Amherst, Massachusetts: Wikis


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Amherst, Massachusetts
—  Town  —
Downtown Amherst. Shops along the west side of South Pleasant Street, February 2005.

Nickname(s): A-town, The Herst
Location in Hampshire County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°22′49″N 72°31′25″W / 42.38028°N 72.52361°W / 42.38028; -72.52361
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Hampshire
Settled 1703
Incorporated 1759
 - Type Representative town meeting
 - Total 27.8 sq mi (71.9 km2)
 - Land 27.7 sq mi (71.8 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 295 ft (90 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 34,874
 Density 1,258.2/sq mi (485.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01002
Area code(s) 413
FIPS code 25-01325
GNIS feature ID 0618195

Amherst is a town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States in the Connecticut River valley. As of the 2000 census, the population was 34,874. The town is home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, three of the Five Colleges. The name of the town is correctly pronounced without the h ("AM-erst"),[1] unlike some other towns of the same name.[2]

The communities of Amherst Center, North Amherst, and South Amherst are census-designated places.

Amherst is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.



The earliest known document of the lands now comprising Amherst is the deed of purchase dated December 1658 between John Pynchon of Springfield and three native inhabitants, referred to as Umpanchla, Quonquont and Chickwalopp.[3] According to the deed, "ye Indians of Nolwotogg (Norwottuck) upon ye River of Quinecticott (Connecticut)" sold the entire area in exchange for "two Hundred fatham of Wampam & Twenty fatham, and one large Coate at Eight fatham wch Chickwollop set of, of trusts, besides severall small giftes" [sic]. Amherst celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. The Amherst 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee has been established to oversee the creation and implementation of Town-wide activities throughout 2009. The Amherst Historical Society also organized events, including a book published by them and written by Elizabeth M. Sharpe, "Amherst A to Z".

When the first permanent English settlements arrived in 1727, this land and the surrounding area (including present-day South Hadley and Granby) belonged to the town of Hadley. It gained precinct status in 1734 and eventually township in 1759.

Upon its incorporation, the colonial governor assigned to them the name Amherst after Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst. Many colonial governors at the time were scattering his name amidst the influx of new town applications, which is why several towns in the Northeast bear the name. Amherst was a hero of the French and Indian War who, according to popular legend, singlehandedly won Canada for the British and banished France from North America. Popular belief has it that he supported the American side in the Revolutionary war and resigned his commission rather than fight for the British. However, in truth he remained in the service of the Crown during the war - albeit in Great Britain rather than North America where he organised the defense against the proposed Franco-Spanish Armada of 1779. Nontheless his previous service in the French and Indian War meant he remained popular in New England. Amherst is also infamous for considering, in a letter to a peer, the use of smallpox-covered blankets in warfare against the Native Americans. It is for this reason that there have been occasional ad hoc movements to rename the town. Among the new names suggested for the town has been "Emily" after Emily Dickinson (see Notable Residents below).

In 1786, as the American Revolution was ending, many soldiers returning home found themselves in debt as they were unable to attend to business and property while they were away fighting. Farmers who were unable to pay taxes and debts had their property and livestock confiscated by the courts. Daniel Shays, a Pelham resident who was promoted from the ranks to be a Captain in the Revolutionary Army, organized Shays's Rebellion.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 27.8 square miles (71.9 km²), of which, 27.7 square miles (71.8 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.14%) is water. For interactive mapping provided by the Town of Amherst, see External Links on this page.

UMass, looking southeast


Historical population of
1790 1,233
1800 1,258
1810 1,469
1820 1,917
1830 2,631
1840 2,550
1850 3,057
1860 3,206
1870 4,035
1880 4,298
1890 4,512
1900 5,028
1910 5,112
1920 5,550
1930 5,888
1940 6,410
1950 10,856
1960 13,718
1970 26,331
1980 33,229
1990 35,228
2000 34,874
2005 34,047 (estimate)

As of the 2008 U.S. Census, there were 35,564 people, 9,174 households, and 4,550 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,283.4 people per square mile (485.7/km²). There were 9,427 housing units at an average density of 340.1/sq mi (131.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 76.7% White, 5.10% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 9.02% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 2.89% from other races, and 3.35% from two or more races. 6.19% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 9,174 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.4% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the town the population was spread out with 12.8% under the age of 18, 50.0% from 18 to 24, 17.2% from 25 to 44, 13.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 92.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $40,017, and the median income for a family was $61,237. Males had a median income of $44,795 versus $32,672 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,427. About 7.2% of families and 20.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.3% of those under age 18 and 3.5% of those age 65 or over. The reason for the large population living below the poverty line is because of the large number of students that live in Amherst.[citation needed]

Of residents 25 years old or older, 41.7% have a graduate or professional degree, and only 4.9% did not graduate from high school. The largest industry is education, health, and social services, in which 51.9% of employed persons work.

These statistics include some but not all of the large student population, many of whom only reside in the town part of the year. Amherst is home to thousands of part-time and full-time residents associated with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, and Hampshire College.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 18, 2006[5]
Party Total Voters Percentage
  Democratic 8,350 49.18%
  Republican 1,076 6.34%
  Unaffiliated 7,228 42.57%
  Other Parties 326 1.92%
Total 16,980 100%


Amherst is among relatively few towns of its size in Massachusetts in not having moved to a mayor-council or council-manager form of government. Instead, it has maintained the traditional town meeting (legislative) and select board (executive), though with the important modification, allowed through a special state law, whereby Town Meeting is made up of elected representatives of each precinct in the town. In addition, the select board hires a town manager to handle the day-to-day administrative details of running a town.

In recent years, some have sought to abolish the 254-member Town Meeting with a new charter that would create a directly-elected mayor and a nine-member Town Council. The charter was rejected by voters in Spring 2003 by fourteen votes, and defeated again on March 29, 2005 by 252 votes.


The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA), funded by local governments and the Five Colleges, provides public transportation in the area. Rideshare (non-profit) has a free service with RideBoards for the 5 colleges, and services available to the general community. Rides offered and needed populate the site - and travel locally and nationally.

Rail service is available through Amtrak at the Amherst station (AMM) on the daily Vermonter service between Washington D.C. and St. Albans, VT. More frequent service to New York City and Washington D.C. is available from Springfield.

The closest major domestic and limited international air service is available through Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Bradley is located approximately one hour's driving time from Amherst. Major international service is available through Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston, 90 miles away.

General aviation service is close by, at Northampton Airport (7B2), Westover Metropolitan Airport (CEF) and Turners Falls Airport (0B5).

Notable residents


Born or raised in Amherst

  • Steve Porter, Music producer
  • Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of NORML, attended public schools in Amherst and graduated from the University of Massachusetts.
  • Uma Thurman (b. 1970) Oscar-nominated actress, whose father Robert Thurman taught at Amherst College.
  • Loren Weisman (b. 1974), Music Producer, Drummer and Author. Attended public schools in Amherst.
  • Jesse Barrett-Mills, filmmaker
  • Leon Bromell, drum circle enthusiast. Attended public schools in Amherst
  • Josh Wolf comedian
  • Shayna Seymor, reporter for the nightly news show Chronicle on WCVB-Boston
  • Eric Mabius, actor, star of ABC show Ugly Betty, attended Amherst Schools

Live in Amherst

Points of interest

See also


  1. ^,,
  2. ^ See, e.g.,, an Amherst College alumni website, among many other sources.
  3. ^ Carpenter, Edward W. (1896). The History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts, pp. 1-2. Press of Carpenter & Morehouse.
  4. ^,
  5. ^ "2006 State Election Party Enrollment Statistics (PDF, 108k)" (PDF). Massachusetts Secretary of State. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967. 

External links

Coordinates: 42°22′00″N 72°31′00″W / 42.366667°N 72.516667°W / 42.366667; -72.516667

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

AMHERST, a village of Amherst township, Hampshire county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., in the central part of the state, about 7 m. N.E. of Northampton. Pop. of the township (1890) 4512; (1900) 5028; (1905, state census) 5313. It is served by the Boston & Maine and the Central Vermont railways, and by interurban electric railways to Northampton, Holyoke, Sunderland and Pelham. The village is picturesquely situated on a plateau within a rampart of hills on the E. side of the Connecticut river valley. About 3 m. to the S. are the Holyoke Mountains (so called), while on the three remaining sides the land slopes to meadows, beyond which rise on the W. the Hampshire and Berkshire Hills, on the N. the Sugar Loaf Mountains and Mt. Toby, and on the E. the Pelham Hills, including Mt Lincoln (1246 ft.). Two small rivers (Mill and Fort) flow through the township. Amherst is a quiet, pleasing, academic village of attractive homes. It is noteworthy as the seat of Amherst College, one of the best known of the smaller colleges of the United States. Amherst Academy (opened about 1814, chartered 1816), a co-educational school at which Mary Lyon, the founder of Mt. Holyoke College, was educated, preceded the college (not co-educational) ,which was opened in 1821 and was chartered in 1825. It was originally a collegiate charitable institution, its basis being a fund for the schooling of ministers, and the charity element has remained very large relatively to other colleges. The principal college buildings are College Hall (1828); College Chapel (1828); the Henry T. Morgan Library; Williston Hall, containing the Mather Art Museum, the rooms of the Young Men's Christian Association, and several lecture-rooms; Walker Hall, with college offices and lecture-rooms; Hitchcock Hall; Barrett Hall (1859), the first college gymnasium built in the United States, now used as a lecture hall; the Pratt Gymnasium and Natatorium and the Pratt Health Cottage, whose donors also gave to the college the Pratt Field; an astronomical observatory; and the two dormitories, North College and South College, supplemented by several fraternity houses. The natural history collections (including the very large ichnological collection of President Hitchcock, and Audubon's collection of birds) are of exceptional richness. At Amherst is also the MassachusettsAgricultural College (co-educational; 1867) and experiment station (1887). Among the presidents of Amherst College have been in 1845-1854 and in 1876-1890 respectively - Edward Hitchcock, the famous geologist, and the Rev. Julius H. Seelye (1824-1895), a well-known educationalist. The township seems to have been first settled in 1731; it was incorporated in 1 759 as a "district" (i.e. having all the rights of a township save corporate representation in the legislature) and in 1776 as a "town" (township). It was originally part of Hadley. Its name was given to it in honour of General Jeffrey Amherst (1717-1797). During the Shays' Rebellion Amherst was a centre of disaffection and a rallying-point of the insurgents. Noah Webster lived in the village from 1812 to 1822, when working on his Dictionary; and Emily Dickinson and Helen M. Fiske (later Helen Hunt-Jackson, "H. H.") were born here.

See William Seymour Tyler, A History of Amherst College (New York, 1896), and Carpenter and Morehouse, The History of the Town of Amherst (New York, 1896).

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Simple English

, 2005.]]

Amherst is a town in the American state of Massachusetts. There are three colleges in Amherst. It is named after Sir Jeffrey Amherst. It has a population of about 30,000 people.

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