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Essex County, Massachusetts
Map of Massachusetts highlighting Essex County
Location in the state of Massachusetts
Map of the U.S. highlighting Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location in the U.S.
Founded 1643
Seat Salem & Lawrence
County government abolished in 1999
Largest city Lynn
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

828.53 sq mi (2,146 km²)
500.67 sq mi (1,297 km²)
327.86 sq mi (849 km²), 39.57%
 - (2010)
 - Density

1,483/sq mi (573/km²)

Essex County is a county located in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the population was 743,159. It has two traditional county seats: Salem and Lawrence.[1] Its county government was abolished in 1999, though it continues to exist as a historic geographic area. Because of its rich historic heritage, the entire county has been designated the Essex National Heritage Area by the National Park Service.

History[edit | edit source]

Printed in 1812, this political cartoon illustrates the electoral districts drawn by the Massachusetts legislature to favor the incumbent Democratic-Republican party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists, from which the term gerrymander is derived. The cartoon depicts the bizarre shape of a district in Essex County as a dragon.

The county was created by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on May 10, 1643, when it was ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four sheires". Essex then comprised the towns of Salem, Lynn, Wenham, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Gloucester, and Andover,[2] which were subdivided over the centuries to produce the modern composition of cities and towns.

Essex County is famous as the area that Elbridge Gerry (who was born and raised in Marblehead) districted into a salamander-like shape in 1812 that gave rise to the word gerrymandering.

Law and government[edit | edit source]

Like several other Massachusetts counties, Essex County exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government. All former county functions were assumed by state agencies in 1999. The sheriff (currently Frank Cousins) 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, commissioner, or county employees. Communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services. See also: League of Women Voters page on Massachusetts counties.

Geography[edit | edit source]

According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 828.53 square miles (2,145.9 km2), of which 500.67 square miles (1,296.7 km2) (or 60.43%) is land and 327.86 square miles (849.2 km2) (or 39.57%) is water.[3] Essex County is adjacent to Rockingham County, New Hampshire to the north, the Atlantic Ocean (specifically the Gulf of Maine and Massachusetts Bay) to the east, Suffolk County to the south, and Middlesex County to the west. All county land is incorporated into towns or cities.

Essex County includes the North Shore, Cape Ann, and the lower portions of the Merrimack Valley.

National protected areas[edit | edit source]

Because of Essex County's rich history, which includes 17th century colonial history, maritime history spanning its existence, and leadership in the expansions of the textile industry in the 19th century, the entire county has been designated the Essex National Heritage Area by the National Park Service.

The following areas of national significance have also been preserved:

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 57,879
1800 61,196 5.7%
1810 71,888 17.5%
1820 74,655 3.8%
1830 82,859 11.0%
1840 94,987 14.6%
1850 131,300 38.2%
1860 165,611 26.1%
1870 200,843 21.3%
1880 244,535 21.8%
1890 299,995 22.7%
1900 357,030 19.0%
1910 436,477 22.3%
1920 482,156 10.5%
1930 498,040 3.3%
1940 496,313 −0.3%
1950 522,384 5.3%
1960 568,831 8.9%
1970 637,887 12.1%
1980 633,632 −0.7%
1990 670,080 5.8%
2000 723,419 8.0%
2010 743,159 2.7%

As of the census[7] of 2010, there were 743,159 people, 306,754 households, and 185,081 families residing in the county. The population density was 1508.8 people per square mile (558/km²). There were 287,144 housing units at an average density of 574 per square mile (221/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 76.0% White, 3.8% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 3.1% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 6.20% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. 16.5% of the population is Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.4% were of Irish, 15.1% Italian, 9.9% English, 5.6% French and 5.0% French Canadian ancestry according to Census 2010. 80.8% spoke English, 10.2% Spanish, 1.4% French, 1.2% Italian and 1.0% Portuguese as their first language.

There were 275,419 households out of which 32.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.10% were married couples living together, 12.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.80% were non-families. 27.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.20% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 30.30% from 25 to 44, 23.10% from 45 to 64, and 13.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $51,576, and the median income for a family was $63,746. Males had a median income of $44,569 versus $32,369 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,358. About 6.60% of families and 8.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.90% of those under age 18 and 8.90% of those age 65 or over.

In 2006, Essex County received the dubious honor of being named number one on Forbes Magazine's list of most overpriced places to live in the U.S. The magazine cited high living costs and expensive real estate as the major reasons Essex County was picked over cities with higher mean real estate values (San Diego, New York, Honolulu.)

Cities, towns, and villages*[edit | edit source]

*Villages are census divisions, but have no separate corporate existence from the towns they are in.

Politics[edit | edit source]

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2008 39.01% 136,905 59.36% 208,323
2004 40.5% 135,114 58.2% 194,068
2000 35.4% 110,010 57.5% 178,400
1996 30.6% 89,120 58.7% 171,021
1992 31.7% 102,212 43.6% 140,593
1988 48.6% 148,614 49.7% 151,816
1984 54.8% 162,152 44.8% 132,353
1980 43.8% 130,252 39.0% 116,173
1976 41.6% 125,538 55.0% 165,710
1972 46.5% 138,040 53.0% 157,324
1968 35.4% 99,721 61.0% 171,901
1964 25.3% 71,653 73.4% 210,135
1960 42.9% 126,599 56.9% 167,875
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 13, 2010[8]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
  Democratic 158,409 32.98%
  Republican 57,759 12.02%
  Unaffiliated 261,600 54.46%
  Minor Parties 2,619 0.55%
Total 480,387 100%

Education[edit | edit source]

Essex County is home to several libraries and schools, both public and private.

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Secondary education[edit | edit source]

Public Schools[edit | edit source]

Technical Schools[edit | edit source]

Private Schools[edit | edit source]

Higher education[edit | edit source]

Essex National Heritage Area[edit | edit source]

On November 12, 1996, Essex National Heritage Area (ENHA) was authorized by Congress. The heritage area consists of all of Essex County, MA a 500-square-mile (1,300 km2) area between the Atlantic Coast and the Merrimack Valley. The area includes 34 cities and towns; two National Historic Sites (Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site); and thousands of historic sites and districts that illuminate colonial settlement, the development of the shoe and textile industries, and the growth and decline of the maritime industries — including fishing, privateering, and the China trade.[9] The Essex National Heritage Area is one of 49 heritage areas designated by Congress, affiliated with the National Park Service.

The Essex National Heritage Commission is a non-profit organization chartered to promote tourism and cultural awareness of the area, connecting people to the places of Essex County, MA. The Commission's mission is to promote and preserve the historic, cultural and natural resources of the ENHA. This is accomplished through the commission's projects and programs which include; Partnership Grant Program, Explorers membership program, Photo Safaris, and the annual September weekend event 'Trails & Sails' as well as other important regional partnership building projects like the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway, and the Border to Boston trail.

Notable Residence[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Essex County References

Further reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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Coordinates: 42°38′N 70°52′W / 42.64, -70.87

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