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For the Royal County of Berkshire, UK, see Berkshire

Berkshire County is a non-governmental county located on the western edge of the U.S. state of Massachusettsmarker. As of 2000, the population was 134,953. Its largest city and county seat is Pittsfieldmarker. The Berkshire Hillsmarker 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.

Berkshire County is one of two Massachusetts counties that borders three different neighboring states; the other being Worcester Countymarker. The two counties are also the only ones to touch both the northern and southern state lines.

Adjacent counties


As of the census 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% Americanmarker 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.


In the last two U.S. Presidential elections, Berkshire County was Massachusetts's second-bluest county behind Suffolk Countymarker, which consists primarily of Bostonmarker. In 2004, the Bay State's native son John Kerry carried Berkshire by a massive 47.4% margin over incumbent President George W. Bush, with Kerry winning his home state by 25.2% over President Bush. In 2008, the county voted for Barack Obama by an even wider 52.6% margin over John McCain, with Obama winning by 25.7% over McCain statewide.


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. On April 25 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 Sheffieldmarker, Stockbridgemarker, Richmondmarker and Lenoxmarker, 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

Map of Berkshire County
  • Adamsmarker
  • Alfordmarker
  • Becketmarker
  • Cheshiremarker
  • Clarksburgmarker
  • Daltonmarker
  • Egremontmarker
  • Floridamarker
  • Great Barringtonmarker
    • Housatonicmarker (a village of Great Barrington)* **Van Deusenville (a village of Great Barrington)* *[[Hancock, Massachusetts|Hancock]] *[[Hinsdale, Massachusetts|Hinsdale]] *[[Lanesborough, Massachusetts|Lanesborough]] **[[Berkshire, Massachusetts|Berkshire]] (a village of Lanesborough)* *[[Lee, Massachusetts|Lee]] *[[Lenox, Massachusetts|Lenox]] **[[Lenox Dale, Massachusetts|Lenox Dale]] (a village of Lenox)* *[[Monterey, Massachusetts|Monterey]] Shares services with Great Barrington *[[Mount Washington, Massachusetts|Mount Washington]] *[[New Ashford, Massachusetts|New Ashford]] *[[New Marlborough, Massachusetts|New Marlborough]] **Clayton (a village of New Marlborough)* **Hartsville (a village of New Marlborough)* **Mill River (a village of New Marlborough)* **Southfield (a village of New Marlborough)* *[[North Adams, Massachusetts|North Adams]] *[[Otis, Massachusetts|Otis]] *[[Peru, Massachusetts|Peru]] *[[Pittsfield, Massachusetts|Pittsfield]] *[[Richmond, Massachusetts|Richmond]] *[[Sandisfield, Massachusetts|Sandisfield]] *[[Savoy, Massachusetts|Savoy]] *[[Sheffield, Massachusetts|Sheffield]] Shares services with Great Barrington **[[Ashley Falls, Massachusetts|Ashley Falls]] (a village of Sheffield)* *[[Stockbridge, Massachusetts|Stockbridge]] **[[Glendale, Massachusetts|Glendale]] (a village of Stockbridge)* **[[Interlaken, Massachusetts|Interlaken]] (a village of Stockbridge)* *[[Tyringham, Massachusetts|Tyringham]] Shares many services with Lee *[[Washington, Massachusetts|Washington]] Shares services with Lenox *[[West Stockbridge, Massachusetts|West Stockbridge]] *[[Williamstown, Massachusetts|Williamstown]] *[[Windsor, Massachusetts|Windsor]] ''*: Villages are census divisions, but have no separate legal existence from the towns they are in.'' {| class=wikitable |- align=center | width ="35%" | | width ="30%" | '''North:''' [[Bennington County, Vermont]] | width ="35%" | |- align=center | '''West:''' [[Rensselaer County, New York]] ! rowspan=3 | Berkshire County | '''East:''' [[Franklin County, Massachusetts]] |- align=center | rowspan=2 | '''West:''' [[Columbia County, New York]] | '''East:''' [[Hampshire County, Massachusetts]] |- align=center | '''East:''' [[Hampden County, Massachusetts]] |- align=center | | '''South:''' [[Litchfield County, Connecticut]]°
°: There is also a southern border with Dutchess County, New Yorkmarker, however this is in a forested area and there is no direct access to Berkshire County.

See also


  1. U.S. Election Atlas

External links

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