Suffolk County, Massachusetts

Suffolk County is a county in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in the United States. As of 2018, the population was 807,252[1] making it the fourth-most populous county in Massachusetts. The traditional county seat is Boston, the state capital and the largest city in Massachusetts.[2] The county government was abolished in late 1999, and so Suffolk County today functions only as an administrative subdivision of state government and a set of communities grouped together for some statistical purposes. Suffolk County constitutes the core of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the greater Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT Combined Statistical Area.

Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Suffolk County Courthouse Boston
Suffolk County Courthouse
Seal of Suffolk County, Massachusetts

Map of Massachusetts highlighting Suffolk County

Location within the U.S. state of Massachusetts
Map of the United States highlighting Massachusetts

Massachusetts's location within the U.S.
FoundedMay 10th, 1643
Named forSuffolk
Largest cityBoston
 • Total120 sq mi (311 km2)
 • Land58 sq mi (150 km2)
 • Water62 sq mi (161 km2), 52%
Population (est.)
 • (2018)807,252
 • Density13,758/sq mi (5,312/km2)
Congressional districts5th, 7th, 8th
Time zoneEastern: UTC−5/−4


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

The county was created by the Massachusetts General Court on May 10, 1643, when it was ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four shires". Suffolk initially contained Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Dedham, Braintree, Weymouth, and Hingham.[3] The county was named after Suffolk, England, which means "southern folk."[4]

In 1731, the extreme western portions of Suffolk County, which included Uxbridge, were split off to become part of Worcester County. In 1793, most of the original Suffolk County (including Milton) except for Boston, Chelsea, Hingham, and Hull (which remained in Suffolk) split off and became Norfolk County. Hingham and Hull would leave Suffolk County and join Plymouth County in 1803.[5] Revere was set off from Chelsea and incorporated in 1846 and Winthrop was set off from Revere and incorporated in 1852. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Boston annexed several adjacent cities and towns including Hyde Park, Roxbury, West Roxbury, and Dorchester from Norfolk County and Charlestown and Brighton from Middlesex County, resulting in an enlargement of Suffolk County.

Government and politics

Like an increasing number of Massachusetts counties, Suffolk County exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government.[6] All former county functions were assumed by state agencies in 1999. The sheriff, district attorney, and some other regional officials with specific duties are still elected locally to perform duties within the county region, but there is no county council, executives or commissioners. Immediately prior to the abolition of county government, the authority of the Suffolk County Commission had for many years been exercised by the Boston City Council, even though three communities in the county are not part of the city. However, communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services.[7]

Politically speaking, Suffolk County supports the Democratic Party overwhelmingly. No Republican presidential candidate has won there since Calvin Coolidge in 1924. In 2012 Barack Obama received 77.4% of the vote, compared to 20.8% for Mitt Romney. In the 2014 gubernatorial election, Martha Coakley carried the county by a 32.4% margin, while losing the election statewide by 48.4 to 46.5%.

Voter registration and party enrollment as of October 17, 2018[8]
Party Number of voters Percentage
Democratic 235,436 49.90%
Republican 28,033 5.94%
Unenrolled 202,510 42.92%
Minor Parties 5,850 1.24%
Total 471,829 100%


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 120 square miles (310 km2), of which 58 square miles (150 km2) is land and 62 square miles (160 km2) (52%) is water.[10] It is the second-smallest county in Massachusetts by land area and smallest by total area.

Adjacent counties

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

National protected areas

Major highways


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2018807,252[11]11.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790-1960[13] 1900-1990[14]
1990-2000[15] 2010-2018[16]

Of the 292,767 households, 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.1% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 52.0% were non-families, and 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.11. The median age was 31.5 years.[17]

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


According to the 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, the largest ancestry groups in Suffolk County, Massachusetts are:[21][22]

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

Demographic breakdown by town


Data is from the 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.[23][24][25]

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


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

See also


  1. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Suffolk County, Massachusetts". Census Bureau QuickFacts. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. ^ Davis, William T. Bench and Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, p. 44. The Boston History Company, 1895.
  4. ^ Thomas Cox, Anthony Hall, Robert Morden, Magna Britannia Antiqua & Nova: Or, A New, Exact, and Comprehensive Survey of the Ancient and Present State of Great Britain, Volume 5, (Caesar Ward and Richard Chandler: London, 1738), pg. 171 (accessed on Google Book Search, June 22, 2008)
  5. ^ "History of Norfolk County - Norfolk County". Archived from the original on 23 November 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  6. ^ "CIS: Historical Data Relating to the Incorporation of Counties in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  7. ^ See also: League of Women Voters page on counties Archived April 21, 2004, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 17, 2018" (PDF). Massachusetts Elections Division. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  9. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Archived from the original on 23 March 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  10. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on September 14, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  11. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  13. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 16, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  14. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 28, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  15. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  16. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  17. ^ "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  18. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2016-01-12.
  19. ^ "Suffolk County, Massachusetts QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau".
  20. ^ "Massachusetts QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau".
  21. ^ "PEOPLE REPORTING ANCESTRY 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  22. ^ "ACS DEMOGRAPHIC AND HOUSING ESTIMATES 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  23. ^ "SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  24. ^ "ACS DEMOGRAPHIC AND HOUSING ESTIMATES 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  25. ^ "HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2013-01-26.

External links

Coordinates: 42°21′32″N 71°03′28″W / 42.35892°N 71.05781°W

Aldridge Ledge

Aldridge Ledge is a small barren rock located in the South Channel, within the city limits of Boston, Massachusetts. The rock is southwest of Devils Back and Half Tide Rocks, west of Little Calf Island and Hypocrite Channel, and northwest of Calf Island.

Broad Sound (Massachusetts)

Broad Sound is a bay on the Massachusetts coast north of Boston. It lies on the west of Massachusetts Bay, between Nahant and Deer Island; Lynn harbor is at its north end. The main channel of Boston Harbor empties into the sound.

Chelsea Creek

Chelsea Creek, shown on federal maps as the Chelsea River, is a 2.6-mile-long (4.2 km) waterway that runs along the shore of Chelsea, Massachusetts and separates that community from the cities of Boston and Revere as well as feeding part of the current Belle Isle Marsh Reservation that separates Boston from Revere. It is one of 10 designated port areas in Massachusetts.The creek starts as Mill Creek at a former pond at the intersection of Revere Beach Parkway (Massachusetts Route 16) and U.S. Route 1, now a shopping center. Mill Creek meanders east for 0.5 miles, then takes a sharp turn south, becoming Chelsea Creek, and widens significantly as it runs between Chelsea and the neighborhood of East Boston. In that area the waterway is used by oil tankers to transport fuel to adjacent oil tanks. The creek then turns southwest and runs into the Mystic River shortly before it empties into Boston Harbor.All of the jet fuel used at Logan International Airport is stored along the Chelsea Creek, with 70-80 percent of the heating fuel in New England, and road salt for approximately 350 communities across the region.In May 1775, the American colonists won the first offensive victory of the American Revolution over the British, in a naval battle known as the Battle of Chelsea Creek.

Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Chestnut Hill is a New England village located six miles (9.7 km) west of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Like all Massachusetts villages, Chestnut Hill is not an incorporated municipal entity. Unlike most Massachusetts villages, it encompasses parts of three separate municipalities, each located in a different county: the town of Brookline in Norfolk County; the city of Boston in Suffolk County (parts of its neighborhoods of Brighton and West Roxbury), and the city of Newton in Middlesex County. Chestnut Hill's borders are roughly defined by the 02467 ZIP Code. Chestnut Hill is not a topographical designation; the name refers to several small hills that overlook the 135-acre (546,000 m2) Chestnut Hill Reservoir rather than one particular hill. Chestnut Hill is best known as the home of Boston College, part of the Boston Marathon route, as well as the Collegiate Gothic canvas of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

Chestnut Hill Reservoir

Chestnut Hill Reservoir is a reservoir created in 1870 on existing marshes and meadowland to supplement the city of Boston's water needs. It is surrounded by Chestnut Hill, a neighborhood which consists of parts of Boston, Brookline, and Newton. The reservoir, though, is located entirely within the city limits of Boston. A 1.56 mile jogging loop abuts the reservoir. Chestnut Hill Reservoir was taken offline in 1978 as it was no longer needed for regular water supply distribution, but is maintained in emergency backup status. It is recognized today on the National Register of Historic Places and it has designation as a City of Boston Landmark.

On May 1, 2010, the Chestnut Hill Reservoir was temporarily brought back online during a failure of a connecting pipe at the end of the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel. The Sudbury aqueduct was also activated to feed Chestnut Hill from the Foss and Sudbury reservoirs to keep the supply going. Separately the Spot Pond reservoir, also an emergency source, was tapped during the pipe break incident. Though a boil-water order was issued for fear that the water would not be safe to drink, following heavy treatment with chlorine later tests showed the water to be completely safe for drinking.In mid April 2012, the body of a Boston College student who had been missing for seven weeks was found in the reservoir. Initial autopsy results were consistent with the student having accidentally drowned.

Commissioners Ledge

Commissioners Ledge is a small barren rock in Massachusetts Bay, located within the city limits of Boston, Massachusetts, United States. The rock is west of Maffitt Ledge, northwest of Green Island, north of Half Tide Rocks, and northeast of Devils Back. Also, it borders the northeast boundary of the South Channel.

Leather District

The Leather District is a neighborhood of Boston near South Street, between the Financial District and Chinatown. The Leather District (occasionally referred to as the "LD") is a tightly defined area bounded by Kneeland Street to the south, Essex Street to the north, Atlantic Avenue to the east and Lincoln Street to the west. It is so named due to the dominance of the leather industry in the late 19th century.

Lewis Lake (Massachusetts)

Lewis Lake is a lake in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. It is located 0.5 mi southeast of Winthrop.

Martin Ledge

Martin Ledge is small barren rocks that barely stick out of the waters of Massachusetts Bay, within the city limits of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The rocks are east of Tewksbury Rock and Outer Brewster Island and southwest of Three and One-half Fathom Ledge.

Massachusetts Bay

Massachusetts Bay is a bay on the Atlantic Ocean that forms part of the central coastline of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Suffolk County, Massachusetts

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States. Latitude and longitude coordinates are provided for many National Register properties and districts; these locations may be seen together in a map.There are 328 properties and districts listed on the National Register in the county, including 58 National Historic Landmarks. The city of Boston is the location of more than 300 of these properties and districts, including 57 National Historic Landmarks; they are listed separately. Properties and districts located in the county's other three municipalities are listed here.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted May 17, 2019.

Revere Beach

Revere Beach is a public beach in Revere, Massachusetts, located about 5 miles north of downtown Boston. The beach is over 3 miles long. In 1875, a rail link was constructed to the beach, leading to its increasing popularity as a summer recreation area, and in 1896, it became the first public beach in the United States. It is still easily accessible by the MBTA Blue Line from Boston, and can accommodate as many as one million visitors in a weekend during its annual sand sculpture competition.

Shag Rocks (Massachusetts)

Shag Rocks are barren rocks situated 8 nautical miles offshore of Custom House Tower in downtown Boston, in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area and within the city limits of Boston. The rocks are northeast of Little Brewster Island and east of Great Brewster Island and have been the site of several shipwrecks. Boston Light on Little Brewster Island warns mariners to steer clear of the rocks. Public access is impractical.

Stony Brook (Boston)

Stony Brook is a major watercourse, now almost entirely covered, in the city of Boston, USA. It runs through a culvert for 7.5 miles, along almost its entire length; despite being underground, it is the largest tributary stream of the lower Charles River. It originates at Turtle Pond in the Stony Brook Reservation; it flows through Hyde Park, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain, and Roxbury. It empties into the Charles River Basin just upstream of the Massachusetts Avenue bridge; it formerly emptied into the Back Bay when that was a tidal estuary of the Charles River.

In the 18th century, water-powered industry grew up along it (including Pierpoint('s) Mill) and it served as the sewer (excluding human waste) for the neighborhoods it ran through.

The Boston and Providence Railroad (now the Providence/Stoughton Line) was built along the valley of Stony Brook in 1834.

In the 19th century, many breweries and other industries grew up along Stony Brook.In the late 19th century, various parts of Stony Brook were converted into underground culverts or sewers. In around 1882, the Back Bay Fens were dredged to convert them into a holding basin for storm overflow from Stony Brook, following Olmsted's plan, and at around the same time its waters were diverted into an intercepting sewer near the current Ruggles Station.

Taylor Schilling

Taylor Schilling (born July 27, 1984) is an American actress. She is known for her role as Piper Chapman on the Netflix original comedy-drama series Orange Is the New Black (2013–present), for which she received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Television Series Drama. She made her film debut in the 2007 drama Dark Matter. Schilling also starred in the short-lived NBC medical drama Mercy (2009–10). Her other films include Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011), the romantic drama The Lucky One (2012), the comedy Take Me (2017) and the science fiction thriller The Titan (2018).

Tewksbury Rock (Massachusetts)

Tewksbury Rock is a small, subsurface rock pinnacle located in Massachusetts Bay, within the city limits of Boston. The rock is northeast of Outer Brewster Island, west of Martin Ledge, south east of Green Island and far north of Boston Ledge. It is 15 feet (4.6 m) to 18 feet (5.5 m) below the surface of the water, but more than 45 feet (14 m) above the hard gravel floor of the bay.

Three and One-half Fathom Ledge

Three and One-half Fathom Ledge in Massachusetts, is a small barren rock in Massachusetts Bay, located within the city limits of Boston, USA. The rock is northeast of Martin Ledge and far east of the Roaring Bulls.

Winthrop, Massachusetts

Winthrop is a city in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 17,497 at the 2010 census. Winthrop is an ocean-side suburban community in Greater Boston situated at the north entrance to Boston Harbor, close to Logan International Airport. It is located on a peninsula, 1.6 square miles (4.2 km2) in area, connected to Revere by a narrow isthmus and to East Boston by a bridge over the harbor inlet to the Belle Isle Marsh Reservation. Settled in 1630, Winthrop is one of the oldest communities in the United States. It is also one of the smallest and most densely populated municipalities in Massachusetts. It is one of the four cities in Suffolk County (the others are Boston, Revere, and Chelsea). It is the southernmost part of the North Shore, with a 7-mile (11 km) shoreline that provides views of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and of the Boston skyline to the west.

In 2005, the Town of Winthrop voted to change its governance from a representative town meeting adopted in 1920 to a council-manager form of government. Under Massachusetts law, as of 2006 when the new Town Charter took effect, Winthrop became a city. However, it is one of thirteen cities in Massachusetts that chose to remain known as a 'town.' It is therefore referred to as a 'town' in this article.

Winthrop Shore Drive

Winthrop Shore Drive is a historic parkway in Winthrop, Massachusetts. The mile-long parkway runs through the Winthrop Beach Reservation, and is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The parkway is one of a series of ocean parkways (and the second one built) that make up a network of parkways connecting major open spaces in the Greater Boston area. Both the parkway and reservation were designed in the mid-1890s by Charles Eliot for the Metropolitan Parks Commission, a predecessor to the DCR. Land was acquired for the parkway in 1899, and construction was largely completed in 1900.The parkway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Suffolk County Racial Breakdown of Population (2017)[19][20]
Race Percentage of
Suffolk County
Percentage of
Percentage of
United States
White 61.7% 81.3% 76.6% –19.6% –14.9%
White (Non-Hispanic) 45.4% 72.1% 60.7% –26.7% –15.3%
Black 24.9% 8.8% 13.4% +16.1% +11.5%
Hispanic 22.9% 11.9% 18.1% +11.0% +4.8%
Asian 9.1% 6.9% 5.8% +2.2% +3.3%
Native Americans/Hawaiians 0.9% 0.6% 1.5% +0.3% –0.6%
Two or more races 3.4% 2.4% 2.7% +1.0% +0.7%
Places adjacent to Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Municipalities and communities of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Major cities
Cities and towns
Cities and towns
Cities and towns
Massachusetts public high schools
Barnstable County
Berkshire County
Bristol County
Dukes County
Essex County
Franklin County
Hampden County
Hampshire County
Middlesex County
Nantucket County
Norfolk County
Plymouth County
Suffolk County
Worcester County
Atlantic Ocean
Gulf of Maine
Long Island Sound
Narragansett Bay
Upper New York Bay
New England

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