Former Essex County Courthouse in Salem
Location within the U.S. state of Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location within the U.S.
|Seat||Salem and Lawrence|
|o Total||828 sq mi (2,140 km2)|
|o Land||493 sq mi (1,280 km2)|
|o Water||336 sq mi (870 km2) 41%%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||1,509/sq mi (583/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Congressional districts||3rd, 6th|
Essex County is a county in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the total population was 743,159, making it the third-most populous county in the state. It is part of the Greater Boston area (the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area). The largest city in Essex County is Lynn. The county was named after the English county of Essex.
It has two traditional county seats: Salem and Lawrence. Prior to the dissolution of the county government in 1999, Salem had jurisdiction over the Southern Essex District, and Lawrence had jurisdiction over the Northern Essex District, but currently these cities do not function as seats of government. However, the county and the districts remain as administrative regions recognized by various governmental agencies, which gathered vital statistics or disposed of judicial case loads under these geographic subdivisions, and are required to keep the records based on them. The county has been designated the Essex National Heritage Area by the National Park Service.
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". Named after the county in England, Essex then comprised the towns of Salem, Lynn, Wenham, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Gloucester, and Andover. In 1680, Haverhill and Salisbury, both located north of the Merrimack River, were annexed to Essex County. These communities had been part of Massachusetts' colonial-era Norfolk County. The remaining four towns within colonial Norfolk County, which included Exeter and what is now Portsmouth, were transferred to what became Rockingham County in the Province of New Hampshire. The ten large founding Massachusetts-based settlements were then subdivided over the centuries to produce Essex County's modern composition of cities and towns.
From the founding of the Republican Party until the New Deal, Essex County was a Republican stronghold in presidential elections. Since 1936, it has trended Democratic, with Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 and Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 being the only Republicans to carry the county since.
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 Kevin Coppinger) 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.
Essex County is roughly diamond-shaped and occupies the northeastern corner of the state of Massachusetts.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 828 square miles (2,140 km2), of which 493 square miles (1,280 km2) is land and 336 square miles (870 km2) (41%) is water. 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, Middlesex County to the west and a very small portion of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire to the far north west in Methuen. All county land is incorporated into towns or cities.
These routes pass through Essex County:
The Lawrence Municipal Airport and Beverly Municipal Airport are regional airports within the county; the nearest commercial airports are Logan Airport in Boston and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, NH.
The MBTA commuter rail has two lines operating in Essex County: the Haverhill Line and the Newburyport Line, both of which go toward Boston. Close to Boston, MBTA buses also exist. The MVRTA is a bus company that connects cities within the Merrimack Valley portion of Essex County.
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:
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 743,159 people, 285,956 households, and 188,005 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,508.8 inhabitants per square mile (582.6/km2). There were 306,754 housing units at an average density of 622.8 per square mile (240.5/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 81.9% white, 3.8% black or African American, 3.1% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 8.2% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 16.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 23.3% were Irish, 17.1% were Italian, 12.6% were English, 6.1% were German, and 3.6% were American.
Of the 285,956 households, 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.9% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.3% were non-families, and 28.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.14. The median age was 40.4 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $64,153 and the median income for a family was $81,173. Males had a median income of $58,258 versus $44,265 for females. The per capita income for the county was $33,828. About 7.7% of families and 10.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.3% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
The ranking of unincorporated communities that are included on the list are reflective if the census designated locations and villages were included as cities or towns. Data is from the 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
|Voter registration and party enrollment as of October 17, 2018|
|Party||Number of voters||Percentage|
Essex County is home to numerous libraries and schools, both public and private.
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. 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 by rallying community support around saving the character of the area. 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.
The towns and cities of Essex County are listed below.