Geography of Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the 7th smallest state in the United States with an area of 10,555 square miles (27,340 km2).[1] It is bordered to the north by New Hampshire and Vermont, to the west by New York, to the south by Connecticut and Rhode Island, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Massachusetts is the most populous New England state.

Massachusetts is nicknamed "The Bay State" because of several large bays, which distinctly shape its coast: Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay, to the east; Buzzards Bay, to the south; and several cities and towns on the Massachusetts–Rhode Island border sit adjacent to Mount Hope Bay. At the southeastern corner of the state is a large, sandy, arm-shaped peninsula, Cape Cod. The islands Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket lie south of Cape Cod, across Nantucket Sound. Central Massachusetts features rolling, rocky hills, while Western Massachusetts encompasses a fertile valley and mountains surrounding the Connecticut River, as well as the Berkshire Mountains.

Boston is Massachusetts' largest city, at the inmost point of Massachusetts Bay, the mouth of the Charles River. Most Bay Staters live in the Boston area, which covers most of eastern Massachusetts. Eastern Massachusetts is fairly densely populated and mostly suburban. Western Massachusetts features both the Connecticut River Valley - a fairly even mix of urban enclaves (e.g. Springfield, Northampton,) and rural college towns (Amherst, South Hadley) - and the Berkshire Mountains, (a branch of the Appalachian Mountains) that remains mostly rural.

Massachusetts has 351 cities and towns. Every part of the state is within an incorporated city or town, but many towns include large rural areas. The state's 14 counties have few government functions and serve as little more than judicial districts.

Pioneer Valley South From Mt. Sugarloaf
Part of the north-central Pioneer Valley in Sunderland, much more rural than Springfield, in the southern part of the valley, or Boston, which is on the coast.


In Eastern Massachusetts, Boston is located at the innermost point of Massachusetts Bay, at the mouth of the Charles River. The Charles River is longest river located entirely within Massachusetts, (although the Westfield River can be considered longer if one combines its upper and lower branches); however, the Connecticut River is the Commonwealth's—and New England's—longest, and most significant river.[2] Most of the population of the Boston metropolitan area (approximately 4.4 million) lives outside of the city proper. The City of Boston itself is densely urban. Generally, Eastern Massachusetts, including and surrounding Boston, is densely populated. Boston's suburbs stretch as far west as the City of Worcester in Central Massachusetts.

Central Massachusetts encompasses Worcester County, which is hilly and rocky. It features the urban city of Worcester, and the smaller cities of Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner, and Southbridge. Central Massachusetts also includes many rural hill towns, forests, and small farms. The geographic center of Massachusetts is in the town of Rutland, in central Worcester County.[2] The Quabbin Reservoir (formed by the dammed Swift River—a former Connecticut River tributary), borders the western side of the county; it is the main water supply for Greater Boston.[3][4]

The Connecticut River Valley features Massachusetts'—and some of the northeastern United States'—richest soil, due to Ice Age deposits by glacial Lake Hitchcock.[5] The lower (southern) Connecticut River Valley features the city of Springfield, which sits a mere five miles (8 km) north of the Connecticut border at the confluence of three of Massachusetts' most significant rivers: the Connecticut (flowing north-south); the Westfield (flowing into the Connecticut from the west); and the Chicopee (flowing into the Connecticut from the east). Only 24 miles (39 km) separate Springfield from the State of Connecticut's capital city, Hartford—the Springfield-Hartford region is the second most populous region in New England (with approximately 1.9 million residents). Other cities in the Massachusetts portion of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield arm of the Northeast megapolis include: Chicopee, Agawam, West Springfield, Westfield, Holyoke, and the college towns of Northampton, Amherst, and South Hadley.

Further west rises a range of rolling, purple mountains known as the Berkshires. Near the New York border, the Taconic and Hoosac Ranges cross into Massachusetts; however, in general, the area is known as The Berkshires. The region was populated by Native Americans until the 18th century when Scotch-Irish settlers arrived, after having found the fertile lowlands along the Connecticut River settled. On reaching the Berkshires, settlers found poor soil for farming, but discovered numerous fast-moving rivers for industry. Pittsfield and North Adams grew into small, albeit prosperous cities. A number of smaller mill towns exist along the Westfield and Housatonic Rivers, interspersed with wealthy vacation resort towns.

The National Park Service administers a number of natural and historical sites in Massachusetts.[6] Along with twelve national historic sites, areas, and corridors, the National Park Service also manages the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.[6] In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation maintains a number of parks, trails, and beaches throughout the commonwealth.[7][8][9]

Physical geography

Massachusetts Relief 1
Massachusetts terrain features a low coastal plain in the east, the New England Uplands, the Pioneer Valley, and the Berkshire and Taconic Mountains in the west. Further west rises a range of rolling, purple mountains known as the Berkshires. Near the New York border, the Taconic and Hoosac Ranges cross into Massachusetts; however, in general, the area is known as The Berkshires.

Massachusetts extends from the mountains of the Appalachian system in the west to the sandy beaches and rocky shorelines of the Atlantic coast. The entire state was covered in ice during the Wisconsin glaciation, which shaped today's landscape. Much of the state remains covered in glacial till and dotted with typical glacial features, such as kettle ponds, drumlins, eskers, and moraines. Apart from a few alluvial floodplains, soils tend to be rocky, acidic, and not very fertile.

Part of the state is uplands of resistant metamorphic rock that were scraped by Pleistocene glaciers that deposited moraines and outwash on a large, sandy, arm-shaped peninsula called Cape Cod and the islands Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket to the south of Cape Cod. Upland elevations increase dramatically in Western Massachusetts. These uplands are interrupted by the downfaulted southern Pioneer Valley along the Connecticut River and further west by the Housatonic Valley separating the Berkshire Hills from the Taconic Range along the western border with New York. The highest peak in the state is Mount Greylock at 3,491 feet (1,064 m) near the northwest corner.[10]


Elevation and relief are greatest in the western part of the state and increase somewhat from south to north. The Taconic Mountains, part of the Appalachian system, run along the western border with New York, reaching 2,624 feet (800 meters) at Mount Everett in the state's southwest corner, and including the state's highest point, Mount Greylock, at 3,491 feet (1,064 meters) in the northwest corner. The Housatonic-Hoosic valley separates the Taconics from The Berkshires, a broad belt of steeply rolling hills that are a southern extension of the Green Mountains of Vermont. They extend south to the border of Connecticut. Mount Greylock lies on the western edge of the Taconic Range, across the Hoosic River from the Hoosac Range to the east. The Hoosac Range connects the Green Mountains with the Berkshires.[11]

Mount Greylock, in Berkshire County, is the highest point in Massachusetts, with an elevation of 3,491 feet (1,064 m).

Between the Berkshires and the rest of the state lies the Connecticut River Valley, known within Massachusetts as the Pioneer Valley. This ancient rift valley appeared in the Mesozoic Era when North and South America broke away from Europe and Africa. Dinosaur footprints near Mount Tom bear witness to that era, and series of basalt and sedimentary rock ridges (collectively known as the Metacomet Ridge) including Mount Toby, Mount Holyoke, Mount Tom, and others extending south to Long Island Sound and the valley's abrupt thousand-foot (300 meter) western escarpment illustrate the tectonic forces. More than a hundred million years later, as the Pleistocene epoch ended, receding glaciers left moraines that dammed the Connecticut River, creating Lake Hitchcock. Lacustrine silt deposits replaced soil scraped away by the glaciers, leaving behind deep, productive soil after the river breached the obstructing moraine and the lake disappeared.

East of this valley is an area of rolling uplands dotted with lakes and dissected by streams flowing into the Connecticut River in the west and into the Merrimack, Quinebaug, Blackstone, or Charles rivers, or into other shorter, coastal rivers in the east. Just to the east of the Pioneer Valley, hills rise steeply toward the divide between the Connecticut River basin and the river basins to the east. This divide runs through central Massachusetts, though the summit of Mount Wachusett, the highest point in the state east of the Connecticut River, rising to 2,006 feet (611 meters).

To the east of this divide, the elevation of the hilltops gradually decreases, and the landscape is more gently rolling. Within 30 miles (50 kilometers) of the coast, few hills exceed 300 feet (100 meters) in elevation. Near the coast, swamps, marshes, and ponds alternate with low hills. However, the Blue Hills, just south of Boston, rise above the surrounding landscape. The state probably takes its name from the Massachusett name for their highest point, Great Blue Hill, with an elevation of 635 feet (194 meters).

Coastal landforms of Massachusetts
Coastal landforms in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts coastline is deeply indented with bays, coves, and estuaries, separated by narrow promontories. Some of these form natural harbors that gave rise to the state's historic ports, including Newburyport, Gloucester, Salem, Boston, and New Bedford. The state has a few small barrier islands, the largest of which is Plum Island. The state's largest promontory is the Cape Cod peninsula. Its backbone is formed by glacial moraines, but much of its coastline has been shaped by the longshore drift of coastal sand, which forms many of its famous sandy beaches. To the south of Cape Cod, glacial moraines rise above the ocean surface to form the state's largest islands: Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, the Elizabeth Islands, and Monomoy Island.


Massachusetts map of Köppen climate classification
Massachusetts map of Köppen climate classification.

Massachusetts has a humid continental climate. Summers are warm, while winters are relatively cold, with average January temperatures below freezing throughout most of the state.

Generally, Massachusetts' hilly central interior (e.g. Worcester) and its western Berkshire Mountain region (e.g. Pittsfield) have colder winters than its coastal and Connecticut River Valley regions. Stockbridge, in the Berkshires, has a January average temperature of 21.6 °F (-5.8 °C). In Eastern Massachusetts, Boston, on the coast of Massachusetts Bay, has an average January temperature of 29.0 °F (-1.7 °C). The island of Martha's Vineyard has the state's highest average temperature—31.8 °F (-0.1 C), due to the warming effect of the Atlantic Ocean. Summer temperatures are highest in the state's urban centers, due to the heat island effect. Average July temperatures in Massachusetts' three most populous urban centers are: Boston (coastal) - 81.7 °F (27.6 °C); Worcester (central) - 79.2 °F (26.2 °C); and Springfield (Connecticut River Valley) - 85.0 °F (29.44 °C). By contrast, the coolest average summer temperatures occur in the Berkshires and on the state's offshore islands. The average temperature in August, the warmest month on Nantucket Island, is 68.7 °F (20.4 °C). The average in July in Stockbridge is 68.9 °F (20.5 °C). Both daily and seasonal variation in temperature are greatest in the Berkshires and lowest along the coast.

Precipitation is spread fairly evenly throughout the year in Massachusetts. Boston averages 43 in (1091 mm) of precipitation annually, with a maximum monthly average of 4.3 in (109.2 mm) in November and a minimum monthly average of 2.9 in (73.7 mm) in July. Springfield, in the Pioneer Valley, averages 45.8 in (1163.9 mm) of annual precipitation, with a 4.6 in (116.8 mm) maximum monthly average in June and a 2.7 in (68.6 mm) minimum monthly average in February. Interior Massachusetts tends to have a summer precipitation maximum due to convection in air masses heated over the interior, which gives rise to frequent thunderstorms. These occur less frequently over the coast, due to the relative lack of convection over the cooler ocean waters. On the other hand, cold, dry air masses over the interior of the state tend to suppress winter precipitation.

All regions of Massachusetts experiences substantial snowfall in a typical winter; however, generally, coastal areas (e.g. Boston, Cape Cod,) and the Connecticut River Valley (e.g. Springfield) receive approximately 2/3 the amount of snowfall of central Massachusetts (e.g. Worcester) and the Berkshires (e.g. Pittsfield.) Total annual snowfalls average 43.3 in (110.0 cm) in Boston; 43.2 in (109.7 cm) in Springfield; and 69.1 in (175.5 cm) in Worcester. The ground is often covered with snow for weeks at a time during January and February.

Although Massachusetts has a humid climate, its climate is sunny compared to other humid climates at the same latitude. In Boston, the average percentage of possible sunshine for every month is at least 50%. In summer and early autumn, the average percentage of possible sunshine is greater than 60%, according to National Weather Service data. The hottest temperature recorded was 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.8 degrees Celsius).


The primary biome of inland Massachusetts is temperate deciduous forest.[12] Although much of the state had been cleared for agriculture, leaving only traces of old growth forest in isolated pockets, secondary growth has regenerated in many rural areas as farms have been abandoned.[13][14] The areas most affected by human development include the Greater Boston area in the east, the smaller Springfield metropolitan area in the west, and the largely agricultural Pioneer Valley.[15] Animals that have become locally extinct over the past few centuries include gray wolves, elk, wolverines, and mountain lions.[16]

Charadrius-melodus-004 edit
Many coastal areas in Massachusetts provide breeding areas for species such as the piping plover.

A number of species are doing well, despite, and in some cases because of the increased urbanization of the commonwealth. Peregrine falcons utilize office towers in larger cities as nesting areas,[17] and the population of coyotes, whose diet may include garbage and roadkill, has been increasing in recent decades.[18] White-tailed deer, raccoons, wild turkeys and eastern gray squirrels are also found throughout Massachusetts.[16][19] In more rural areas in the western part of the state, larger mammals such as moose and black bears have returned, largely due to reforestation following the regional decline in agriculture.[20][21]

Massachusetts is located along the Atlantic Flyway, a major route for migratory waterfowl along the Atlantic coast.[22] Lakes in central Massachusetts provide habitat for the common loon,[23] while a significant population of long-tailed ducks winter off Nantucket.[24] Small offshore islands and beaches are home to roseate terns and are important breeding areas for the locally threatened piping plover.[25][26] Protected areas such as the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge provide critical breeding habitat for shorebirds and a variety of marine wildlife including a large population of gray seals.[27]

Freshwater fish species in the commonwealth include bass, carp, catfish, and trout,[28] while saltwater species such as Atlantic cod, haddock and American lobster populate offshore waters.[29] Other marine species include harbor seals, the endangered North Atlantic right whales, as well as humpback whales, fin whales, minke whales and Atlantic white-sided dolphins.[16]


Most of Massachusetts is forested. Even suburban eastern Massachusetts is heavily wooded. Trees tend to grow around houses in this region, such that when one looks out over eastern Massachusetts from the top of a high hill, one sees a vista of treetops, punctuated only occasionally by a church steeple, smokestack, or radio tower.

According to U.S. government data [3], 46% of Massachusetts land is devoted to forest. Another 7% is rural parkland, which is also mainly forested. Urban and suburban development takes up 36% of the state's land, but even this land, outside of the main urban centers, consists largely of houses on wooded properties. About 4% of the state's land is cropland, and less than 1% is pasture. About 2% of the state's land is marsh or other wetland. The remainder of the land is taken up with other uses, such as transportation.

Three ecoregions comprise the natural environment of Massachusetts. Atlantic coastal pine barrens occur on Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard. These are fire-prone temperate coniferous forests growing on the sandy soils of the coastal plain.[30] The other two ecoregions are temperate broadleaf and mixed forests. Across most of the state, including eastern Massachusetts, south central Massachusetts, and the Connecticut River Valley, the Northeastern coastal forests are a mix of hardwood deciduous oak, maple, beech, hickory and coniferous pine trees.[30] In the Berkshires and north central Massachusetts, the more boreal New England-Acadian forests prevail.[30] These consists mainly of coniferous spruce and hemlock, occasional pine, and deciduous birch trees. Roughly since the Civil War, farms have reverted to woodland. Lumbering activity has decreased in recent decades, so the more undisturbed forests have reclaimed some characteristics of old growth.

The forests (and wooded suburbs) are home to a variety of invertebrate and vertebrate animal species. The state has an abundance of white-tailed deer, and there have been concerns about deer overpopulation because many of the deer's natural predators, such as wolves, have historically been hunted to extinction within Massachusetts. However, coyotes have been moving into Massachusetts to fill the ecological niche formerly occupied by wolves. Bears, wild turkey, and even moose have returned from northern refuges. In 1846 Thoreau traveled to Northern Maine to observe and write about moose, which he thought were well on the way to extinction. If he were alive today, he might find them almost within walking distance of Walden Pond.

Pollution, dams, and introduction of exotic species have decimated some native fish populations. Efforts to mitigate these problems and restore Atlantic salmon to the Connecticut River watershed have had very little success. The other widespread native salmonid, the brook trout, persists in cold upland streams, particularly above waterfalls and other barriers that exclude introduced brown and rainbow trout. American shad runs have retained at least a fraction of their former abundance, and smallmouth bass, sunfish, and pike populations are healthy enough to support angling.

Wetlands, including swamps and both salt- and fresh-water marshes, are important ecologically in Massachusetts. Many of the state's fish and bird species inhabit wetland environments.

The state's urban environments are partly wooded but also bear a heavy load of built structures and human environments that are not hospitable to many other species. At the same time, pollutants in waterways, mainly from urban sources, can be toxic to many species or may support algae and bacteria that lead to hypoxia and the death of aquatic animals. However, Greater Boston boasts extensive parklands, and efforts have been made in Massachusetts to reduce environmental pollution in both urban and rural parts of the state.


Map of Massachusetts NA
Map showing the primary cities, roads, and physical features of Massachusetts

The Northeast megalopolis extends into Massachusetts. It occupies most of eastern Massachusetts starting at Worcester as well as the Springfield-Holyoke-Northampton urbanization that joins Connecticut's Hartford-New Haven urbanization.

According to the definitions of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), all of Massachusetts falls within a metropolitan statistical area (MSA), except for the offshore islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. According to 2005 Census estimates, 62% of the population of Massachusetts lives within the Boston MSA. Other Massachusetts metropolitan areas are the Worcester MSA (with 12% of the state's population), the Springfield MSA (11%), the Providence-Fall River-New Bedford MSA (9%), the Barnstable (Cape Cod) MSA (4%), and the Pittsfield MSA (2%).

Massachusetts population map
Massachusetts Population Density Map

In each of these metropolitan areas, population is concentrated in a number of densely populated cities and towns. In the Boston MSA, for example, the City of Boston and a cluster of densely populated inner suburbs within the Route 128 belt account for more than half of the population of the metropolitan area. The older cities of Lawrence, Lowell, and Brockton lie outside this urban core but are also densely populated.

However, population is growing fastest in the outer peripheries of the state's metropolitan areas, where new housing construction is adding dwelling units. While the state as a whole shows little population growth, or even a population decline in some years due to a net loss from migration, the belt of towns along Interstate 495, near the western edge of the Boston MSA, shows steady population growth.

The Springfield and Worcester MSAs include some very thinly populated rural areas. In the Berkshires and in the hills west of Worcester are a number of towns with population densities below 40 per square mile (compared with the state average of 810 per square mile).

Although the U.S. Census Bureau prepares population estimates for MSAs, these statistical units are defined by county borders. Because Massachusetts counties are relatively large and may contain several urban centers, MSAs are an imprecise way to describe the state's urban clusters. For example, Lawrence, Lowell, and Brockton all have closer economic ties with neighboring towns than they do with one another. The Lowell region draws commuters from nearby New Hampshire who might not consider commuting all the way to Boston. Yet these areas are all part of the Boston MSA. Similarly, the cities of Leominster and Fitchburg form the core of a distinct urban cluster. Because they lie within Worcester County, however, they are considered part of the Worcester MSA.

Economic geography

A finer-grained statistical unit than the MSA is the New England City and Town Area, or NECTA. NECTAs take advantage of the administrative subdivision of the entire territory of Massachusetts and other New England states into towns and cities. (No part of Massachusetts is unincorporated county territory.) Each NECTA consists of a cluster of cities and towns defined by commuting patterns, which therefore correspond roughly to local labor markets. While the U.S. Census Bureau defines metropolitan areas by county boundaries, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offers data on employment by NECTA.

By far the largest NECTA in Massachusetts is the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (Greater Boston) NECTA, which covers eastern Massachusetts and extends into southern New Hampshire. This NECTA consists of a central Boston-Cambridge-Quincy NECTA Division, including the City of Boston and the surrounding cities and suburbs. The other satellite NECTA divisions in the Greater Boston NECTA are the Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton NECTA Division, the Framingham NECTA Division, the Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury NECTA Division (extending well into southeastern New Hampshire), the Lawrence-Methuen-Salem NECTA Division (extending into southern New Hampshire), the Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford (or Lowell) NECTA Division (extending into southern New Hampshire), the Lynn-Peabody-Salem NECTA Division, the Nashua NECTA Division (mainly in New Hampshire but including a few Massachusetts towns), and the Taunton-Norton-Raynham NECTA Division.

The other Massachusetts metropolitan NECTAs are the Barnstable Town NECTA (covering most of Cape Cod), the Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner NECTA (in north central Massachusetts), the New Bedford NECTA (in southeastern Massachusetts), the Pittsfield NECTA (in far western Massachusetts), the Springfield NECTA (in the Pioneer Valley and extending into northern Connecticut), and the Worcester NECTA (in central Massachusetts, extending into northeastern Connecticut).

According to the BLS, total nonfarm employment in Massachusetts in 2005 was about 3.2 million. About half of these jobs were located in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy NECTA Division, which lies entirely within Massachusetts, although this NECTA accounted for only about 43% of the state's population, according to 2005 Census estimates. This indicates either a higher labor participation rate in central Greater Boston or a surplus of commuters traveling to work from other parts of Massachusetts or neighboring states. Clearly, Greater Boston dominates the employment and economy of Massachusetts.

The other major centers of employment in Massachusetts are the Springfield and Worcester NECTAs. The Springfield NECTA accounts for slightly more than 10% of the jobs in Massachusetts, while the Worcester NECTA accounts for slightly less than 10% of the state's jobs. (Although both of these NECTAs extend into Connecticut, the towns that they include in Connecticut account for only a small portion of their population and, probably, of their employment).

In every Massachusetts NECTA, service-sector jobs far outnumber goods-producing (natural resources, construction, and manufacturing) jobs. Beyond this generalization, there are some differences in the employment and economic structures of the state's NECTAs and NECTA divisions.

In the far southeastern corner of Massachusetts, the Barnstable Town NECTA, nearly coterminous with the summer resort region of Cape Cod, has an atypical employment structure. It has the lowest share of employment in goods-producing jobs, which account for only 9.5% of its employment. Most of these jobs are in the construction sector. Manufacturing jobs account for only 3.3% of employment, compared with 9.6% for the state as a whole. On the other hand, the Cape Cod NECTA has the state's highest percentages of employment in retail trade (17.9%, versus 11.1% for the state) and in leisure and hospitality (16.9%, versus 9.1% for the state). These numbers reflect the continuing importance to Cape Cod of summer tourism.

The central Boston-Cambridge-Quincy division of the larger NECTA with the same name also has a relatively low percentage (6.7%) of manufacturing employment. Although this division accounts for about half of the state's total employment, it has only about a third of the state's manufacturing jobs. Its largest manufacturing subsector is the production of computers and electronic products (28% of the division's manufacturing jobs). This subsector is centered not in Boston's urban core, but in the suburbs to the north and west, along Route 128. The economy of central Greater Boston is even more biased toward service provision than that of the rest of the state.

The particular economic strength of central Greater Boston is knowledge-intensive activities. It accounts for 62.2% of the state's information sector jobs, and 66.0% of the jobs in the software-publishing subsector. Central Greater Boston has 68.8% of the state's financial sector jobs, and 92.5% of the jobs in the investment subsector. It has 69.3% of the state's jobs in management and technical consulting. Greater Boston is noted nationwide for its prestigious institutions of higher education, such as Harvard University and MIT, and the region is home to 77.8% of the state's higher-education employment. Together, the knowledge-intensive information, financial, professional and business services, and education sectors account for 36.6% of the jobs in central Greater Boston, compared with 28.8% of the jobs in Massachusetts as a whole and 23.2% for the United States as a whole.

The satellite NECTA divisions that lie on the periphery of the Greater Boston NECTA all have higher percentages of employment in manufacturing than central Greater Boston or than Massachusetts as a whole. Many of these satellite NECTA divisions are centered on historic manufacturing cities, such as Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, and Brockton. The BLS breaks down manufacturing employment only for the Framingham and Lowell NECTA divisions, to the west and northwest of Boston, respectively. In both of these divisions, computer and electronics manufacturing accounts for well over half of manufacturing employment. Except for Lowell, these satellite NECTA divisions also have higher shares of employment in retail trade than central Greater Boston or Massachusetts as a whole. These divisions, located along the major highways radiating from Boston, are particularly rich in shopping centers and wholesalers. The Lowell and Framingham divisions have even higher shares of employment in the information sector than central Greater Boston. This reflects the strength of these regions in the software publishing and telecommunications subsectors. On the other hand, these satellite divisions have lower shares of employment in financial services and in health and education services than the state average, reflecting the regional dominance of central Greater Boston in these areas. The Framingham division, however, has the state's highest percentage of jobs in professional and business services (18.5% of employment versus 14.4% statewide), reflecting that region's strength in technology.

The New Bedford NECTA has the state's second-highest percentage (16.6%) of manufacturing employment. It has the state's lowest percentages of employment in the financial sector (3.1%) and in professional and business services (6.25%).

The Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner NECTA has the state's highest percentage (17.8%) of manufacturing employment. It has by far the state's lowest percentage of employment (1.0%) in the information sector and the second-lowest rate of employment in professional and business services (6.73%). On the other hand, this NECTA has the state's highest percentage of employment (16.4%) in government.

The Worcester NECTA has a relatively high percentage (12.0%) of employment in manufacturing. Next to the Barnstable Town NECTA, it has a high percentage (14.9%) of employment in the healthcare sector. It has the lowest percentage of employment (8.7%) in the leisure and hospitality sector, reflecting the relative underdevelopment of its tourism industry.

The Springfield NECTA also has relatively high (12.9%) manufacturing employment. It has the state's largest percentage of employment in the transportation and utilities subsector (4.5%, versus 2.6% for the state as a whole). It has the second-highest percentage (16.3%) of jobs in government.

Despite the small size of the Pittsfield NECTA, its employment by sector is similar to that of Massachusetts as a whole for most sectors. However, it has the state's highest percentage of employment (20.4%) in the education and healthcare sector. It also has the second-highest share of employment (13.2%) in the leisure and hospitality sector. This reflects the importance of tourism in the Berkshires to the region's economy.

See also


  1. ^ "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density (geographically ranked by total population): 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  2. ^ "Charles River Watershed". Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  3. ^ The North Quabbin Woods:
  4. ^ "Massachusetts Cities and Towns" (PDF). (390 KB) (map; see text on map). Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved January 14, 2007.
  5. ^ "Forever Farmland Initiative". Forever Farmland Initiative.
  6. ^ a b "Massachusetts". National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  7. ^ "Massachusetts State Parks". Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  8. ^ "Trail Maps". Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  9. ^ "Getting Wet!". Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  10. ^ "Elevations and Distances in the United States". U.S Geological Survey. 29 April 2005. Retrieved November 6, 2006.
  11. ^ Forest Physiography: Physiography of the United States and Principles of Soils in Relation to Forestry, Isaiah Bowman (New York: Wiley and Sons, 1911): p. 681.
  12. ^ "A Short Introduction to Terrestrial Biomes". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  13. ^ Stocker, Carol. Old growth, grand specimens drive big-tree hunters [1] The Boston Globe. Novemberttp://
  14. ^ "Massachusetts Forests". MassWoods Forest Conservation Program — The University of Massachusetts. Archived from the original on 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
  15. ^ "Northeastern Coastal Zone — Ecoregion Description". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  16. ^ a b c "State Mammal List". Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  17. ^ "Peregrine Falcon" (PDF). Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  18. ^ "Eastern Coyote in Massachusetts". Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  19. ^ "Wild Turkey in Massachusetts" (PDF). Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  20. ^ "Moose in Massachusetts". Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  21. ^ "Black Bears in Massachusetts". Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  22. ^ "Atlantic Flyway". University of Nebraska. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  23. ^ "Common Loon" (PDF). Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
  24. ^ "Telemetry Research:Long-Tailed Ducks". Mass Audubon. Archived from the original on 2010-07-08. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
  25. ^ "Roseate Tern" (PDF). Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
  26. ^ "Coastal Waterbird Program". Mass Audubon. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
  27. ^ "Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge - Wildlife and Habitat". United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Archived from the original on 2010-06-24. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  28. ^ "Best Bets for Fishing". Massachusetts Division of Wildlife & Fisheries. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  29. ^ "Species Profiles". Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  30. ^ a b c Olson, D. M, E. Dinerstein; et al. (2001). "Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World: A New Map of Life on Earth". BioScience. 51 (11): 933–938. doi:10.1641/0006-3568(2001)051[0933:TEOTWA]2.0.CO;2. Archived from the original on January 25, 2010.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

External links

Barre Turnpike

The Barre Turnpike was one of over 60 toll roads in operation throughout Massachusetts in the first half of the 19th century. As described in the Act of Incorporation, February 5, 1822, the road ran

from the Common, near the meeting house in Barre; thence easterly, in the best course to Hubbardston line thence through the southerly part of Hubbardston, in the best direction to Princeton line; thence, in the best course, through part of Princeton, and through the land of David Rice; and thence through land of Jason Woodward, to a road crossing a town road, and to a road leading to Edward Goodenow's.

“Edward Goodenow’s” was an inn located on Goodnow Road in Princeton, Massachusetts approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northwest of the center of Princeton. It is the present-day location of the Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary of the Mass Audubon.

The turnpike era in Massachusetts began in 1796 with the incorporation of the First Massachusetts Turnpike, which ran from Warren through Palmer to Wilbraham. However, by 1807 the turnpike movement in New England was passing its peak. After 1808 the number of charters granted and the mileage under construction declined.

Demographics of Massachusetts

Massachusetts has an estimated 2017 population of 6.833 million. As of 2015, Massachusetts is estimated to be the third most densely populated U.S. state, with 822.7 per square mile, after New Jersey and Rhode Island, and ahead of Connecticut and Maryland.

Massachusetts has seen both population increases and decreases in recent years. For example, while some Bay Staters are leaving, others including European, Asian, Hispanic, African and Middle Eastern immigrants, arrive to replace them. Massachusetts in 2004 included 881,400 foreign-born residents.

Most Bay Staters live within a 60-mile radius of the State House on Beacon Hill, often called Greater Boston: the City of Boston, neighboring cities and towns, the North Shore, South Shore, the northern, western, and southern suburbs, and most of southeastern and central Massachusetts. Eastern Massachusetts is more urban than Western Massachusetts, which is primarily rural, save for the cities of Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke and Northampton, which serve as centers of population density in the Pioneer Valley of the Connecticut River. The center of population of Massachusetts is located in Middlesex County, in the town of Natick.

Edward Everett Square

Edward Everett Square, in Dorchester, Boston, is the intersection of Columbia Road, Massachusetts Avenue, East Cottage Street and Boston Street, that was named in 1894 after a former Governor of Massachusetts, Edward Everett, who was born near there.In 1995 efforts were undertaken by the local community to redevelop the square, with major milestones being completed in 2007. On June 16 2007, Mayor Thomas M. Menino dedicated the new square marking the completion of the current phase of the project. The centerpiece of the project, a statue by Laura Baring-Gould of a giant Clapp Pear (a variety of pear that was developed in Dorchester in the Nineteenth Century) now sits at the corner of East Cottage Street and Columbia Road.

Estabrook Woods

The Estabrook Woods is a wild tract of more than 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) of woodland, hills, ledge, and swamp two miles (3 km) north of the Town of Concord. It is the largest contiguous and undeveloped woodland within thirty miles of Boston. However, the woods have a history of human disturbance dating back to the Algonquian Native Americans who used controlled burning to clear tracts of land. Later, colonists cleared much of Estabrook for agriculture and pastures, although vegetation has since rejuvenated. The Woods are named for the Estabrook family, prominent in the area since colonial times. The first Estabrook in the area, Capt. Joseph, purchased his farm, now part of Estabrook Woods, from the Pelham family, then of Rhode Island.Henry David Thoreau is intimately associated with this area, which he called Easterbrooks Country. In his Oct. 20, 1857 journal entry, one of several on the woodland, he writes: “What a wild and rich domain that Easterbrooks Country! Not a cultivated, hardly a cultivatable field in it, and yet it delights all natural persons.” The woods are also home to the unimproved Estabrook Road, which Minutemen used at the start of the American Revolutionary War. Today, stone markers mark the path taken by Minuteman traveling south toward Concord.

During the early 20th century, a small number of Concord families began to acquire the land in Estabrook Woods. In 1932, they successfully petitioned the town to close and discontinue the old logging trail known as Old Estabrook Road, ensuring it would be protected from residential development. Around 1965, these families, along with Harvard and Middlesex School, began working together to create a nature preserve, establishing Harvard's Concord Field Station and placing major restrictions on development of many remaining private lands. In 1996, Concord and Carlisle worked together on the "Campaign for Estabrook Woods" which placed an additional 400 acres into conservation.

Estabrook Woods has significant ecological significance to the area.

It provides habitats for five state-listed endangered species: A globally-endangered dragonfly and four Species of Special Concern: the Blue Spotted Salamander, the Elderberry Long horned Beetle, the Spotted Turtle, and the Mystic Valley Amphipod. The woods are also a breeding site of at least three watch list species: the Spotted Salamander, Northern Leopard Frog, and Northern Goshawk.

Estabrook Woods is home to over 159 different species of bird, six species of thrush, four species of owl and ten of hawk.

In 1993 The U.S Secretary of Agriculture Alphonso Michael Espy, honored the entire Estabrook Woods by formally designating it a Forest Legacy Area under an Act of Congress for its environmental values, the presence of rare and endangered species and archeological and historic resources.

In October, 2001, The Massachusetts Office of Environmental Affairs designated the Estabrook Woods as 'core habitat' whose preservation is needed to protect biodiversity.The Estabrook Woods are bordered by Lowell Road to the west, Monument Street to the east, and Bedford Road (Rt. 225) to the north.

Though accessible to the public, most of Estabrook is privately owned by Harvard University (672 acres), Middlesex School (180 acres), and a number of smaller landowners.

Hull Gut

Hull Gut is a gut (a narrow, naturally dredged deep-water channel) about half a mile wide and thirty-five feet deep, in Boston Harbor running between Pemberton Point in Hull and the East Head of Peddocks Island. Along with its sister channel, West Gut, which runs between the West Head of Peddocks Island and Hough's Neck in Quincy, Hull Gut forms the southern entrance to the Inner Harbor connecting it to Hingham Bay. To the north the gut intersects with the deep-water shipping lane Nantasket Roads. Strong cross-currents and often heavy traffic make the gut a dangerous waterway. The channel is used by oil tankers and other freighters bound for industries around the Weymouth Fore River in Braintree, Weymouth, and Quincy and, historically, was used by the shipbuilding industry.

In 1909 Rosie Pitenhof, a fourteen-year-old girl from Dorchester, was the first known person to successfully swim across the gut, from Peddocks Island to the shore at Pemberton in Hull, and back again at flood tide. Miss Pitenhof was in the water twenty-two minutes; nine minutes crossing and thirteen minutes returning.

Index of Massachusetts-related articles

The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to the United States Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

List of mountains in Massachusetts

This is a list of some of the mountains in the U.S. state of Massachusetts, including those in the mountain range known as the Berkshires.

Mount Greylock is the highest point in the state at 3,491 feet (1,064 m) in elevation. As such, no mountains in Massachusetts are recognized by the Appalachian Mountain Club in its list of Four-thousand footers — a list of New England peaks over 4,000 feet with a minimum 200 feet of topographic prominence. Thousands of named summits in Massachusetts (including mountains and hills) are recognized by the USGS.

Massachusetts statistical areas

The statistical areas of the United States of America comprise the metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), the micropolitan statistical areas (μSAs), and the combined statistical areas (CSAs) currently defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Most recently on December 1, 2009, the Office of Management and Budget defined 1067 statistical areas for the United States, including one combined statistical area and six metropolitan statistical areas in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The table below shows the recent population of these statistical areas and the 14 counties of Massachusetts.

Myricks, Massachusetts

Myricks is an association community or populated place (Class Code U6) located in Berkley, Bristol County, Massachusetts at latitude 41.831 and longitude -71.027. The elevation is 62 feet. Myricks appears on the Assonet U.S. Geological Survey Map.

It is also the junction of the railroad from Fall River, New Bedford, and Boston.

The Myricks railway station was a popular stop for vacationers. This stop on the line no longer exits. Near the location of this stop was the Cattle and Agricultural Show that ran for some years towards the end of the 19th century. The buildings were later sold and is now unsettled land off Mill Street.

Outline of Massachusetts

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

Massachusetts – U.S. state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately two-thirds of the state's population lives in Greater Boston, most of which is either urban or suburban. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution and the independence of the United States from Great Britain. Massachusetts is also home to Harvard University, the oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S., founded in 1636.

Outline of geography

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to geography:

Geography – study of earth and its people.

Plymouth Pinelands

The greater Plymouth, Massachusetts area hosts some of the most significant natural ecosystems in the Northeastern United States. Outwash from the last of numerous glacial periods left thick glacial deposits of sand and gravel, providing the geologic foundation for globally rare pine barrens. This fire-adapted forest is home to a host of rare species found almost nowhere else in the world. Interspersed among the 20,000 acres (80 km²) of pine barrens are dozens of remarkable coastal plain ponds. In addition to supporting federally endangered Plymouth Redbelly Turtles and globally rare plant communities, these ponds are windows on the Plymouth/Carver Sole Source Aquifer - the largest drinking water aquifer in the state of Massachusetts.

Southeastern Massachusetts

Southeastern Massachusetts consists of those portions of Massachusetts that are, by their proximity, economically and culturally linked to Providence, Rhode Island as well as Boston. Despite the location of Cape Cod and the islands to its south, which are the southeasternmost parts of the state, they are not always grouped in this designation. At its broadest definition, it includes all of Massachusetts south of Boston and southeast of Worcester.

The Berkshires

The Berkshires (locally ) are a highland geologic region located in the western parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The term "Berkshires" is normally used by locals in reference to the portion of the Vermont-based Green Mountains that extend south into western Massachusetts; the portion extending further south into northwestern Connecticut is locally referred to as either the Northwest Hills or Litchfield Hills.Also referred to as the Berkshire Hills, Berkshire Mountains, and Berkshire Plateau, the region enjoys a vibrant tourism industry based on music, arts, and recreation. Geologically, the mountains are a range of the Appalachian Mountains.

The Berkshires were named among the 200 Last Great Places by The Nature Conservancy.

Time in Massachusetts

Time in Massachusetts, as in all US states, is regulated by the United States Department of Transportation. Massachusetts is in the Eastern Time Zone (ET) and observes daylight saving time (DST).

Independent of daylight saving time, solar noon on the March equinox is about 12:00 in Western Massachusetts and 11:47 in Nantucket to the east. New England, which includes Massachusetts, is one of the few areas in the United States where solar noon is before noon.

In 2016, a committee in the state was formed to consider having Massachusetts adopt Atlantic Standard Time year round to prevent sunsets from occurring before 16:30 and eliminate the need to change clocks at the beginning and end of daylight saving time. The committee submitted its report to the state legislature in November 2017, recommending the move "under certain circumstances". If passed, Massachusetts would use Atlantic Standard Time all year round without daylight saving time. Other New England states are looking into doing the same.

Federal district
Insular areas
Outlying islands
Atlantic Ocean
Gulf of Maine
Long Island Sound
Narragansett Bay
Upper New York Bay
The Berkshires
Holyoke Range
Metacomet Ridge
Mount Tom Range
Pocumtuck Range
Taconic Mountains
Wapack Range


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