Berkshire County, Massachusetts

:"For the Royal County of Berkshire, UK, see Berkshire"Infobox U.S. County
county = Berkshire County
state = Massachusetts

map size = 225
founded = 1685
seat = None (formerly Pittsfield)
County government was abolished in 2000 | area_total_sq_mi = 946
area_total_km2 = 2451
area_land_sq_mi = 931
area_land_km2 = 2412
area_water_sq_mi = 15
area_water_km2 = 39
area percentage = 1.58%
census yr = 2000
pop = 134953
density_sq_mi = 145
density_km2 = 56
web =
blank1_name = Major Cities/Towns blank1_info = Pittsfield, North Adams, Great Barrington|

Berkshire County is a non-governmental county located on the western edge of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of 2000, the population was 134,953. Its largest city and county seat is Pittsfield. The Berkshire Hills are centered on Berkshire County.

Law and government

Of the 14 Massachusetts counties, Berkshire County is one of seven that exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government. All former county functions were assumed by state agencies in 2000. The sheriff 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 or commissioner. However, communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services. The towns of Berkshire County have formed such a regional compact known as the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

See also the [ League of Women Voters of Massachusetts page on counties] .


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 946 square miles (2,451 km²), of which, 931 square miles (2,412 km²) of it is land and 15 square miles (39 km²) of it (1.58%) is water.

Adjacent counties

*Bennington County, Vermont (north)
*Franklin County (northeast)
*Hampshire County (east)
*Hampden County (southeast)
*Litchfield County, Connecticut (south)
*Columbia County, New York (west)
*Rensselaer County, New York (northwest)


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 134,953 people, 56,006 households, and 35,115 families residing in the county. The population density was 145 people per square mile (56/km²). There were 66,301 housing units at an average density of 71 per square mile (27/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.02% White, 1.99% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.99% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.59% from other races, and 1.23% from two or more races. 1.69% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.5% were of Italian, 16.4% Irish, 10.8% French, 10.3% English, 8.0% Polish, 7.1% German, 5.8% American and 5.1% French Canadian ancestry according to Census 2000. 94.1% spoke English, 1.6% Spanish and 1.1% French as their first language.

There were 56,006 households out of which 27.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.00% were married couples living together, 11.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.30% were non-families. 31.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.40% under the age of 18, 8.40% from 18 to 24, 26.40% from 25 to 44, 24.90% from 45 to 64, and 17.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 91.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,047, and the median income for a family was $50,162. Males had a median income of $36,692 versus $26,504 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,807. About 6.50% of families and 9.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.30% of those under age 18 and 7.20% of those age 65 or over.


Berkshire County was originally inhabited by the Mahican (Muh-he-ka-neew) Native American tribe, until the early 1700’s when the first English settlers and frontiersmen appeared around this time and began setting up farms and homesteads, despite the fact that it was Native American land. On April 25th 1724 “The English finally paid the Indians 460 pounds, 3 barrels of cider, and 30 quarts of rum for what is today Berkshire County” (page 5. Wood, David H. Lenox Massachusetts Shire Town. Published by the town of Lenox, 1969). This deal exempted modern Sheffield, Stockbridge, Richmond and Lenox, which were collected at various other dates into English territory.

In the 1800s many of the towns of Berkshire County became popular with the country's elite as they built what they called "cottages" throughout the country side. The gilded age ended in the early twentieth century with the income tax, World War 1, and the Great Depression. In the 1900s many of these cottages were torn/burned down, became prep schools, or were left uninhabited.

Today the Berkshires is known throughout the east coast and even throughout the country as the summer home of the Boston Symphony orchestra. It's viewed as a place to relax, from Tanglewood to the Norman Rockwell museum.

Cities, towns, and villages

*Great Barrington
**Housatonic (a village of Great Barrington)*
**Berkshire (a village of Lanesborough)*
**Lenox Dale (a village of Lenox)*
*Monterey Shares services with Great Barrington
*Mount Washington
*New Ashford
*New Marlborough
*North Adams
*Sheffield Shares services with Great Barrington
**Ashley Falls (a village of Sheffield)*
**Glendale (a village of Stockbridge)*
**Interlaken (a village of Stockbridge)*
*Tyringham Shares many services with Lee
*Washington Shares services with Lenox
*West Stockbridge
*Windsor"*: Villages are census divisions, but have no separate legal existence from the towns they are in."

°: There is also a southern border with Dutchess County, New York, however this is in a forested area and there is no direct access to Berkshire County.

See also

* USS "Berkshire County" (LST-288)


External links

* [] (Berkshire Vacation Site)
* [ Directions and links for Berkshire towns and attractions]
* [] (news web site)
* [ BerkshireRecordDotCom] (A Web site]
* [ Berkshire Blog] (A Blog]
* [ The Berkshire Record] (weekly newspaper]
* [ The Berkshire Eagle] (daily newspaper)
* [ Berkshire Hiking]
* [ National Register of Historic Places listing for Berkshire Co., Massachusetts]
* [ Map of cities and towns of Massachusetts]
* Wall & Gray. 1871 [ "Atlas of Massachusetts".] [ Map of Massachusetts.] [ USA] . [ New England] . Counties - [ Berkshire] , [ Franklin] , [ Hampshire and Hampden] , [ Worcester] , [ Middlesex] , [ Essex and Norfolk] , [ Boston - Suffolk] , [ Plymouth] , [ Bristol] , [ Barnstable and Dukes (Cape Cod)] . Cities - [ Springfield] , [ Worcester] , [ Lowell] , [ Lawrence] , [ Haverhill] , [ Newburyport] , [ Salem] , [ Lynn] , [ Taunton] , [ Fall River] . [ New Bedford] . These 1871 maps of the Counties and Cities are useful to see the roads and rail lines.
* Beers,D.G. 1872 "Atlas of Essex County" [ Map of Massachusetts Plate 5] . Click on the map for a very large image. Also see detailed map of [ 1872 Essex County Plate 7] .

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