Amherst, Massachusetts

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Location of Amherst in Massachusetts
Location of Amherst in Massachusetts
Basic data
Foundation : 1759
State : United States
State : Massachusetts
County : Hampshire County
Coordinates : 42 ° 22 ′  N , 72 ° 31 ′  W Coordinates: 42 ° 22 ′  N , 72 ° 31 ′  W
Time zone : Eastern ( UTC − 5 / −4 )
Residents : 37,819 (as of 2010)
Population density : 526.7 inhabitants per km 2
Area : 71.9 km 2  (approx. 28 mi 2 ) of
which 71.8 km 2  (approx. 28 mi 2 ) is land
Height : 90 m
Postal code : 01002
Area code : +1 413
FIPS : 25-01325
GNIS ID : 0618195
Website :

Amherst (pronunciation: æmərst ) is a city in the United States of America in Hampshire County in the west of the US state Massachusetts .

The city is located on the edge of the Connecticut River ( Pioneer Valley ) and has 37,819 inhabitants (2010). It had grown from 1950 (10,856 inhabitants) to 1990 to over 35,000 inhabitants. The city is, like the Pioneer Valley in general ("Happy Valley"), compared to other areas of the USA as predominantly progressive or politically left (English: liberal ), for which it is sometimes nicknamed " People's Republic of Amherst" by critics ( People's Republic of Amherst ).

The city is best known as the location of three renowned colleges - the University of Massachusetts Amherst , Amherst College and Hampshire College  - and as the birthplace, residence and death of the American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).


History until 1800

Up until the 17th century, the later Amherst was the hunting ground of the Indian tribe Norwottuck . He made his winter quarters in this area, as the forest had plenty of bark to build shelter and the trees and the uneven ground offered more protection from the weather than the nearby plains of the Connecticut River valley. The Norwottuck Indians collected fruit and nuts and went hunting here in the season that was not suitable for farming. Barter was carried out with the tribes in the south and north.

Amherst 1886

In the 1630s, English settlers moved up the Connecticut River and settled on its banks. The Indians initially traded fur with the settlers. In 1658 the Englishman John Pynchon of Springfield signed a contract of sale with three Indians, who were known as leaders Umpanchla, Quonquont and Chickwolopp; Around 400 meters of pearl necklaces, a large cloak and several smaller gifts, Pynchon received an area that also included today's Amherst. Negotiation attempts by the Indians to keep their corn fields failed: in 1659 the settlement of Hadley was founded by settlers in the southwest of what is now Amherst , in 1662 the area was subordinated to the newly created Hampshire County (previously Middlesex County ), and the Indians were out until shortly after 1700 expelled from the area around Amherst. In 1703, the settlement area around Hadley was then divided up and awarded by lottery in nine drawings from 1703 to 1745 to adult men and a few widows. The first houses on the site of what would later become Amherst were presumably built by 1730, and in 1742 a separate building was built for gatherings of the settlers. In the 50 years of the 18th century, ranging from the current city to the south lawn area for private or special use (was public or Particular use ) reserved, in the 19th century for parades, ceremonies and cattle would be used to look.

In 1759 the settlement originally called "Hadley East" (East Hadley) or "Third Precinct" (third district) was raised to the status of an independent small town and was given its own name. It was named after the then well-known British Field Marshal and later Lord Jeffrey Amherst ; the name was determined by the responsible colonial governor, whereas the population of the city at that time is said to have preferred the Indian name Norwottuck , which a mountain in the south of Amherst still bears today.

In 1786/1787, many of the city's residents took part in Shay's Revolt , a riot in western Massachusetts against high debts and taxes. At the end of January / beginning of February the governor's army under General Benjamin Lincoln marched through Amherst, but is said to have found hardly anyone in the city, as the majority of the inhabitants had joined the rebels.

According to a census, there were already 1231 people living in Amherst in 1790, about the same number of male and female residents; a good quarter of the residents were boys up to 16 years of age (no separate data for girls).

The universities

There are three universities in Amherst. As the third oldest college in Massachusetts (after Harvard University and Williams College ), the private Amherst College was founded in 1821 and is one of the most famous liberal arts colleges in the USA. Its buildings, mostly characterized by red brick walls and white door and window frames, stand right next to the center of Amherst.

In 1863, the State University of Massachusetts Amherst ( UMass Amherst for short ) was founded as an agricultural college, which became a general college in the first half of the 20th century and was given its current name in 1947. It is now significantly larger than Amherst College in terms of both its student numbers and its buildings and floor space; as a result, it has a strong impact on Amherst despite the greater distance from the center - around one kilometer. However, according to today's prevailing taste, their 1960s and 1970s buildings cannot compete with the representative Amherst College.

In 1965, in the south-southwest of Amherst, outside the built-up area, the Hampshire College was founded as an experiment at an alternative university .

House of Emily Dickinson's brother, part of the Emily Dickinson Museum immediately east of the center

The modern Amherst

Amherst has a small city center which, in addition to a central lawn (“Common”), mainly comprises two intersecting streets with a few shops, banks, restaurants, a few pubs and a cinema. Another center is in North Amherst , about four kilometers north-northwest of central Amherst. Due to strict building regulations, there are hardly any multi-storey buildings in the city area - with the exception of the universities; Larger stores are almost invariably located on the other side of Hadley's city limits.

The three universities, especially the University of Massachusetts, shape the city: They are not only important employers and influence the young average age of the residents. They also determine the cultural life of Amherst. Because although the city itself offers relatively few cultural events, the university events - mostly organized by and / or for students - "take care of" the area. The small town of Northampton to the west of the city is also an attraction for evening activities (pubs, restaurants, some smaller concerts) .

Due to the universities (" Five Colleges ") located in and around the city , Amherst is the center of an unusually good network of bus routes to neighboring towns, including Northampton, for a small American town of its size; almost without exception, the bus routes are operated by the universities. Amherst also has an Amtrak train station, which connects Amherst to the city of Springfield, some 30 kilometers further south, and to Vermont in the north (Vermonter railway line). A formerly also existing railway line from Northampton via Amherst to the east was closed and converted into a cycle path.


The small town is generally characterized by a high proportion of academics.

The 2000 census also included many students who sometimes leave the city during the university holidays (over Christmas and around June to August). Accordingly, 34,874 people lived in Amherst. Of these, 12,423 people lived in collective accommodation (in particular in student residences), the other residents lived in 9,174 households and 4,550 families. The population density was 486 inhabitants per square kilometer; 9,427 residential units were recorded. The population was composed of 79.33% white people, 6.19% Latinos (residents of Latin American descent), 5.10% African Americans, 0.21% Native Americans, 9.02% Asians, 0.09% residents from the Pacific Island area and 2.89% members of other races; 3.35% said they came from several ethnic groups.

Of the 9,174 households, 27.0% had children living with them. 36.4% were married couples living together, 10.8% were a single mother, and 50.4% had no children. 28.6% were single households and 8.6% had people aged 65 years or over. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size 2.97.

According to the 2000 figures, the population was divided into 12.8% under 18 years of age, 50.0% from 18 to 24 years of age, 17.2% from 25 to 44 years of age, 13.4% from 45 to 64 years of age and 6, 6% of age 65 or older. The median age (similar to an average) was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 92.6 males and for every 100 adult females aged 18 and over there were 90.8 males.

The median household income from the census was $ 40,017 and the median family income was  $ 61,237. Males had a median income of $ 44,795 and females $ 32,672. The per capita income was $ 17,427. 7.2% of families and 20.2% of the population lived below the poverty line, including 9.3% of the population under the age of 18 and 3.5% of the population aged 65 or over.

The following table lists the population of Amherst since 1790 according to the results of the 1790-2010 census.

year Residents
1790 1,233
1800 1,258
1810 1,469
1820 1.917
1830 2,631
1840 2,550
1850 3,057
1860 3,206
year Residents
1870 4,035
1880 4,298
1890 4,512
1900 5,028
1910 5.112
1920 5,550
1930 5,888
1940 6,410
year Residents
1950 10,856
1960 13,718
1970 26,331
1980 33,229
1990 35,228
2000 34,874
2010 37,819


Amherst College Natural History Museum
View from the Bare Mountain of Mount Holyoke Range to the west

Above all, the universities and their students attract visitors, who are mainly parents, relatives and friends or alumni of the universities. Visitors perceive the Amherst College complex as architecturally and scenically “beautiful” , whereas those buildings of the University of Massachusetts Amherst , which were built by well-known architects, are in their 1960s and early 1970s (concrete) style today no longer corresponds to popular taste.

In addition, tourists come to Amherst mainly on the trail of Emily Dickinson (see below ). The buildings in which Dickinson ("Dickinson Homestead") and her brother Austin's family lived are still preserved and can be visited. Emily Dickinson's facility is wholly owned by Harvard University , Cambridge ; In the brother's house, on the other hand, the furnishings and most of the wallpaper were preserved. Emily Dickinson's grave (see below ) can also be visited in the old Amherst cemetery.

Museums are also housed at the universities. The Amherst College Museum of Natural History is located on the grounds of Amherst College . The museum, which is accessible free of charge, dates back to its founding in 1855 and collections since the 1830s, and in its main hall it exhibits, among other things, mammalian skeletons from the Ice Age. On the floor of the Hampshire College which opened in 2002, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art ( The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art housed), which from the picture book author Eric Carle (author of the small Hungry Caterpillar ) was co-founded, of about 30 years in had lived near Northampton . From its opening in November 2002 to April 2008 at the latest, the museum's 4,000 square meters of exhibition space attracted more than 325,000 visitors.

The Theodore Baird Residence , a private residence designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the south of Amherst (located on Shays Street, 42 ° 21 ′ 1.3 ″  N , 72 ° 31 ′ 5.6 ″  W ) is not accessible . Built between 1938 and 1940 for an English professor at Amherst College, Theodore Baird, the exterior of the building in Wright's Usonia style is characterized by a brick facade and flat roof; Inside, the heating system is noteworthy, with hot water pipes transporting heat through a concrete floor. Listed on the US National Register of Historic Places on January 3, 1985 , the house is currently occupied by a University of Massachusetts professor.

Amherst also includes part of two state parks extending beyond the city limits on the grounds of the 310 meters (1020 feet ) low "mountain range" Mount Holyoke Range in the south of the city area. The Mount Holyoke Range, over whose highest points the supra-regional Metacomet Monadnock hiking trail runs, is used as a local recreation area primarily by hikers, but also by mountain bike riders and, in winter, by cross-country skiers or snowshoe hikers.


For information on universities, see section "Universities"

Amherst currently (as of 2010) has three elementary schools . Until 2008 or 2009, the city had four primary schools. The smallest of these, however, was closed despite good test results from the students when the city wanted to save a school. The school was just north of the University of Massachusetts Amherst , next to the School of Education ; their student body had a particularly high proportion of foreigners, as many parents were foreign students or doctoral students . Since then, there are in the school district Amherst- Pelham only four elementary schools (three in Amherst and one in Pelham).

Amherst has a junior high school , Amherst Regional Middle School , or ARMS for short . It is the only middle school in the Amherst-Pelham School District ( Amherst Regional Public Schools ) and is attended by students from Amherst, Pelham, Leverett and Shutesbury .

The Amherst Regional High School , ARHS for short , is the only high school in the Amherst-Pelham school district and, like the middle school (see there), has students from Amherst and surrounding areas. The school made national headlines in 2004 with the performance of Vagina Monologues , a play composed of monologues by women on topics such as sexual experiences and rape; Students under 17 needed written permission from their parents to attend the performance, but conservative voices, including lurid TV host Bill O'Reilly, criticized the students for being too young for the play's themes.

The high school sports teams, the Hurricanes , excel in the Ultimate Frisbee , where teams of girls and boys have won US championships several times. The school also won championship titles in the state of Massachusetts in cross-country (7 girls' titles between 1990 and 2006/2007 and one boys' title in 2001), basketball (girls 1992/1993, boys 2003) and baseball (so far the only boys' title in 2010 ). The girls 'basketball team from 1992/1993 also formed the basis for Madeleine Blais ' book In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle (1995), which was one of the finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award in the non-fiction category (cf. Non-fiction ). Probably the most internationally known former student is actress Uma Thurman , who spent part of her high school days in Amherst.


In 1812 Noah Webster moved his family to Amherst. At that time, Webster was already working on the An American Dictionary of the English Language , the dictionary with which he became famous and was to lay the foundation for today's standard work Merriam-Webster . In 1820, Webster helped found Amherst College.

Emily Dickinson, an important English poet, was born in 1830 on Main Street, the daughter of the lawyer and later member of the US House of Representatives, Edward Dickinson. Apart from studying at the precursor to Mount Holyoke College in neighboring South Hadley , she spent most of her life in Amherst and was buried in a family grave in the town's cemetery after her death in 1886. Since Dickinson published almost nothing in her life and only little went public, her traces in the city were limited to her house (Dickinson Homestead).

The musician J Mascis was born in 1965 and the cyclist Jonathan Hamblen in 1975 in Amherst. The actress Uma Thurman spent part of her youth in Amherst.

Other personalities moved to Amherst because of the universities. These include the poet Robert Frost (1874-1963), who worked from 1916 to 1938 English professor at Amherst College and is the namesake of today's library of the college, his student Robert Francis (1901-1987) and the Pulitzer Prize winner and professor at the university of Massachusetts, Madeleine Blais , with her writer husband John Katzenbach .

Web links

Commons : Category: Amherst (Massachusetts)  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Yes to 'The Vagina Monologues' But No to 'West Side Story' . Partial transcript of The O'Reilly Factor television show on January 14, 2003. on (accessed June 23, 2010)
  2. a b Ruth Owen Jones: The Prehistory of the Center ( Memento of August 27, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) On the website of the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies of the University of Massachusetts Amherst (English). Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  3. "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)
  4. The Amherst Common on the pages of the private Allen House Inn (English; September 29, 2007)
  5. Peter d'Errico: Jeffrey Amherst and Smallpox Blankets on (English; accessed September 17, 2007)
  6. FG: Shays' Rebellion on ( Memento from February 11, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (English) Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  7. ^ Amherst, Hampshire, County, MA. 1790 census. (own addition) (accessed September 18, 2007)
  8. a b c d Amherst town, Hampshire County, Massachusetts , data sheet with the results of the 2000 census at
  9. Town of Amherst, MA - Data Book (PDF, 542 kB), Amherst Planning Department (English).
  10. Kirin Makker (Fall 2005). In Praise of Concrete. UMassMag Online ( Memento of October 7, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (English) Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  11. Mission on the website of the Eric Carle Museum for Picture Book Art ( Memento of the original from May 4, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (English; accessed April 29, 2008)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. Amherst Regional Public Schools : Homepage of the Amherst-Pelham School District (accessed June 23, 2010)
  13. Jeff Thomas (June 20, 2010). Amherst wins Division I state baseball championship. (accessed June 23, 2010)
    Mike Moran (June 21, 2010). Amherst baseball wins first state title. ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
    Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. GazetteNet (accessed June 23, 2010) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /