Amherst (/ˈæmərst/ (listen)) is a town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Connecticut River valley. As of the 2010 census, the population was 37,819, making it the highest populated municipality in Hampshire County (although the county seat is Northampton). The town is home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, three of the Five Colleges. The name of the town is pronounced without the h ("AM-erst"), giving rise to the local saying, "only the 'h' is silent", in reference both to the pronunciation and to the town's politically active populace.
Amherst is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. Lying 22 miles (35 km) north of the city of Springfield, Amherst is considered the northernmost town in the Hartford-Springfield Metropolitan Region, "The Knowledge Corridor".
Location in Hampshire County in Massachusetts
Location in Hampshire County in Massachusetts
Amherst (the United States)
Amherst (North America)
|Incorporated||February 13, 1759|
|• Total||27.7 sq mi (71.8 km2)|
|• Land||27.6 sq mi (71.5 km2)|
|• Water||0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)|
|Elevation||295 ft (90 m)|
|• Density||1,370/sq mi (529.0/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (Eastern)|
01002, 01003 (UMass), 01004 (post office boxes), 01059 (North Amherst post office)
|GNIS feature ID||0618195|
The earliest known document of the lands now comprising Amherst is the deed of purchase dated December 1658 between John Pynchon of Springfield and three native inhabitants, referred to as Umpanchla, Quonquont, and Chickwalopp. According to the deed, "ye Indians of Nolwotogg (Norwottuck) upon ye River of Quinecticott (Connecticut)" sold the entire area in exchange for "two Hundred fatham of Wampam & Twenty fatham, and one large Coate at Eight fatham wch Chickwollop set of, of trusts, besides severall small giftes" [sic].
Amherst was first visited by Europeans as early as 1665 when Nathaniel Dickinson (the great great grandfather of poet Emily Dickinson) surveyed the lands for its mothertown Hadley. The first permanent English settlements arrived in 1727, and it was part of Hadley, even when it gained precinct status in 1734. It eventually gained township in 1759.
When it incorporated, the colonial governor assigned the town the name "Amherst" after Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst. Many colonial governors at the time scattered his name amidst the influx of new town applications, which is why several towns in the Northeast bear the name. Amherst was a hero of the French and Indian War who, according to popular legend, singlehandedly won Canada for the British and banished France from North America. Popular belief has it that he supported the American side in the Revolutionary War and resigned his commission rather than fight for the British. Baron Amherst actually remained in the service of the Crown during the war—albeit in Great Britain rather than North America—where he organized the defense against the proposed Franco-Spanish Armada of 1779. Nonetheless, his previous service in the French and Indian War meant he remained popular in New England. Amherst is also infamous for recommending, in a letter to a subordinate, the use of smallpox-covered blankets in warfare against the Native Americans along with any "other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race". For this reason, there have been occasional ad hoc movements to rename the town. Suggested new names have included "Emily", after Emily Dickinson.
Amherst celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. The Amherst 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee and Amherst Historical Society organized events, including a book published by the Historical Society and written by Elizabeth M. Sharpe, Amherst A to Z.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Amherst has a total area of 27.7 square miles (71.8 km2), of which 27.6 square miles (71.5 km2) are land and 0.12 square miles (0.3 km2), or 0.48%, are water. The town is bordered by Hadley to the west, Sunderland and Leverett to the north, Shutesbury, Pelham, and Belchertown to the east, and Granby and South Hadley to the south. The highest point in the town is on the northern shoulder of Mount Norwottuck at the southern border of the town; the peak is in Granby but the town's high point is a few yards away and is about 1,100 feet (340 m). The town is nearly equidistant from both the northern and southern state lines.
Amherst has a humid continental climate that under the Köppen system marginally falls into the warm-summer category (dfb). It is interchangeable with the hot-summer subtype dfa with July means hovering around 71.4 °F (21.9 °C). Winters are cold and snowy, albeit daytime temperatures often remain above freezing. Under the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone system, Amherst (zip 01002) is in zone 5b; however, Amherst closely borders zone 6a, which penetrates into Massachusetts in the Connecticut River Valley, and climate change may be shifting those zones.
|* = population estimate |
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.
As of the 2010 U.S. Census, there were 37,819 people, 9,259 households, and 4,484 families residing in the town. There were 9,711 housing units. The racial makeup of the town was 76.9% White, 5.4% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 10.9% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.4% some other race, and 4.1% from two or more races. 7.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Of the 9,259 households in the town, 23.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.6% were headed by married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% were non-families. Of all households, 27.3% were made up of individuals, and 9.7% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.88.
In the town, 10.0% of the population were under the age of 18, 55.7% were from 18 to 24, 13.3% were from 25 to 44, 13.6% were from 45 to 64, and 7.4% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 21.6 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.
For the period 2011-15, the estimated median annual income for a household in the town was $48,059, and the median income for a family was $96,005. Male full-time workers had a median income of $64,750 versus $39,278 for females. The per capita income for the town was $18,905. About 8.7% of families and 34.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.2% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
The reason for the large population living below the poverty line is the large number of students that live in Amherst. According to the 2010 5-year American Community Survey estimates, occupied housing units had a median household income of $50,063, which includes both renter and owner-occupied units. More specifically, owner-occupied units had a median income of $100,208, while renter-occupied housing units had a median income of $23,925. Large disparities in income between the two groups could explain the high poverty rate and lower median income, as students are the primary tenants of renter-occupied units within Amherst.
Of residents 25 years old or older, 41.7% have a graduate or professional degree, and only 4.9% did not graduate from high school. The largest industry is education, health, and social services, in which 51.9% of employed persons work.
These statistics given above include some but not all of the large student population, roughly 30,000 in 2010, many of whom only reside in the town part of the year. Amherst is home to thousands of part-time and full-time residents associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, and Hampshire College and many of those students are involved with the liberal politics of the town.
|Rank||ZIP Code (ZCTA)||Per capita
|2||01003 (UMass Amherst Campus)||$3,531||$N/A||$N/A||11,032||16|
Amherst's town council consists of ten district councilors and three councilors-at-large. Two district councilors are elected from each of five districts in Amherst. The three councilors-at-large are elected by the whole town. Each councilor serves a two year term, except for the first council where each member will serve a three year term.
Amherst also has the following elected bodies:
Amherst also has a five member Housing Authority where three of the five members are elected by voters. Each member serves a two year term.
|Town Council Members|
|Councilor-at-Large||Mandi Jo Hanneke||At-Large||2018|
|District Councilor||Sarah Swartz||1||2018|
|District Councilor||Cathy Schoen||1||2018|
|District Councilor||Lynn Griesemer||2||2018|
|District Councilor||Patricia De Angelis||2||2018|
|District Councilor||Dorothy Pam||3||2018|
|District Councilor||George Ryan||3||2018|
|District Councilor||Evan Ross||4||2018|
|District Councilor||Stephen Schreiber||4||2018|
|District Councilor||Shalini Bahl-Milne||5||2018|
|District Councilor||Darcy Dumont||5||2018|
The Town converted from an open town meeting to a representative town meeting form in 1938. In 1953, Amherst voters passed the "Town Manager Act", which established the office of a town manager and reduced a number of elected positions. In 1995, a charter commission was approved to study Amherst's government; the charter majority recommended a 7-person Council and a mayor, while also maintaining a reduced size representative Town Meeting (150). This proposal failed in two successive votes.
In 2001, the League of Women Voters Amherst made a number of recommendations that were adopted in 2001 in the form of a revised "Amherst Town Government Act". An effort shortly thereafter to amend the charter to eliminate the town meeting, and establish an elected mayor and a nine-member Town Council, was rejected by voters twice, first in spring 2003 by fourteen votes and again on March 29, 2005 by 252 votes.
In 2016, a "charter commission" was approved to study Amherst's government. A majority of commissioners proposed a charter that would establish a 13-member Council with no mayor. This proposal was voted on the March 27, 2018 local ballot, and was passed by over 1,000 votes, a 58% majority. The new town council was sworn in on December 2, 2018.
In the Massachusetts General Court, Amherst is in the "Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester" Senatorial District, previously represented by Democratic State Senator Stanley Rosenberg until his resignation in 2018. Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose, elected September 8, 2016, as a Democrat, currently represents Amherst for the 3rd Hampshire District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Goldstein-Rose withdrew from the Democratic Party in February, 2018 to become an independent representative.
Amherst is represented at the federal level by an all-Democratic delegation, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and by Representative Jim McGovern of the Second Congressional District of Massachusetts.
Voter registration data is from the state election enrollment statistics.
|Registered Voters and Party Enrollment |
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, funded by local governments and the Five College Consortium, provides public transportation in the area, operated by University of Massachusetts Transportation Services. Service runs well into the early morning hours on weekends when school is in session. Students attending any colleges in the Five Colleges Consortium have a fee included in their tuition bills (service fee for UMass Amherst students and student activity fees for the other colleges) for each semester that prepays their bus fares for the semester. UMass Transit buses operate via a proof-of-payment system, in which there are random inspections of student identification cards and bus passes and transfers.
Peter Pan Bus Lines provides service between Amherst and Springfield, Boston, and other locations in New England. Megabus provides service between New York City, Amherst, and Burlington, Vermont.
Amtrak rail service is available in nearby Northampton on the Vermonter service between Washington D.C. and St. Albans, Vermont. More frequent Amtrak service to New York City and Washington, D.C., is available from Union Station in Springfield.
The closest major domestic and limited international air service is available through Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Bradley is located approximately one hour's driving time from Amherst. Major international service is available through Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston, 90 miles away.
The town is served by the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District, which also serves students from several other communities surrounding Amherst.
There are three tertiary institutions located in the town: the public University of Massachusetts Amherst (the flagship of the UMass system) and two private liberal arts colleges Amherst College and Hampshire College.
Brentlinger, a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, was robustly and proudly alienated from American society and culture...he has probably benefited from living amidst like-minded people in what has been jestingly called 'the people's republic of Amherst, Mass.'
I come to you from one of those places that is in America, but not quite of it...In my case it is the People's Republic of Amherst
I live in a place whose liberal tendencies have earned it various nicknames. For example, it has been called 'The People's Republic of Amherst'
The 1980 Amherst, Massachusetts water shortage was a water crisis in Amherst, Massachusetts that amongst other things, closed the University of Massachusetts Amherst for three days. It came at a time when communities across the state were experiencing water crises of their own in the region's worst drought since 1965.Alumni Field (Amherst, Massachusetts)
Alumni Field was a multi-purpose stadium in Amherst, Massachusetts on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It was home to the UMass Redmen football team from around 1879 to 1964, when it was replaced by Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium in nearby Hadley, Massachusetts. Today, the former location of the field is the location of the Philip F. Whitmore Administration Building.Amherst Mammoths football
The Amherst Mammoths represent Amherst College of Amherst, Massachusetts in the sport of college football. The football team is coached by E. J. Mills. Amherst is one of the "Little Three," along with Williams College and Wesleyan University.Amherst Regional High School (Massachusetts)
Amherst Regional High School (ARHS) is a secondary school in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States, for students in grades 9–12. Together with Amherst Regional Middle School, it makes up the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District, which comprises the towns of Amherst, Pelham, Leverett, and Shutesbury, Massachusetts. Its official colors are maroon and white. ARHS's current interim principal is Miki Gromacki.Campus Pond (Amherst, Massachusetts)
The Campus Pond at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a pond located in the center of campus that was created in the early 1890s. It is bordered to the south by the Fine Arts Center.Edward Dickinson
Edward Dickinson (January 1, 1803 – June 16, 1874) was an American politician from Massachusetts. He is also known as the father of the poet Emily Dickinson; their family home in Amherst, the Dickinson Homestead, is now a museum dedicated to her.Ellen Moran
Ellen Moran is the Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Communications and Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh. She previously served as Chief of Staff at the US Department of Commerce under Secretary Gary Locke from April 2009 to August 2011. She previously held the position of White House Communications Director. Her predecessor was Kevin Sullivan, who held the position under the Bush administration. Prior to her post at the White House, she was executive director of EMILY's List.Fine Arts Center (Amherst, Massachusetts)
The Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (FAC) is an arts center located just north of downtown Amherst, Massachusetts and contains a concert hall and a contemporary art gallery. The building is a 646-foot-long bridge of studio art space, raised up 30 feet from the ground creating a monumental gateway for a campus.The Fine Arts Center serves as a cultural library and regional resource center for the citizens of the Pioneer Valley and the students and faculty from the University of Massachusetts. It also attracts scholars, faculty, students, and families interested in relocating to a community with this type of rich environment.Gavin Andresen
Gavin Andresen (born Gavin Bell) is a software developer best known for his involvement with bitcoin. He is based in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Originally a developer of 3D graphics and virtual reality software, he became involved in developing products for the bitcoin market in 2010, and was declared by Satoshi Nakamoto as the lead developer of the reference implementation for bitcoin client software after Satoshi Nakamoto had announced his departure. In 2012 he founded the Bitcoin Foundation to support and nurture the development of the bitcoin currency, and by 2014 left his software development role to concentrate on his work with the Foundation.J Mascis
Joseph Donald Mascis Jr. (; born December 10, 1965) is an American musician, best known as the singer, guitarist and main songwriter for the alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr. He has also released several albums as a solo artist and played drums and guitar on other projects. His most recent solo album, Elastic Days, was released in November 2018. He was ranked number 86 in a Rolling Stone list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists", and number 5 in a similar list for Spin magazine in 2012.North Amherst, Massachusetts
North Amherst is a census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Amherst in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 6,819 at the 2010 census, up from 6,019 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.Old Chapel (Amherst, Massachusetts)
Old Chapel, formerly known as the Old Chapel Library is a former library on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst that is on the National Register of Historic Places.Osmyn Baker
Osmyn Baker (May 18, 1800 – February 9, 1875) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.
Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, Baker attended Amherst Academy.
He was graduated from Yale College in 1822.
He studied law at Northampton Law School.
He was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Amherst in 1825.
He served as member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives 1833, 1834, 1836, and 1837.
County commissioner of Hampshire County, Massachusetts 1834–1837.
Baker was elected as a Whig to the Twenty-sixth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of James C. Alvord.
Baker was reelected to the Twenty-seventh and Twenty-eighth Congresses and served from January 14, 1840, to March 3, 1845.
He served as chairman of the Committee on Accounts (Twenty-seventh Congress).
He was not a candidate for renomination in 1844.
He resumed the practice of law at Northampton in 1845.
Baker was the first president of Smith Charities, serving from 1860 to 1870.
He died in Northampton, Massachusetts, February 9, 1875.
He was interred in Bridge Street Cemetery.Ray Stannard Baker
Ray Stannard Baker (April 17, 1870 in Lansing, Michigan – July 12, 1946 in Amherst, Massachusetts) (also known by his pen name David Grayson) was an American journalist, historian, biographer, and author.Silas Wright
Silas Wright Jr. (May 24, 1795 – August 27, 1847) was an American attorney and Democratic politician. A member of the Albany Regency, he served as a member of the United States House of Representatives, New York State Comptroller, United States Senator, and Governor of New York.
Born in Amherst, Massachusetts and raised in Weybridge, Vermont, Wright graduated from Middlebury College in 1815, studied law, attained admission to the bar, and began a practice in Canton, New York. He soon began a career in politics and government, serving as St. Lawrence County's surrogate judge, a member of the New York State Senate, and a brigadier general in the state militia.
Wright became a member of the Albany Regency, the coterie of friends and supporters of Martin Van Buren who led New York's Democratic Party beginning in the 1820s. As his career progressed, he served in the United States House of Representatives (1827-1829), as State Comptroller (1829-1833), and U.S. Senator (1833-1844). In the Senate, Wright became chairman of the Finance Committee, a post he held from 1836 to 1841. In 1844, Van Buren lost the Democratic presidential nomination to James K. Polk; Polk supporters offered to nominate Wright for vice president as a way to attract Van Buren's support to the ticket, but Wright declined. Later that year he was elected governor, and he served one two-year term. Defeated for reelection in 1846, he retired to his home in Canton. He died in Canton in 1847, and was buried at Old Canton Cemetery.South Amherst, Massachusetts
South Amherst is a census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Amherst in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 4,994 at the 2010 census. The CDP includes the village of South Amherst and residential subdivisions south of the Amherst town center.
South Amherst is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.Theodore Baird Residence
The Theodore Baird Residence, also known as Baird House, is a suburban house designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and located at 38 Shays Street in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States. It is the only Wright design in Massachusetts.The Usonian house was planned and built in 1940 for Amherst College English professor Theodore Baird. The Bairds became interested in Wright's work after reading his autobiography, and submitted a commission to him. Wright produced drawings based on the Baird's description of their lifestyle and a description of the lot. They were unable to locate contractors in the area who were able to do the work, so the construction work was done by Wright protégé William Wesley Peters. Part of the construction work was done at a factory in New Jersey, and moved to Amherst for final assembly. The house was the only Usonian for which the materials were prefabricated before being brought to the site.It is a single-family house with brick, cypress wood and glass façades and a flat roof highly cantilevered over a carport. Heating is conveyed by pipes distributing hot water through the concrete floor. There are also three fireplaces, one in the master bedroom and another with a single chimney and two grates which is divided by a partition wall separating the living room and study. The building includes an in-law apartment for Baird's mother, which is located at the opposite end of the house from the Bairds' quarters. Wright's design also included a dedicated space for the Bairds' dog, including a dog run and doghouse.The house is set back about 250 feet (76 m) from the road. The property, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, also includes a 4-acre (1.6 ha) woodlot that extends behind the house and neighboring properties on Shays Road.UMass Minutemen baseball
The UMass Minutemen baseball team is a varsity intercollegiate athletic team of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States. The team is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, which is part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I. Massachusetts' first baseball team was fielded in 1877. The team plays its home games at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst, Massachusetts. The Minutemen are coached by Matt Reynolds.WAMH
WAMH (89.3 FM) is a radio station occasionally broadcasting an alternative rock format. It is licensed to Amherst, Massachusetts, United States, and the station is owned by Amherst College. Programming has included independent artists, news, college sports, and live local music. Since September 2015, when the college is in session the station splits broadcast time between student programming from 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. and a relay of NEPR News Network broadcasting at other hours.
The station is federally licensed (authorized by the FCC) and non-commercial, and is under the supervision of the Amherst College Board of Trustees.
WAMH broadcasts from an antenna adjacent to the WFCR tower on Mount Lincoln in Pelham, Massachusetts. Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems ratings as of January 2018 found that over 3,500 listeners tune in to WAMH during the 10 hours of student programming each day.
|Climate data for Amherst, Massachusetts (1981–2010 normals)|
|Record high °F (°C)||70
|Average high °F (°C)||34.6
|Average low °F (°C)||13.2
|Record low °F (°C)||−30
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.31
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||12.7
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||10.2||8.6||10.1||10.9||12.5||11.5||10.4||10.0||9.0||9.8||10.2||10.1||123.3|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||5.5||4.0||2.7||.4||0||0||0||0||0||.1||1.0||3.4||17.1|
Municipalities and communities of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States
‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent county or counties