Suffolk County, Massachusetts

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Suffolk County
Suffolk County Courthouse Boston.jpg
Suffolk County Courthouse
Seal of Suffolk County, Massachusetts.png
Map of Massachusetts highlighting Suffolk County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Massachusetts
Massachusetts in United States.svg
Massachusetts's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 42°20′06″N71°04′25″W / 42.334949°N 71.073494°W / 42.334949; -71.073494
CountryFlag of the United States.svg United States
StateFlag of Massachusetts.svg  Massachusetts
FoundedMay 10, 1643
Named for Suffolk
Seat Boston
Largest cityBoston
Area
  Total120 sq mi (300 km2)
  Land58.15 sq mi (150.6 km2)
  Water62 sq mi (160 km2)  52%%
Population
 (2020)
  Total797,936 Increase2.svg
  Density13,698/sq mi (5,289/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 5th, 7th, 8th

Suffolk County is located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in the United States. As of the 2020 census, the population was 797,936, [1] making it the fourth-most populous county in Massachusetts. [2] The county comprises the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop. [3] The traditional county seat is Boston, the state capital and the largest city in Massachusetts. [4] The county government was abolished in 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 is located at 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.

Contents

History

Old Suffolk County Courthouse 1810-1841 Boston's Second City Hall 1841-1865.png
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. [5] The county was named after Suffolk, England, which means "southern folk." [6]

In 1731, the extreme western portions of Suffolk County, which included Mendon and 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. [7] 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. [8] 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. 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. [9]

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 [10]
PartyNumber of votersPercentage
Democratic 235,43649.90%
Republican 28,0335.94%
Unenrolled202,51042.92%
Minor Parties5,8501.24%
Total471,829100%
United States presidential election results for Suffolk County, Massachusetts [11]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.%No.%No.%
2020 58,61317.47%270,52280.64%6,3271.89%
2016 50,42116.09%245,75178.44%17,1115.46%
2012 59,99920.75%223,89677.45%5,2031.80%
2008 57,19421.24%207,12876.94%4,9001.82%
2004 54,92322.82%182,59275.88%3,1301.30%
2000 44,44120.48%154,88871.38%17,6718.14%
1996 39,75319.94%145,58673.01%14,0537.05%
1992 51,37823.43%132,92160.62%34,97415.95%
1988 77,13734.37%143,67764.02%3,5961.60%
1984 91,56337.37%152,56862.27%8660.35%
1980 73,27133.89%113,41652.46%29,52013.65%
1976 80,62334.70%142,01061.11%9,7394.19%
1972 85,27233.73%166,25065.76%1,2990.51%
1968 48,95218.20%203,40675.62%16,6196.18%
1964 40,25113.50%257,16186.22%8420.28%
1960 85,75025.25%252,82374.44%1,0440.31%
1956 162,83645.78%191,24553.77%1,6050.45%
1952 162,14740.05%240,95759.51%1,7750.44%
1948 105,67127.44%265,61168.98%13,7853.58%
1944 139,28537.19%234,47562.61%7270.19%
1940 138,57536.07%243,23363.32%2,3370.61%
1936 96,41827.55%223,73263.92%29,8608.53%
1932 88,73729.97%198,79267.14%8,5432.89%
1928 99,39232.47%204,60366.84%2,1350.70%
1924 104,65847.14%78,70235.45%38,63317.40%
1920 108,08958.08%67,55236.30%10,4575.62%
1916 42,49240.03%61,04757.51%2,6092.46%
1912 24,17924.71%46,05947.07%27,61328.22%
1908 46,33748.50%43,77345.82%5,4295.68%
1904 43,68144.14%51,71452.26%3,5693.61%
1900 40,95144.82%47,53452.03%2,8803.15%
1896 53,63359.89%31,74435.45%4,1744.66%
1892 35,30443.38%44,50454.68%1,5841.95%
1888 31,19144.15%38,54054.55%9211.30%
1884 23,28336.85%34,62154.80%5,2788.35%
1880 28,34649.21%28,86150.10%3960.69%
1876 22,83247.49%25,10152.21%1410.29%

Law enforcement

The Suffolk County Sheriff's Department's primary responsibility is oversight of the Nashua Street Jail and the South Bay House of Correction. These were built in the 1990s to replace the historic Charles Street Jail and Deer Island Prison, respectively. The Suffolk County Sheriff's Department was among those named in a 2020 WBUR report about the neglect of inmates with medical conditions in Massachusetts prisons leading to their deaths. [12]

Several notable figures in Massachusetts history were once the sheriff of Suffolk County: [13]

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. [14] 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

Major highways

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.
1790 44,865
1800 28,015−37.6%
1810 34,38122.7%
1820 43,94027.8%
1830 62,16341.5%
1840 95,77354.1%
1850 144,51750.9%
1860 192,70033.3%
1870 270,80240.5%
1880 387,92743.3%
1890 484,78025.0%
1900 611,41726.1%
1910 731,38819.6%
1920 835,52214.2%
1930 879,5365.3%
1940 863,248−1.9%
1950 896,6153.9%
1960 791,329−11.7%
1970 735,190−7.1%
1980 650,142−11.6%
1990 663,9062.1%
2000 689,8073.9%
2010 722,0234.7%
2020 797,93610.5%
2021 (est.)771,245−3.3%
U.S. Decennial Census [15]
1790-1960 [16] 1900-1990 [17]
1990-2000 [18] 2010-2020 [19] [20]

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. [21]

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. [22]

Suffolk County Racial Breakdown of Population (2017) [23] [24]
RacePercentage 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: [25] [26]

AncestryPercentage 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. [27] [28] [29]

RankTownArea (land)Per capita
income
Median
household
income
Median
family
income
PopulationNumber of
households
1 Winthrop City2.0 sq mi (5.2 km2)$36,624$61,744$81,64717,4307,356
Massachusetts State$35,051$65,981$83,3716,512,2272,522,409
2 Boston City48.42 sq mi (125.41 km2)$33,158$51,739$61,035609,942247,621
Suffolk CountyCounty$32,034$51,638$60,342713,089286,437
United States Country$27,915$52,762$64,293306,603,772114,761,359
3 Revere City5.9 sq mi (15.3 km2)$25,085$50,592$58,34550,84519,425
4 Chelsea City2.2 sq mi (5.7 km2)$20,214$43,155$46,96734,87212,035

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. Suffolk County.png
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.

Education

Each city has its own school district (including Boston Public Schools, Chelsea Public Schools, Revere Public Schools, and Winthrop Public Schools), which all follow municipal boundaries. [30]

Tertiary institutions in the county include:

Public library systems in the county include:

See also

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  31. "Chelsea Campus". Bunker Hill Community College . Retrieved July 22, 2022. 70 Everett Avenue Chelsea, MA 02150
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  33. "Home". Revere Public Library. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  34. "Home". Winthrop Public Library and Museum. Retrieved July 22, 2022.

Coordinates: 42°21′32″N71°03′28″W / 42.35892°N 71.05781°W / 42.35892; -71.05781