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Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Suffolk County Courthouse Boston.jpg
Suffolk County Courthouse
Seal of Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Seal
Map of Massachusetts highlighting Suffolk County
Location in the state of Massachusetts
Map of the U.S. highlighting Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location in the U.S.
Founded May 10, 1643
Named for Suffolk
Seat Boston
Largest city Boston
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

120 sq mi (311 km²)
58.15 sq mi (151 km²)
62 sq mi (161 km²), 52%
Population
 - (2020)
 - Density

797,936
13,698/sq mi (5,289/km²)
Congressional districts 5th, 7th, 8th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Suffolk County is located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in the United States. As of 2019, the population estimate was 803,907[1] making it the fourth-most populous county in Massachusetts. The county comprises the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.[2]

The traditional county seat is Boston, the state capital and the largest city in Massachusetts.[3] The county government was abolished in late 1999, and so Suffolk County today functions only as an administrative subdivision of state government and a set of communities grouped together for some statistical purposes. Suffolk County constitutes the core of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the greater Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT Combined Statistical Area.

History[]

Old Suffolk County Courthouse 1810-1841

The county was created by the Massachusetts General Court on May 10, 1643, when it was ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four shires". Suffolk initially contained Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Dedham, Braintree, Weymouth, and Hingham.[4] The county was named after Suffolk, England, which means "southern folk."[5]

In 1731, the extreme western portions of Suffolk County, which included Uxbridge, were split off to become part of Worcester County. In 1793, most of the original Suffolk County (including Milton) except for Boston, Chelsea, Hingham, and Hull (which remained in Suffolk) split off and became Norfolk County. Hingham and Hull would leave Suffolk County and join Plymouth County in 1803.[6] Revere was set off from Chelsea and incorporated in 1846 and Winthrop was set off from Revere and incorporated in 1852. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Boston annexed several adjacent cities and towns including Hyde Park, Roxbury, West Roxbury, and Dorchester from Norfolk County and Charlestown and Brighton from Middlesex County, resulting in an enlargement of Suffolk County.

Government and politics[]

Like an increasing number of Massachusetts counties, Suffolk County exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government.[7] All former county functions were assumed by state agencies in 1999. The sheriff, district attorney, 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, executives or commissioners. Immediately prior to the abolition of county government, the authority of the Suffolk County Commission had for many years been exercised by the Boston City Council, even though three communities in the county are not part of the city. However, communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services.[8]

Politically speaking, Suffolk County supports the Democratic Party overwhelmingly. No Republican presidential candidate has won there since Calvin Coolidge in 1924. In 2012 Barack Obama received 77.4% of the vote, compared to 20.8% for former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney. In the 2014 gubernatorial election, Martha Coakley carried the county by a 32.4% margin, while losing the election statewide by 48.4 to 46.5%. In 2020, Joe Biden won the county by the largest margin of any presidential candidate since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, and was the first candidate since then to win more than 80% of the vote in the county.

Voter registration and party enrollment as of October 17, 2018[9]
Party Number of voters Percentage
Democratic 235,436 49.90%
Republican 28,033 5.94%
Unenrolled 202,510 42.92%
Minor Parties 5,850 1.24%
Total 471,829 100%
United States presidential election results for Suffolk County, Massachusetts[10]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 58,613 17.47% 270,522 80.64% 6,327 1.89%
2016 50,421 16.09% 245,751 78.44% 17,111 5.46%
2012 59,999 20.75% 223,896 77.45% 5,203 1.80%
2008 57,194 21.24% 207,128 76.94% 4,900 1.82%
2004 54,923 22.82% 182,592 75.88% 3,130 1.30%
2000 44,441 20.48% 154,888 71.38% 17,671 8.14%
1996 39,753 19.94% 145,586 73.01% 14,053 7.05%
1992 51,378 23.43% 132,921 60.62% 34,974 15.95%
1988 77,137 34.37% 143,677 64.02% 3,596 1.60%
1984 91,563 37.37% 152,568 62.27% 866 0.35%
1980 73,271 33.89% 113,416 52.46% 29,520 13.65%
1976 80,623 34.70% 142,010 61.11% 9,739 4.19%
1972 85,272 33.73% 166,250 65.76% 1,299 0.51%
1968 48,952 18.20% 203,406 75.62% 16,619 6.18%
1964 40,251 13.50% 257,161 86.22% 842 0.28%
1960 85,750 25.25% 252,823 74.44% 1,044 0.31%
1956 162,836 45.78% 191,245 53.77% 1,605 0.45%
1952 162,147 40.05% 240,957 59.51% 1,775 0.44%
1948 105,671 27.44% 265,611 68.98% 13,785 3.58%
1944 139,285 37.19% 234,475 62.61% 727 0.19%
1940 138,575 36.07% 243,233 63.32% 2,337 0.61%
1936 96,418 27.55% 223,732 63.92% 29,860 8.53%
1932 88,737 29.97% 198,792 67.14% 8,543 2.89%
1928 99,392 32.47% 204,603 66.84% 2,135 0.70%
1924 104,658 47.14% 78,702 35.45% 38,633 17.40%
1920 108,089 58.08% 67,552 36.30% 10,457 5.62%
1916 42,492 40.03% 61,047 57.51% 2,609 2.46%
1912 24,179 24.71% 46,059 47.07% 27,613 28.22%
1908 46,337 48.50% 43,773 45.82% 5,429 5.68%
1904 43,681 44.14% 51,714 52.26% 3,569 3.61%
1900 40,951 44.82% 47,534 52.03% 2,880 3.15%
1896 53,633 59.89% 31,744 35.45% 4,174 4.66%
1892 35,304 43.38% 44,504 54.68% 1,584 1.95%
1888 31,191 44.15% 38,540 54.55% 921 1.30%
1884 23,283 36.85% 34,621 54.80% 5,278 8.35%
1880 28,346 49.21% 28,861 50.10% 396 0.69%
1876 22,832 47.49% 25,101 52.21% 141 0.29%



Geography[]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 120 square miles (310 km2), of which 58 square miles (150 km2) is land and 62 square miles (160 km2) (52%) is water.[11] It is the second-smallest county in Massachusetts by land area and smallest by total area.

Adjacent counties[]

Suffolk County has no land border with Plymouth County to its southeast, but the two counties share a water boundary in the middle of Massachusetts Bay.

National protected areas[]

  • Boston African American National Historic Site
  • Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area (part)
  • Boston National Historical Park

Major highways[]

  • Template:Jct/2
  • I-93
  • US 1
  • US 20
  • [[Template:Infobox road/MA/link MA|Template:Infobox road/MA/abbrev MA]]
  • [[Template:Infobox road/MA/link MA|Template:Infobox road/MA/abbrev MA]]
  • [[Template:Infobox road/MA/link MA|Template:Infobox road/MA/abbrev MA]]
  • [[Template:Infobox road/MA/link MA|Template:Infobox road/MA/abbrev MA]]
  • [[Template:Infobox road/MA/link MA|Template:Infobox road/MA/abbrev MA]]
  • [[Template:Infobox road/MA/link MA|Template:Infobox road/MA/abbrev MA]]
  • [[Template:Infobox road/MA/link MA|Template:Infobox road/MA/abbrev MA]]
  • [[Template:Infobox road/MA/link MA|Template:Infobox road/MA/abbrev MA]]
  • [[Template:Infobox road/MA/link MA|Template:Infobox road/MA/abbrev MA]]
  • [[Template:Infobox road/MA/link MA|Template:Infobox road/MA/abbrev MA]]

Demographics[]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 44,865
1800 28,015 −37.6%
1810 34,381 22.7%
1820 43,940 27.8%
1830 62,163 41.5%
1840 95,773 54.1%
1850 144,517 50.9%
1860 192,700 33.3%
1870 270,802 40.5%
1880 387,927 43.3%
1890 484,780 25.0%
1900 611,417 26.1%
1910 731,388 19.6%
1920 835,522 14.2%
1930 879,536 5.3%
1940 863,248 −1.9%
1950 896,615 3.9%
1960 791,329 −11.7%
1970 735,190 −7.1%
1980 650,142 −11.6%
1990 663,906 2.1%
2000 689,807 3.9%
2010 722,023 4.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790-1960[13] 1900-1990[14]
1990-2000[15] 2010-2020[16][17]

Of the 292,767 households, 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.1% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 52.0% were non-families, and 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.11. The median age was 31.5 years.[18]

The median income for a household in the county was $50,597 and the median income for a family was $58,127. Males had a median income of $48,887 versus $43,658 for females. The per capita income for the county was $30,720. About 15.7% of families and 20.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.1% of those under age 18 and 19.1% of those age 65 or over.[19]

Suffolk County Racial Breakdown of Population (2017)[20][21]
Race Percentage of
Suffolk County
population
Percentage of
Massachusetts
population
Percentage of
United States
population
County-to-State
Difference
County-to-USA
Difference
White 61.7% 81.3% 76.6% –19.6% –14.9%
White (Non-Hispanic) 45.4% 72.1% 60.7% –26.7% –15.3%
Black 24.9% 8.8% 13.4% +16.1% +11.5%
Hispanic 22.9% 11.9% 18.1% +11.0% +4.8%
Asian 9.1% 6.9% 5.8% +2.2% +3.3%
Native Americans/Hawaiians 0.9% 0.6% 1.5% +0.3% –0.6%
Two or more races 3.4% 2.4% 2.7% +1.0% +0.7%

Ancestry[]

According to the 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, the largest ancestry groups in Suffolk County, Massachusetts are:[22][23]

Ancestry Percentage of
Suffolk County
population
Percentage of
Massachusetts
population
Percentage of
United States
population
County-to-State
Difference
County-to-USA
Difference
Irish 13.73% 21.16% 10.39% –7.42% +3.35%
Italian 9.50% 13.19% 5.39% –3.69% +7.80%
West Indian 6.05% 1.96% 0.90% +4.09% +1.05%
Puerto Rican 5.32% 4.52% 1.66% +0.80% +3.66%
English 4.32% 9.77% 7.67% –5.45% –3.35%
German 4.21% 6.00% 14.40% –1.79% –10.19%
Chinese 4.02% 2.28% 1.24% +1.74% +2.78%
American 3.96% 4.26% 6.89% –0.30% –2.93%
Sub-Saharan African 3.78% 2.00% 1.01% +1.78% +2.76%
Haitian 3.13% 1.15% 0.31% +1.98% +2.82%
Polish 2.41% 4.67% 2.93% –2.26% –0.53%
French 2.01% 6.82% 2.56% –4.81% –0.55%
Cape Verdean 1.99% 0.97% 0.03% +1.02% +1.96%
Vietnamese 1.61% 0.69% 0.54% +0.92% +1.07%
Russian 1.56% 1.65% 0.88% –0.08% +0.69%
Arab 1.54% 1.10% 0.59% +0.44% +0.95%
Jamaican 1.47% 0.44% 0.34% +1.03% +1.12%
Scottish 1.27% 2.28% 1.71% –1.02% –0.45%
Asian Indian 1.22% 1.39% 1.09% –0.17% +0.13%
Mexican 1.18% 0.67% 11.96% +0.51% –10.78%
French Canadian 1.19% 3.91% 0.65% –2.72% +0.53%

Demographic breakdown by town[]

Income[]

Data is from the 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.[24][25][26]

Rank Town Area (land) Per capita
income
Median
household
income
Median
family
income
Population Number of
households
1 Winthrop City 2.0 sq mi (5.2 km2) $36,624 $61,744 $81,647 17,430 7,356
Massachusetts State $35,051 $65,981 $83,371 6,512,227 2,522,409
2 Boston City 48.42 sq mi (125.41 km2) $33,158 $51,739 $61,035 609,942 247,621
Suffolk County County $32,034 $51,638 $60,342 713,089 286,437
United States Country $27,915 $52,762 $64,293 306,603,772 114,761,359
3 Revere City 5.9 sq mi (15.3 km2) $25,085 $50,592 $58,345 50,845 19,425
4 Chelsea City 2.2 sq mi (5.7 km2) $20,214 $43,155 $46,967 34,872 12,035

Communities[]

Map of Suffolk County showing (clockwise from bottom) Boston (red), Chelsea (yellow), Revere (green), and Winthrop (blue). Interior water features such as Boston Harbor are filled in by the color of the containing city.

See also[]

  • Registry of Deeds (Massachusetts)
  • USS Suffolk County (LST-1173)
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Suffolk County, Massachusetts

References[]

  1. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Suffolk County, Massachusetts". https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/25025. 
  2. ^ "A Listing of Counties and the Cities and Towns Within". Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. https://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cisctlist/ctlistcoun.htm. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Counties/Pages/FindACounty.aspx. 
  4. ^ Davis, William T. Bench and Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, p. 44. The Boston History Company, 1895.
  5. ^ Thomas Cox, Anthony Hall, Robert Morden, Magna Britannia Antiqua & Nova: Or, A New, Exact, and Comprehensive Survey of the Ancient and Present State of Great Britain, Volume 5, (Caesar Ward and Richard Chandler: London, 1738), pg. 171 (accessed on Google Book Search, June 22, 2008)
  6. ^ "History of Norfolk County - Norfolk County". http://www.norfolkcounty.org/index.cfm?pid=10429. 
  7. ^ "CIS: Historical Data Relating to the Incorporation of Counties in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts". http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cisctlist/ctlistcounin.htm. 
  8. ^ See also: League of Women Voters page on counties Script error: No such module "webarchive"..
  9. ^ "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 17, 2018" (PDF). Massachusetts Elections Division. http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/enrollment_count_20181017.pdf. 
  10. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS. 
  11. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/docs/gazetteer/counties_list_25.txt. 
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census.html. 
  13. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu. 
  14. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/population/cencounts/ma190090.txt. 
  15. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/briefs/phc-t4/tables/tab02.pdf. 
  16. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/25/25025.html. 
  17. ^ "2020 Population and Housing State Data". United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2020-population-and-housing-state-data.html. 
  18. ^ "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/DEC/10_DP/DPDP1/0500000US25025. 
  19. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/10_5YR/DP03/0500000US25025. 
  20. ^ "Suffolk County, Massachusetts QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". census.gov. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/suffolkcountymassachusetts,US/PST045217. 
  21. ^ "Massachusetts QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". census.gov. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/ma,US/PST045217. 
  22. ^ "PEOPLE REPORTING ANCESTRY 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov. 
  23. ^ "ACS DEMOGRAPHIC AND HOUSING ESTIMATES 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov. 
  24. ^ "SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_11_5YR_DP03&prodType=table. 
  25. ^ "ACS DEMOGRAPHIC AND HOUSING ESTIMATES 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_11_5YR_DP05&prodType=table. 
  26. ^ "HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_11_5YR_S1101&prodType=table. 

External links[]

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Coordinates: 42°21′32″N 71°03′28″W / 42.35892, -71.05781

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