High technology remains an important sector, though few of the largest technology companies are based here.

As of 2005, there were 6,100 farms in Massachusetts encompassing a total of 520,000 acres, averaging 85 acres apiece. Particular agricultural products of note include tobacco, animals and animal products, and fruits, tree nuts, and berries, for which the state is nationally ranked 11th, 16th, and 17th, respectively.

Massachusetts has a flat-rate personal income tax of 5.3%, with an exemption for income below a threshold that varies from year to year. The state imposes a 5% sales tax on retail sales of tangible personal property—except for groceries, clothing, and periodicals—in Massachusetts by any vendor. The 5% sales tax is charged on clothing that costs more than $150.00. Only the amount over $150.00 is taxed. All real and tangible personal property located within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is taxable unless specifically exempted by statute. The administration of the assessment and collection of all real and tangible personal property taxes in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is handled by the city and town assessor and collected in the jurisdiction where the property is located. Massachusetts imposes a tax on any gains from the sale or exchange of capital assets held for more than one year. The state also collects a 12% tax on the sale or exchange of capital assets held for one year or less (short-term capital gains). Interest from non-Massachusetts banks is no longer taxed at 12%, but the first $100 of interest from Massachusetts banks is tax exempt from even the 5.3% tax. There is no inheritance tax and limited Massachusetts estate tax related to federal estate tax collection.

Transportation

A major airport in the state is Logan International Airport. The airport is a hub for major airlines such as American Airlines. Interstate highways crossing the state include: I-91, I-291, I-84, I-95, I-495, I-195, I-395, I-93, I-290, I-190, and I-90. Other major thoroughfares are U.S. Route 1, Route 2, Route 3, U.S. Route 3, U.S. Route 6, and Route 24. A massive undertaking to depress I-93 in the Boston downtown area called the Big Dig has brought the city's highway system under public scrutiny over the last decade. Public transportation in the form of a subway system and longer distance Commuter Rail in the Boston metro area is operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority but mostly runs through the Greater Boston area, including service to Worcester and Providence, Rhode Island. Fifteen other regional transit authorities provide public transportation, mostly outside the MBTA service area. In addition, the Springfield area will finally receive its own commuter rail service around 2010, with service south to Hartford and New Haven in Connecticut, and perhaps commuter service to Boston at a later date.

Law, government and politics

Law

The Massachusetts Constitution was ratified in 1780 while the Revolutionary War was in progress, four years after the Articles of Confederation was drafted, and seven years before the present United States Constitution was ratified in 1787. Massachusetts has the oldest written Constitution now in use by any government in the world. It specifies three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial.

Following a November 2003 decision of the state's Supreme Court, Massachusetts became the first (and so far only) state to issue same-sex marriage licenses, on May 17, 2004. See the articles on same-sex marriage in the United States and same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is the first state in the union to mandate health insurance for all its citizens. See Massachusetts 2006 Health Reform Statute for more details.

Government

The governor is head of the executive branch and serves as chief administrative officer of the state and as commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts National Guard. The current governor is Deval Patrick. All governors of Massachusetts are given the title His/Her Excellency, a carry-over from the Commonwealth's British past, despite titles being uncommon in American political traditions. Responsibilities of the governor include preparation of the annual budget, nomination of all judicial officers, the granting of pardons (with the approval of the governor's Council), appointments of the heads of most major state departments, and the acceptance or veto of each bill passed by the Legislature. Several executive offices have also been established, each headed by a secretary appointed by the governor, much like the president's cabinet.

The Governor's Council (also called the Executive Council) is composed of the Lieutenant Governor and eight councilors elected from councilor districts for a two-year term. It has the constitutional power to approve judicial appointments and pardons, to authorize expenditures from the Treasury, to approve the appointment of constitutional officers if a vacancy occurs when the legislature is not in session, and to compile and certify the results of statewide elections. It also approves the appointments of notaries public and justices of the peace.

The Massachusetts state legislature is formally styled the "General Court." (See Massachusetts General Court) Elected every two years, the General Court is made up of a Senate of 40 members and a House of Representatives of 160 members. The Massachusetts Senate is said to be the second oldest democratic deliberative body in the world. Each branch elects its own leader from its membership. The Senate elects its president; the House its speaker. These officers exercise power through their appointments of majority floor leaders and whips (the minority party elects its leaders in a party caucus), their selection of chairs and all members of joint committees, and in their rulings as presiding officers. Joint committees of the General Court are made up of 6 senators and 15 representatives, with a Senate and House chair for each committee. These committees must hold hearings on all bills filed. Their report usually determines whether or not a bill will pass. Each chamber has its own Rules Committee and Ways and Means Committee and these are among the most important committee assignments.

Judicial appointments are held to the age of seventy. The Supreme Judicial Court, consisting of a chief justice and six associate justices, is the highest court in the Commonwealth; it is empowered to advise the governor and the legislature on questions of law. All trials are held in departments and divisions of a unified Trial Court, headed by a Chief Justice for Administrative and Management, assisted by an administrator of courts. It hears civil and criminal cases. Cases may be appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court or the Appeals Court for review of law, but findings of fact made by the Trial Court are final. The Superior Court, consisting of a chief justice and sixty-six associate justices, is the highest department of the Trial Court. Other departments are the District, Housing, Juvenile, Land, and Probate Courts.

Massachusetts's U.S. senators are Edward Kennedy (D) and John Kerry (D). The 10 Members of the states delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives are John Olver (D),Richard Neal (D), Jim McGovern (D), Barney Frank (D), Marty Meehan (D), John F. Tierney (D), Ed Markey (D), Mike Capuano (D), Stephen Lynch (D), and Bill Delahunt (D). Federal court cases are heard in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Appeals are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Politics

Massachusetts is the base of the Kennedy family, and routinely votes for the Democratic Party in federal elections: it is the most populous state to have an all-Democratic Congressional delegation (ten representatives and two senators). As of the 2006 election, the Republican party holds less than 13% of the seats in both legislative houses of the General Court: in the House, the balance is 141 Democratic to 19 Republican, and in the Senate, 35-5. The current governor is Deval Patrick, an African-American Democrat. His term began in 2007 with a rocky start involving several small-scale scandals that stopped his momentum.

The Republicans who held the governor's office continuously from 1991 to 2007 were among the more liberal Republican leaders in the nation. Paul Cellucci took office when William Weld resigned; Jane Swift took office when Cellucci resigned. Mitt Romney served a full term, then in 2006 ran not for reelection but for the presidency.

In presidential elections, Massachusetts, like other industrial states, supported Republicans until 1912, from 1916 through 1924, in the 1950s, and in 1980 and 1984. From 1988 through 2004, Massachusetts has supported Democratic presidential candidates, most recently giving native son John Kerry 61.9% of the vote and his largest margin of victory in any state. (It should be noted, however, John Kerry's margin of victory in the District of Columbia was much higher in 2004.) During the 1972 election, Massachusetts was the only state to give its electoral votes to George McGovern, the Democratic nominee (The District of Columbia also voted for McGovern). Following the resignation of President Nixon in 1974, a famous bumper sticker circulated in the state, "Don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts."

Cities and towns

See List of Massachusetts cities and towns

There are 50 cities and 301 towns in Massachusetts, grouped into 14 counties. Eleven communities which call themselves "towns" are, by law, cities since they have traded the town meeting form of government for a mayor-council or manager-council form. Boston is the state capital and largest city. It is the nation's 11th largest metropolitan area. Cities over 100,000 in population (2004 estimates) include Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, and Cambridge. Massachusetts shares the governmental structure known as the New England town with the five other New England states, as well as New York and New Jersey.

Education

The Puritans and Yankees gave Massachusetts a strong commitment to education. It was the first state to require municipalities to appoint a teacher or estabish a grammar school (albeit, paid by the parents of the pupils) in 1647; this mandate was later made a part of the state constitution in 1789. The town of Rehoboth, Massachusetts has been noted to be the birthplace of public education in North America. Massachusetts is home to the country's oldest high school, Boston Latin School (founded 1635), oldest college, Harvard College (founded 1636), and oldest municipally supported free library, Boston Public Library, (founded 1848). Massachusetts, under the leadership of Horace Mann was the first state to pass compulsory school attendance laws (1852) The per student public expenditure for elementary and secondary schools (kindergarten through grade 12) was 5th in the nation in 2004, at $11,681.


Massachusetts is home to an internationally famous constellation of prep schools, colleges, universities and graduate schools. It is dominant in the sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences, law, divinity and medicine. There are more than 40 colleges located in the greater Boston area alone. The University of Massachusetts (UMass) is the five-campus public university system based in Amherst, with a medical school in Worcester.

Media

There are two major television media markets located in Massachusetts. The Boston market is the 7th largest in the United States. All major networks are represented. The other market surrounds the Springfield area. Some communities in Berkshire county are serviced by the Albany, New York market, and some southeastern Massachusetts communities are serviced by the Providence, Rhode Island market. The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Worcester Telegram & Gazette and the Springfield Republican are the Commonwealths largest daily newspapers. In addition, there are many community dailies and weeklies found throughout the state. There are a number of major radio stations (AM 50,000 watts, FM over 20,000 watts) which service Massachusetts, along with many more regional and community based stations. Some colleges and universities also operate campus television and radio stations, and print their own newspaper.

Sports and recreation

Organized sports

Masssachusetts has a long history with amateur athletics and professional teams. Most of the major professional teams have won multiple championships in their respective leagues. Massachusetts teams have won 5 Stanley Cups (Boston Bruins), 16 NBA Championships (Boston Celtics), 3 Super Bowls (New England Patriots), and 7 World Series (6 Boston Red Sox, 1 Boston Braves). Massachusetts is also the home to the Basketball Hall of Fame (Springfield), the Volleyball Hall of Fame (Holyoke), and the Cape Cod Baseball League. It is also home to prestigious sports events such as the Boston Marathon and the Head of the Charles Regatta. The Falmouth Road Race in running and the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic in bicycle racing are also very popular events with long histories.

The PGA Deutsche Bank Championship and the Champions Tour Bank of America Championship are regular professional golf tour stops in the state. Massachusetts has played host to 9 US Opens, 4 US Women's Opens, 2 Ryder Cups, and 1 Senior Open.

Many colleges and universities in Massachusetts are active in college athletics. There are a number of NCAA Division I members in the state for multiple sports: Boston College , Boston University, Northeastern University, Harvard University, College of the Holy Cross, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Outdoor recreation

Boating activities such as sailing and yachting are popular all along the Massachusetts coast and its offshore islands. Hiking and cross-country skiing are also popular activities in many of the states undeveloped lands. The Appalachian Trail, the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, the Midstate Trail, and the Bay Circuit Trail are all long distance hiking trails that run the length of the state. The Tully Trail, an 18-mile loop in the North Quabbin Region (through the towns of Athol, Orange, Warwick and Royalston) incorporates waterfalls and vistas. A handful of downhill skiing operators still maintain slopes here, although many skiiers drive to major resorts in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine for the weekend. Sport fishing still remains a strong outdoor activity. Spincasting during the warmer months and ice fishing during winter on inland lakes and ponds, Flyfishing inland rivers for trout, surf casting for striped bass and bluefish and deep sea fishing for cod and haddock all remain popular. Hunting, primarily for whitetail deer and waterfowl continues to attract a number of residents.


See also