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Mayflower Hill Cemetery
Taunton River at Weir Village, with the former F.B.
Rogers Silver factory and the stacks of the TMLP in the distance

Taunton is a city in Bristol Countymarker, Massachusettsmarker, United Statesmarker. It is the seat of Bristol County and the hub of the Greater Taunton Area. The city is located 40 miles south of Bostonmarker, 18 miles east of Providencemarker, 18 miles north of Fall Rivermarker and 25 miles west of Plymouthmarker. The City of Taunton is situated on the Taunton Rivermarker which winds its way through the city on its way south to Mount Hope Baymarker.

As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 55,976. The current mayor is Charles Crowley.

Founded in 1637 by members of the Plymouth Colony, Taunton is one of the oldest towns in the United States. The city takes its name from Tauntonmarker, Somersetmarker, Englandmarker. Elizabeth Poloe, from Taunton, England, was instrumental in the founding of Taunton. The native Americans called the region Cohannet before the arrival of the Europeans.Taunton is also known as the Silver City, as it was an historic center of the silver industry beginning in the 19th century when companies such as Reed & Barton, F. B. Rogers, Poole Silver and others produced fine quality silver goods in the city.

Since December 1914, the city of Taunton has provided a large annual light display each December on Taunton Greenmarker, also giving it the nickname of Christmas City.

Taunton once included many surrounding towns, including Nortonmarker, Eastonmarker, Mansfieldmarker, Dightonmarker, Raynhammarker, and Berkleymarker. Possession of the latter is still noted by the naming of Taunton Hillmarker in Assonetmarker, which is now North Main Street, a street that heads into Berkley.



Taunton was founded in 1637 by Elizabeth Poole, and officially incorporated as a town on September 3 1639. Most of the town's settlers were originally from Tauntonmarker in Somersetmarker, Englandmarker, which led early settlers to name the settlement after that town. At the time of Taunton's incorporation, they explained their choice of name as being, in honour and love to our dear native country... and owning it a great mercy of God to bring us to this place, and settling of us, on lands of our own bought with our money in peace, in the midst of the heathen, for a possession for ourselves and for our posterity after us. Prior to 1640, the Taunton area was called Cohannet.

The Englishmarker founders of Taunton took possession of the land from the native Wampanoags. The Taunton area was the site of battles (on its soil or the surrounding area) during various conflicts, including King Philip's War and the American Revolution. Taunton was re-incorporated as a city on May 11 1864.

Industrial Legacy

During the 19th century, Taunton became known as the "Silver City", as it was home to many silversmithing operations, including Reed & Barton, F.B. Rogers, and Poole Silver.

In the 19th century, Taunton was also center of an important iron making industry, utilizing much bog iron from the numerous swamps in the surrounding area. The iron industry in Taunton produced a variety of goods including stoves (Weir Stove Company/Glenwood), tacks (Field Tack Company) and machinery. One of the more successful companies during this period was the Mason Machine Works, founded by William Mason which produced machinery for the textile industry, as well as steam locomotives. The Taunton Locomotive Works (begun in 1846) also operated in the city during this time.

Taunton was also home to several textile mills (Whittenton Mills) and other industries, such as felt (Bacon Felt) and brick making.

During the 19th century, Taunton was a major shipping point for grain from the inland rural farm areas of Massachusetts to the rest of the nation via Weir Village and the Taunton Rivermarker. With the advent of the railroad, Taunton would also become an important transportation hub due to its central location.

The city formed the Taunton Municipal Light Plant (TMLP) in 1897, when it decided to purchase the floundering Taunton Electric Lighting Company, making it a publicly-owned electric utility. Today, TMLP provides electric service to 34,000 customers in Taunton, Berkley, Raynham, and sections of Dighton, Lakeville and Bridgewater. TMLP is governed by a three-member Board of Commissioners, which is elected by the citizens of Taunton.

Recent History

The Myles Standish Industrial Park in the Taunton's north end is currently one of the largest in New England. The National Weather Service operates a Regional Forecast Office there. Several major companies operate within the Industrial Park, and in other parts of the city.

In October 2005, the nearby Whittenton Pond Dam threatened to fail following a week that brought nine inches of rain to the city. Over 2,000 city residents were evacuated and Mayor Robert Nunes issued a State of Emergency. It is estimated that if the dam had failed, the Mill River would have inundated the downtown area with up to six feet of water. In response, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney ordered an immediate inspection of high-risk dams throughout the Commonwealth.

In March 2008, famed Hollywood director Martin Scorsese filmed a portion of the upcoming film Ashecliffe on location at the Whittenton Mills Complex[17928], "Filming locations forShutter Island (2009)", accessed 08-11-2009.. The movie is expected to be released in October 2009. The Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis, was another movie partly filmed (at the old Paul Dever school) in the city.[17929], "Filming locations forSurrogates (2009)", accessed 08-11-2009. The movie is expected to be released in September 2009.


An abstract map of Taunton's watershed
Taunton is located at (41.901491, -71.093628). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 48.0 square miles (124.2 km2), of which, 46.6 square miles (120.7 km2) of it is land and 1.4 square miles (3.5 km2) of it (2.81%) is water. This is the second largest city by area in Massachusetts. Only Boston, at of land, is larger.

Taunton has one major river, the Taunton Rivermarker, alongside with its tributaries including the Mill River and the Three Mile River. These rivers are within the Taunton River Watershedmarker.

There are nine designated historic districts within the city:
  • Bay Road Historic District, which is also known as Post Road. The road runs from Taunton to Boston (1300 acres (5.3 km2), 1 structure, 2 objects)
  • Bristol Countymarker Courthouse Complex (13 acres, 3 buildings)
  • Church Greenmarker Historic District is also known as Meetinghouse Common (160 acres, 18 buildings, 1 object)
  • Hopewell Mills Districtmarker (120 acres, 13 buildings)
  • Old Bay Road Historic District is also known as The Post Road; The King's Highway (150 acres, 1 structure, 3 objects)
  • Reed and Barton Complexmarker
  • Taunton Green Historic Districtmarker (50 acres, 22 buildings, 3 objects)
  • Taunton State Hospitalmarker Historic District is also known as the Taunton Lunatic Asylum (1250 acres (5.1 km2), 38 buildings, 8 structures)

See also: List of Registered Historic Places in Taunton, Massachusetts

Municipalities (in grey) that were once part of Taunton
Due to the annexation of towns from the original town of Taunton, the city now is irregularly shaped, with it (along with neighboring Raynham) roughly making a triangle. The city is bordered by Nortonmarker to the northwest, Eastonmarker to the north, Raynhammarker to the northeast, Lakevillemarker to the east, Berkleymarker and Dightonmarker to the south, and Rehobothmarker to the west.

City neighborhoods include Clearview Estates, East Taunton, Elliot's Corner, Herring Run Estates, Linden Estates, Matthews Landing, North Taunton, Oakland, Pine Crest Estates, Pine Hill Estates, Wades Corner, Weir Villagemarker, Westville, Whittenton, Whittenton Junction, Britannia Village, Willis Lake Village and Woodward Estates. Taunton is also home to almost the entirety of the Massasoit State Park in East Taunton, and a large portion of the Hockomock Swamp Wildlife Management Area in North Taunton.


Historical Populations
Year Pop. Year Pop.
1790 1900 31,036
1800 1910 34,259
1810 1920 37,137
1820 1930 37,355
1830 1940 37,395
1840 1950 40,109
1850 1960 41,132
1860 1970 43,756
1870 1980 45,001
1880 1990 49,832
1890 2000 55,976
As of the census of 2000, there were 55,976 people, 22,045 households, and 14,483 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,201.1 people per square mile (463.7/km2). There were 22,908 housing units at an average density of 491.5/sq mi (189.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city is 91.67% White, 2.74% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.60% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.59% from other races, and 2.21% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.93% of the population.

There are 22,045 households out of which 32.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.0% were married couples living together, 13.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,932, and the median income for a family was $52,433. Males had a median income of $36,895 versus $27,686 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,899. About 8.0% of families and 10.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.9% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.


The city has a Mayor-Council form of government. Taunton also has a School Committee and many boards and commissions. As the seat of Bristol Countymarker, Taunton is home to the county's few administrative offices and several of its courthouses, which includes one that is currently under construction, including the Bristol County Superior Courthouse. The Massachusetts State Police's Troop D (Southeast District), 4th Barracks, patrols Taunton and is located in Middleborough.

Taunton is a part of three separate state representative districts: Third Bristol (entirely located in Taunton), Fifth Bristol (which includes Dighton, Somerset and part of Swansea), and 12th Bristol (including all or parts of Freetown, Lakeville, Middleborough and New Bedford). It is a part of the First [Plymouth County|Plymouth] and [Bristol County|Bristol] state senate district, which also includes the towns of Berkley, Bridgewater, Carver, Dighton, Marion, Middleborough, Raynham and Wareham. On the national level, the town is part of Massachusetts Congressional District 4, which is represented by Barney Frank. The state's senior (Class I) Senator is John F. Kerry. The state's second United States Senate seat has been temporarily filled, following the death of Edward M. Kennedy on August 25, 2009, by Paul G. Kirk.


Many famous political or politically-controversial events occurred in Taunton's long history. This town was the first in Colonial America where a woman (Elizabeth Pole) was credited with its founding. Robert Treat Paine was a long-time Taunton resident and a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the first Attorney-General of Massachusetts. Part of King Phillip's War was fought on Taunton's limits.

Former U.S. presidents, such as Presidents James K. Polk, William H. Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt Harry S. Truman, and General Dwight Eisenhower, gave campaign speeches in Taunton. The city's former Camp Myles Standishmarker during WWII was a prisoner-of-war camp, a welcoming area for about a million U.S. and Allied soldiers; and a candidate site for the U.N. Headquarters, soon after the military camp closed. Although the city hasn't been as much of a hotbed of politics as it once was, it still continues to be a politically active region of Massachusetts.

See also list of mayors of Taunton.


Taunton's economy has historically been based on silversmithing and shipbuilding. Reed & Barton produced the 1996 Summer Olympics medals and exclusively-used silverware for the White Housemarker. Also, the city produced the anchor for the USS Constitutionmarker. The nearby town of Raynhammarker produced the anchor for the Civil War-era ironclad USS Monitor.

Today, the city's economy has many emphases on semiconductor, silicon, and electronics manufacturing. It is home to corporate headquarters of many leading corporations in various industries. Currently, the city is trying to attract biotechnology research companies to its industrial parks.

Silver City Galleria is a large shopping mall in Taunton catering to not just Taunton but also neighboring towns/cities of Easton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Dighton, Fall River, Middleboro, Norton and others.


Education in Taunton ranges from preschool through post-secondary education.

Primary and secondary

Taunton has ten public elementary schools and four public middle schools.

The city also has three Catholic elementary schools and one Catholic middle school:
  • Villa Fatima Pre School
  • Our Lady of Lourdes School
  • St. Mary's Primary School
  • Taunton Catholic Middle School

Taunton has two public high schools (Taunton High School and Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School) and one Catholic high school (Coyle and Cassidy High Schoolmarker).

Higher education

Taunton is home to a satellite campus of Bristol Community Collegemarker, which meets at Taunton High School. In addition, the city houses career schools such as the RobRoy Academy beauty school.


St. Mary's Church

Public Spaces

The Taunton Greenmarker is the name of the city's central square. Early in its history, "The Green" was used as a training ground for militias in the American Revolution. Some say it was also the site of the historic "Liberty & Union"/"Taunton" flag raising in 1774 by the Sons of Liberty, prior to the American Revolution. Since the early 20th century, Taunton Green has temporarily been transformed during the winter holiday season into a grand display of holiday lights, scenes, and extravagant events. This is where and how the city earned its unofficial nickname in the surrounding areas as the "Christmas City."

"The Green" continues to provide a centralized location for city-wide Christmas activities, other holidays, events, and parades for the citizens of Taunton. A fountain is located at the center of the Taunton Green. Always to be seen flapping together in emblematic unison, the "Liberty & Union" flag and the U.S. flag fly side-by-side on the flagpole at the city's center.

The city is served by a central public library, the Taunton Public Librarymarker, which opened in 1903 and has undergone several expansions and renovations since that time. Also of note is the Old Colony Historical Societymarker, which archives the city and region's past.

The City is home to two state parks operated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts / Department of Conservation and Recreation, including Massasoit State Park in East Tauntonmarker and Watson Pond State Park in the north part of the city.


Numerous religious groups exist within the city, including Jewish, Roman Catholic, Protestant and other Christian denominations. The First Parish Church, a Unitarian Universalist church, located at Church Green at the east end of downtown was founded in 1637, before the Town of Taunton was even established. The current church dates from 1830. The Pilgrim Congregational Church on Broadway was fored in 1821, its current church built in 1851. The city's oldest Roman Catholic Parish, St. Mary's Church is located further north at the intersection of Broadway and Washington Street, known as Saint Mary's Square.


The City of Taunton has a wide array of excellent architecture ranging from the Colonial Period to Modern Times. There are numerous pre-revolutionary war private homes within the city, the oldest of which is the Joseph Willis Housemarker on Worcester Street dating to about 1688. The City has over one-hundred buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Perhaps the most impressive structure in the city is the towering Bristol County Superior Courthouse, built in 1894 and designed by Frank Irving. With its tall copper dome, the Superior Courthouse is visible from many surrounding areas. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Currently, the Courthouse Complex is undergoing a major expansion and renovation program.

Other significant buildings in the City include some fine stone churches, including the First Parish Church (1830), the Pilgrim Congregational Church (1851) and Saint Mary's Church on Broadway.

Downtown Taunton has a number of historic commercial blocks along Main Street, Taunton Green and Broadway, built during the period from about 1840 to 1920.

Many large homes built by the wealthy industrialists and merchants of the late 19th and early 20th century line Route 44 both east (Dean Street) and west (Winthrop Steet) of the city center, while a majority of the city is occupied by more modest wood framed single and multi-family homes, many over 100 years old. Modern single-family subdivisions, mostly built since the 1950s, exist in the outskirts of the sprawling city.

The Central Fire Stationmarker at 50 School Street is recognized as the oldest functioning station house in the United States. The historic Taunton City Hallmarker is located adjacent to Church Greenmarker.


Taunton is served by several publications including the Silver City Bulletin, The Taunton Call, Brockton Enterprise, and the Taunton Daily Gazette. Regional papers of importance such as the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and Providence Journal, are also widely available.

Taunton has local cable television channels which include the Taunton Educational Network (channel 9), Taunton Community Access and Media, Inc. (channel 15), and Taunton Municipal Network (channel 17). Comcast's Taunton system carries all Providence and Boston stations as well and both markets are available over-the-air. The two radio stations based in Taunton are WVBF 1530 AM (Licensed to nearby Middleborough Center), which features local programming until noon followed by syndicated feed from the Reading for the Blind Network, and WSNE-FM 93.3, which primarily serves the Providence radio market and has its studios in the city of Providence.

From 1948 until 2007, Taunton was also served by local radio station WPEPmarker 1570. However the station was silenced with the upgrade of Keating Wilcox's station also on 1570, in Beverlymarker, Massachusetts.

Some of the major Internet providers in Taunton are Comcast, EarthLink, SBC Yahoo! Dial, and Verizon. The Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant (TMLP), Taunton's electric company, is also an Internet service provider for the city and its surrounding towns.

Healthcare and utilities

Morton Hospital
Taunton is home to the Morton Hospital and Medical Centermarker, located on Washington Street, just north of the city center.

Taunton State Hospital is a psychiatric hospital located on Hodges Avenue. One of its historical old buildings had to be brought down after it was severely damaged by fire in 2006. This hospital is now one of the very few mental health hospitals in Massachusetts for longer term in-patient care of psychiatric patinets.

Electricity is provided to residents by the Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant (TMLP), located in the south end. The City has a Municipal water system, with a treatment plant and water supply in nearby Lakevillemarker, as well as a public sewer system with a treatment plant on West Water Street in the south end of the city, discharging into the Taunton River.


The Taunton Railway began in 1838 (201 years after its founding by Elizabeth Pole from Dorchestermarker, The Dorchester Company started in 1623 as part of the Sheffield Patent settling at Stage Point, Gloucestermarker, Cape Annmarker) as the main rail transportation system both industrial and passenger connecting Taunton with points south, east, north, and west including New Bedfordmarker and Cape Codmarker, Fall Rivermarker and Newportmarker, Somersetmarker and Providencemarker, Attleboromarker and Providence, Mansfieldmarker and Bostonmarker, Stoughtonmarker and Boston, Raynham Middleborough and Warehammarker as time went on. Taunton is the central highway hub of southeastern Massachusetts. Much of the eastern part of the state's major highways intersect and/or runs through the city, especially at its center. US 44, MA 138, and MA 140 intersect at a square at Taunton's center, which is called the Taunton Green. MA 140 is also accessible from the eastern neighborhood of the city, popularly referred to as "East Taunton." Additionally, MA 24 and MA 140 intersect near East Taunton, and it is at that junction that Route 140 ceases to be a 2-lane divided freeway from the south and becomes a smaller state highway to the north. Interstate 495 runs through the northern portion of Taunton, unofficially referred to as "North Taunton", and parallel to Myles Standish Industrial Park, Taunton's main industrial park.

Various smaller routes run through other parts of the city. These include a small portion of MA 104, close to the Taunton-Raynham city limits, and MA 79, close to the Taunton-Berkley-Lakeville (Plymouth Countymarker) city-town-county limits. Taunton is the western terminus of MA 104. It merges into US 44 after entering the city.

Several freight rails pass through the city on their way towards Fall River, New Bedford and a link-up with the line in Middleborough. There are plans being worked on to link up parts of this rail with the Stoughton line of the MBTA commuter rail system to Boston. The Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority, or GATRA, provides bus mass transit.

Taunton also has its own municipal airportmarker, serving mostly smaller craft and occasional commuter jets. The nearest airport with national airline service is at T.F.marker Green Airportmarker in Rhode Island, and the nearest international service is at Logan International Airportmarker in Boston.

Notable residents

Sister Cities

Taunton shares a sister city status with:


  • History of Taunton, Massachusetts from Its Settlement to the Present Time by Samuel Hopkins Emery, published 1893.

External links

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