Facts about Massachusetts

History | Symbols | Interesting Facts | Famous People

Statehood:  February 6, 1788, the 6th state

Capital:  Boston

Total Area:  45th among states, 27,336 sq km (10,554 sq mi)

Water Area:  3,634 sq km (1,403 sq mi)

Highest Point:  Mount Greylock, 1,063 m (3,495 ft)

Total Population:   14th among states
2010 census -  6,547,629

Population Density in 2010:  839.4 people per sq mi

Distribution in 2000:  90.5% Urban, 9.5% Rural

Gross State Product - $377.7 billion (2010)
Personal income per Capita - $49,875 (2009)

Largest cities in 2010: 
Boston:  617,594
Worcester:  181,045
Springfield:  153,060

  • Boston claims first to many of the nation’s firsts.  Boston Common became the first public park in 1634.  Boston Latin School became the first secondary school in 1635.  Harvard, the first college, was founded in 1636. The first post office, free public school and public library were all founded in Boston.   The first newspaper, lighthouse, and subway were all started in Boston.  The sewing machine was also invented in Boston in 1845. 

  • The 3rd Monday in April is a legal holiday, Patriot’s Day, in Massachusetts. 

  • The Peabody Essex Museum has over 500 original documents of the Salem witch trials in 1692. 

  • James Naismith invented basketball in Springfield in 1891.  He taught physical education and wanted an indoor sport for his students during the winter months. 

  • William Morgan invented volleyball in Holyoke in 1895.  It was first called “Mintonette,” and later changed to volleyball. 

  • The Boston University Bridge on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train driving under a car driving under an airplane. 

  • There is displayed a giant milk bottle at the Children’s Museum in Boston that if it were real could hold 50,000 gallons of milk and 8,620 gallons of cream. 

  • In 1838 the Boston & West Worcester Railroad was the first railroad to charge commuter fares. 

  • Quincy is home to the first Dunkin Donuts and the first Howard Johnson’s. 

  • James Michael Curley was the first mayor of Boston to have a car.  The license plate number was “576,” the number of letters respectively in his name.  Today, the mayor of Boston’s official car still has the same number on its license plate.
  • In the 1840s the potato famine drove many Irish to Massachusetts, and they eventually became the state's largest ethnic group.
  • Harvard University, the nation's oldest college, was chartered in Cambridge in 1636.

  • The Handel and Haydn Society, one of the nation's oldest continually performing musical groups, was formed in Boston in 1815 by Gottlieb Graupner.

  • Among the many attractions of Boston is the Old South Meeting House, and the Old North Church, where lanterns signaled the start of Paul Revere's ride.