North Adams is a city in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. Its population was 13,708 as of the 2010 census,. Best known as the home of the largest contemporary art museum in the United States, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams has in recent years become a center for tourism, culture and recreation.
North Adams, Massachusetts
The north side of Main Street in 2012
"We Hold the Western Gateway"
North Adams, Massachusetts
Location in the United States
|• Type||Mayor-council city|
|• Mayor||Tom Bernard|
|• Total||20.6 sq mi (53.4 km2)|
|• Land||20.3 sq mi (52.7 km2)|
|• Water||0.3 sq mi (0.7 km2)|
|Elevation||707 ft (215 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||660/sq mi (260/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (Eastern)|
|Area code(s)||413 Exchanges: 663, 664|
|GNIS feature ID||0607610|
North Adams was first settled in 1745 during King George's War. During the war, Canadian and Native American forces laid siege to Fort Massachusetts (The Chimney made of stone remains located at the rear of the former Price Chopper Supermarket, which is behind the former Friendly's Restaurant). 30 prisoners were taken to Quebec; half died in captivity.
The town was incorporated separately from Adams in 1878, and reincorporated as a city in 1895. The city is named in honor of Samuel Adams, a leader in the American Revolution, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and governor of Massachusetts.
For much of its history, North Adams was a mill town. Manufacturing began in the city before the Revolutionary War, largely because the confluence of the Hoosic River's two branches provided water power for small-scale industry. By the late 1700s and early 1800s, businesses included wholesale shoe manufacturers; a brick yard; a saw mill; cabinet-makers; hat manufacturers; machine shops for the construction of mill machines; marble works; wagon and sleigh-makers; and an ironworks, which provided the pig iron for armor plates on the Civil War ship, the Monitor.
Expansion westwards started with the creation of three mill Villages, Blackinton in 1821, Greylock in 1846 and Braytonville in 1832, located to take advantage of the Hoosac River's water power. The 1850 census marked the official shift of the town from agriculture to industry, since more factory workers than farmers now resided in the town. The use of Chinese strikebreakers in 1870, from California to break the North Adams strike of shoe workers was a step in the movement of Chinese from the West coast to the East coast, resulting in East coast Chinatowns in the United States. North Adams was also the headquarters for building the Hoosac Tunnel starting in 1851 and completed in 1874, adding an east-west connection to Boston and Albany to the existing 1842 rail connection to New York. Prior to that time, inter-regional travel was limited to weekly stagecoaches from Albany and Greenfield.
Downtown in 1860, Oliver Arnold and Company was established with the latest equipment for printing cloth. Large government contracts to supply fabric for the Union Army helped the business prosper. During the next four decades, Arnold Print Works became one of the world's leading manufacturers of printed textiles. It also became the largest employer in North Adams, with some 3,200 workers by 1905. Despite decades of success, falling cloth prices and the lingering effects of the Great Depression forced the company to close its Marshall Street operation in 1942 and consolidated at smaller facilities in Adams.
Later that year, the Sprague Electric Company bought the former print works site. Sprague physicists, chemists, electrical engineers, and skilled technicians were called upon by the U.S. government during World War II to design and manufacture crucial components of advanced weapons systems, including the atomic bomb.
With state-of-the-art equipment, Sprague was a major research and development center, conducting studies on electricity and semi-conducting materials. After the war, its products were used in the launch systems for Gemini moon missions, and by 1966 Sprague employed 4,137 workers in a community of 18,000. From the post-war years to the mid-1980s, Sprague produced electrical components for the booming consumer electronics market, but competition from abroad led to declining sales and, in 1985, the company closed operations on Marshall Street. Its closure devastated the local economy. Unemployment rates rose and population declined.
After Sprague closed, business and political leaders in North Adams sought ways to re-use the vast complex. Williams College Museum of Art director Thomas Krens, who would later become Director of the Guggenheim, was looking for space to exhibit large works of contemporary art that would not fit in conventional museum galleries. When mayor John Barrett III (serving 1984-2009) suggested the vast Marshall Street complex as a possible exhibition site, the idea of creating a contemporary arts center in North Adams began to take shape.
The campaign to build support for the proposed institution, which would serve as a platform for presenting contemporary art and developing links to the region's other cultural institutions, began in earnest. The Massachusetts legislature announced its support for the project in 1988. Subsequent economic upheaval threatened the project, but broad-based support from the community and the private sector, which pledged more than $8 million, ensured that it moved forward. The eventual proposal used the scale and versatility of the industrial spaces to link the facility's past and its new life as the country's largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts.
Since it opened, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) has been part of a larger economic transformation in the region based on cultural, recreational, and educational offerings. North Adams has become home for several new restaurants, contemporary art galleries, and cultural organizations. In addition, once-shuttered area factories and mills have been rehabilitated as lofts for artists to live and work in.
According to the United States Census Bureau, North Adams has a total area of 20.6 square miles (53.4 km2), of which 20.3 square miles (52.7 km2) is land and 0.27 square miles (0.7 km2), or 1.31%, is water. North Adams is bordered by Clarksburg to the north, Florida to the east, Adams to the south, and Williamstown to the west.
North Adams is located in the valley created by the Hoosic River, which has been walled and floored with concrete in portions to prevent floods. The city's Natural Bridge State Park contains the only natural white marble bridge in North America. Formed by glacial melt by 11,000 BC, the arch and abandoned quarry have long attracted attention from hikers, including Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1838, who wrote of it (among other local features) in his An American Notebook. To the east, the city is bordered by the western face of the Hoosac Range, with visibility on its West Summit extending throughout the tri-state area. To the southwest, the city has the northern end of Mount Greylock State Reservation, ending at Mount Williams, which at 2,951 feet (899 m) above sea level is the highest point in the city. The Appalachian Trail passes through the western part of the city, crossing the summit of Mount Williams and briefly passing through Williamstown before heading north towards Vermont.
North Adams is the western terminus of the Mohawk Trail, which ascends to the West Summit along a steep, curving road. While the trail ends here, Massachusetts Route 2, which the trail is coextensive with, continues westward into Williamstown and towards New York. Route 8 also passes through the city, passing from Adams through the city and northward into Clarksburg. Route 8A, also known as 8A-U (for "upper"), runs parallel to Route 8 east of the main route, and is located entirely within city limits.
The city is the northern terminus of several lines of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) and also has regional service. Intercity bus service is provided in nearby Williamstown by Peter Pan Lines with connections to New York City, as well as towns and cities between. The freight rail line which passes through the city extends through the Hoosac Tunnel towards the east. The nearest passenger rail service to North Adams is the recently re-routed Amtrak Vermonter in Greenfield, Massachusetts, an hour to the east. Pittsfield, to the south, also has once-daily Amtrak service, the Lake Shore Limited, at its station. North Adams is home to Harriman-and-West Airport, a small regional airport. The nearest airport with national service is Albany International Airport.
|* = population estimate. Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.|
As of the census of 2010, there were 13,708 people, 5,652 households, and 3,156 families residing in the city. The city, which is the smallest in Massachusetts, ranks second (after Pittsfield) out of 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County by population. The population density was 665.4 people per square mile (257.2/km²), ranking it 2nd in the county. There were 6,523 housing units at an average density of 316.7 per square mile (122.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.0% White, 1.8% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 0.8% from other races, and 2.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.4% of the population.
There were 5,652 households out of which 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.4% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.2% were non-families. 39.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city, the population was spread out with 21.74% under the age of 18, 16.9% from 18 to 24, 21.4% from 25 to 44, 23.7% from 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.75 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,020, and the median income for a family was $900,00. The per capita income for the city was $19,857. About 9.0% of families and 22.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.0% of those age 20 or over.
North Adams is governed by the mayor-council form of government (List of mayors of North Adams, Massachusetts). The city has its own services, including police, fire and public works. The city's public library is the largest in northern Berkshire County, and has access to the regional library networks.
On the state level, North Adams is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by the First Berkshire district, which covers northern Berkshire County, and is represented by former mayor John Barrett III of North Adams (elected in a special election in November, 2017). In the Massachusetts Senate, the city is represented Sen. Adam Hinds (the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, which includes all of Berkshire County and western Hampshire and Franklin counties). The city is patrolled by the Fourth (Cheshire) Station of Barracks "B" of the Massachusetts State Police.
On the national level, North Adams is represented in the United States House of Representatives as part of Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, and is represented by Richard Neal of Springfield. Massachusetts is currently represented in the United States Senate by senior Senator Elizabeth Warren and junior Senator Ed Markey.
|Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of November 8, 2016|
|Party||Number of Voters||Percentage|
North Adams operates its own public school system, with three elementary schools (Brayton Elementary School, Greylock Elementary School and Colegrove Park Elementary School) and Drury High School, which also serves several neighboring towns. The city is also home to Charles H. McCann Technical High School, as well as several private and parochial schools.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) enrolls about 1,980 students. The most popular programs are English/Communications, Business, Education, History, Fine & Performing Arts, Psychology, and Sociology. Founded in 1894 as North Adams Normal School, in 1932 the Normal School became the State Teachers College of North Adams. In 1960, the college changed its name to North Adams State College and added professional degrees in Business Administration and Education. In 1997, the name changed to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, reflective of specialty school status within the Massachusetts State College system. In recent years, MCLA has begun to develop more academic programming in the fields of fine arts and arts management, reflecting the region's growth as a center of arts and cultural affairs.
Due to North Adams being the location of MASS MoCA, there are numerous art galleries spread throughout the city, and a few of the old mills have been converted to lofts for artists to live and work in. A new, Frank Gehry-designed Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum is proposed to be built in North Adams.
The city is home to the North Adams SteepleCats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL). The SteepleCats play at Joe Wolfe Field in North Adams. The SteepleCats hold the NECBL record for highest single-game attendance. The record was made on July 4, 2006, in a game against the Holyoke Giants in front of 6,714 fans. Holyoke won the game 3-2.
North Adams' first professional sports franchise was the Berkshire Battalion, an expansion team of the Federal Hockey League, which played a single season in 2014-15. Troubled by an embezzlement charge against its coach and general manager, who had also been manager of the municipal skating ring, and fractious lease negotiations with the city, the team relocated after its single season to Dayton, Ohio.
There are many athletic complexes and recreational fields throughout the city, including the Noel Field Athletic Complex, just south of the downtown, and the recently constructed Alcombright Athletic Complex, in the city's west end.
Ashley Bascom Wright (May 25, 1841 – August 14, 1897) was an American politician. He was the chairman of the Committee on Mileage in the fifty-fourth and fifty-fifth congresses.
Wright was born in Hindsdale, Berkshire County, Massachusetts on May 25, 1841. Wright attended public schools and Lincoln Academy at Hinsdale.
He moved to North Adams, Massachusetts in 1861. In that year, he was appointed chief deputy collector of internal revenue for the tenth district of Massachusetts in 1861. He resigned from that position in 1865 to engage in mercantile pursuits.
Wright was elected selectman and commissioner for Berkshire County 1884-1887 and acted as chairman for one year. He was a member of the State executive council in 1890 and 1891 before being elected as a Republican to the fifty-third, fifty-fourth and fifty-fifth congresses, serving from March 4, 1893 until his death.
He died in North Adams, Berkshire County, August 14, 1897. Wright is interred in the Hinsdale Cemetery.Charles H. McCann Technical School
Charles H. McCann Technical School is a technical school located in North Adams, Massachusetts that serves grades 9-12. It serves the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School District made up of the City of North Adams, and the towns of Adams, Williamstown, Cheshire, Lanesborough, Clarksburg, Florida, Savoy, and Monroe, with tuition-based students coming from various other towns. In the high school, during the 2014-2015 school year, McCann had an enrollment of 500 students. McCann also provides a Post Secondary program.Chris Conroy
Christopher Patrick Conroy (born July 22, 1974) is a Major League Baseball (MLB) umpire. He made his MLB debut on September 29, 2010. His uniform number is 98. Conroy was officially promoted to the full-time staff of MLB umpires on June 14, 2013, replacing Brian Runge. At the time of his appointment, Conroy had worked 165 games at the Major League level.Drury High School
Drury High School is a public school in North Adams, Massachusetts. Part of the North Adams Public School District, it serves students in grades 7-12 from North Adams, and the towns of Clarksburg, Florida, Monroe, as well as from the Vermont towns of Readsboro, and Stamford.Frank Vincent
Frank Vincent Gattuso Jr. (April 15, 1937 – September 13, 2017), known professionally as Frank Vincent, was an American actor, musician, and author. He played prominent roles in the HBO series The Sopranos and in several films for director Martin Scorsese: Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), and Casino (1995).Harriman-and-West Airport
Harriman-and-West Airport (ICAO: KAQW, FAA LID: AQW), also known as Harriman & West or Harriman-West, is a public airport located three nautical miles (5 km) west of the central business district of North Adams, a city in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is owned by the City of North Adams and is operated by a five-member Airport Commission.This airport is assigned a three-letter location identifier of AQW by the Federal Aviation Administration, but it does not have an International Air Transport Association (IATA) airport code.Howard Cruse
Howard Cruse (born May 2, 1944) is an American alternative cartoonist known for the exploration of gay themes in his comics. He was the founding editor of Gay Comix in 1980. He also created the gay-themed strip Wendel and graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby.John Barrett (Massachusetts politician)
John Barrett III (born 1947) is an American politician serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He was elected to the post on November 7, 2017, filling the vacant seat previously held by Gailanne Cariddi, who had died of cancer in June 2017. He represents the furthest northwest district in the state, the 1st Berkshire district. Barrett serves on three committees in the chamber: the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, and the Joint Committee on Election Laws. Barrett was reelected to the House of Representatives in 2018.Barrett previously served as the mayor of North Adams for 26 years, from 1984 to 2009, making him at the time the longest-serving mayor in the state. As mayor he was noted for his efforts to revive the city's economy after the closure of a leading employer, Sprague Electric, and as a supporter of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), which opened in the former Sprague facility in 1999. In his 2009 bid for a fourteenth term, he was defeated by council member Dick Alcombright. He won a term on the city council in 2011, then lost to Alcombright in another run for mayor in 2015.He attended North Adams State College, now known as Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), from which he received bachelor's and master's degrees as well as an honorary doctor of public service degree and the distinguished alumni award, and in 2016 he was named to MCLA's board of trustees.John Henry Schwarz
John Henry Schwarz (; born November 22, 1941) is an American theoretical physicist. Along with Yoichiro Nambu, Holger Bech Nielsen, Joël Scherk, Gabriele Veneziano, Michael Green, and Leonard Susskind, he is regarded as one of the founders of string theory.John Salavantis
John Salavantis is an American former gridiron football coach. He was the 22nd head football coach at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas, serving for one season, in 1978, and compiling a record of 7–3. Salavantis later workred as an assistant coach in the Canadian Football League (CFL) with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Ottawa Rough Riders. Currently, Salavantis serves as the radio colour analyst on AM 900 CHML for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.Salavantis graduated from Drury High School in North Adams, Massachusetts, before attending Ottawa, where he played football for four years as an offensive tackle.Martin Melcher
Martin Melcher (August 1, 1915 – April 20, 1968) was an American film producer and husband of Doris Day.Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is a public, residential, liberal arts college in North Adams, Massachusetts. It is part of the state university system of Massachusetts. It is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. Originally established as part of the state's normal school system for training teachers, it now offers a wide variety of programs leading to Bachelor of Science and Arts degrees, as well as a Master of Education track.North Adams SteepleCats
The North Adams SteepleCats are a collegiate summer baseball team based in North Adams, Massachusetts, United States. The team, a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, plays its home games at Joe Wolfe Field in North Adams.North Adams Transcript
The North Adams Transcript, prior to being merged into the Berkshire Eagle in 2014, was an American daily newspaper published Mondays through Saturdays in North Adams, Massachusetts. It was one of four Massachusetts newspapers owned by MediaNews Group of Colorado. Under the ownership of MediaNews Group and later Digital First Media, it was part of the New England Newspapers group. The group also included the Berkshire Eagle and Advocate Weekly, as well as three Vermont newspapers — the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and Manchester Journal. The Advocate Weekly was shut down in January 2014.
Branded as "The Voice of the Northern Berkshires Since 1843," the Transcript covered North Adams and Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford, and Williamstown, Massachusetts; and Pownal and Stamford, Vermont.North Adams strike
The North Adams strike was a strike in 1870 by shoe workers of the Order of the Knights of St. Crispin, against Calvin T. Sampson's Shoe factory, in North Adams, Massachusetts. The strike itself was broken when Sampson imported seventy-five unskilled male Chinese strikebreakers, from California.Oswald Tower
Oswald Tower (November 23, 1883 – May 28, 1968) was an American basketball administrator and instructor at Phillips Academy Andover [1910-49]. Born in North Adams, Massachusetts, he served on the National Basketball Rules Committee from 1910 to 1960, was an editor of the Official Basketball Guide and an official rules interpreter from 1915 to 1960. He was enshrined in the inaugural class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959 as a contributor .WJJW
WJJW (91.1 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a Variety format. Licensed to North Adams, Massachusetts, United States, the station serves the Northern Berkshire County area. The station is owned by the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.The callsign WJJW had previously been assigned to a Wyandotte, Michigan radio station broadcasting at 103.1 MHz. The station operated from September 11, 1947 to May 1, 1951.WNAW
WNAW (1230 AM) is a radio station broadcasting an Adult Contemporary format. Licensed to North Adams, Massachusetts, United States, the station serves northern Berkshire County. The station is owned by Townsquare Media (through licensee subsidiary Townsquare Media Pittsfield License, LLC), and features programming from ABC News Radio.In August 2013, Gamma Broadcasting reached a deal to sell its Berkshire County radio stations, including WNAW, to Reed Miami Holdings; the sale was canceled on December 30, 2013. In October 2016, Gamma agreed to sell its stations to Galaxy Communications; that sale also fell through, and in 2017 the stations were acquired by Townsquare Media.WUPE-FM
WUPE-FM (100.1 FM) is a Classic Hits radio station owned by Townsquare Media. Licensed to North Adams, Massachusetts, United States, WUPE-FM serves Pittsfield.
Municipalities and communities of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States
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Hudson River watershed