Definitions

florida selaginella

Florida, Massachusetts

Florida is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 676 at the 2000 census. It is home to the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel, as well as Whitcomb Summit (elevation 2,172 feet), the highest point of the Mohawk Trail. Florida is also known for the Florida Mountain Turnip, and holds an annual Turnip Festival.

History

Florida was first settled in 1783 by Dr. Daniel Nelson of Connecticut as the Bernardston Grant. It was officially incorporated in 1805, named for the then-territory which was a topic of debate over its expansion. The town was mostly agrarian, with maple syrup, wool and potatoes being the main products of the town for many years. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, the town was a boom town for the workers involved in the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel, a rail tunnel which begins on the town's eastern border and extends through the Hoosac Range to neighboring North Adams. Today the town is sparsely populated, with most residents working in neighboring towns.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 24.6 square miles (63.6 km²), of which, 24.4 square miles (63.1 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) of it (0.81%) is water.

Florida is located at 42° 39'57.77"N, 72° 56'29.38"W. Florida is bordered on the north by Stamford, Vermont, on the northeast by Monroe, on the east by Rowe, on the southeast by Charlemont, on the south by Savoy, on the southwest by Adams, and on the west by North Adams and Clarksburg. The town's population is mostly concentrated along the Mohawk Trail, which runs through the town, and its villages, Drury, Florida and Whitcomb Summit.

Florida is located near the highest points of the Hoosac Range, which runs through the western part of town. There are several rivers and brooks, most of which lead to the Deerfield River, which makes up much of the eastern border. The town includes parts of three state forests - Monroe State Forest in the northeast, Savoy Mountain State Forest in the south, and Mohawk Trail State Forest in the southeast.

Route 2, also known as the Mohawk Trail, runs from the southeast of town thorugh to the west. Whitcomb Summit, near the western border of town, is the highest point along the trail, and has an observatory, as well as a monument to the Elks Club, whose members helped modernize the trails and worked on the Hoosac Tunnel. Just west of the town is the West Summit, which offers spectacular views of the Hoosic River Valley and the Taconic Range further west. There are no other state routes through town, and the nearest interstate highway is Interstate 91 to the east.

The Hoosac Tunnel carries the railway under the town, and as such has no stops in town. The nearest regional bus service can be found in North Adams, as can the nearest regional airport, Harriman and West Airport. The nearest airport with national flights is Albany International Airport.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 676 people, 265 households, and 196 families residing in the town. Florida's population ranks 27th out of the 32 towns in Berkshire County, and 337th out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The population density was 27.7 people per square mile (10.7/km²), making it the 24th most densely populated town in the county, and 333rd in the Commonwealth. There were 294 housing units at an average density of 12.1/sq mi (4.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.49% White, 0.59% African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.30% from other races, and 0.74% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.44% of the population.

There were 265 households out of which 32.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.7% were married couples living together, 4.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.7% were non-families. 22.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the town the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 4.3% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 25.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 109.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $43,000, and the median income for a family was $52,500. Males had a median income of $32,000 versus $23,906 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,979. About 3.3% of families and 5.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.

Government

Florida is governed by an open town meeting form of government, which is led by a board of selectmen and a town secretary. The town has its own services, including fire and public works, as well as the Florida Free Library, a small library with association to the regional library services. The nearest hospital, North Adams Regional Hospital, is located in neighboring North Adams.

On the state level, Florida is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by the First Berkshire district, which covers northern Berkshire County, as well as portions of Franklin County. In the Massachusetts Senate, the town is represented by the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, which includes all of Berkshire County and western Hampshire and Franklin Counties. The town's police services are provided by the Fourth (Cheshire) Station of Troop B of the Massachusetts State Police.

On the national level, Florida is represented in the United States House of Representatives as part of Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, and has been represented by John Olver of Amherst since June 1991. Massachusetts is represented in the United States Senate by senior Senator Ted Kennedy and junior Senator John Kerry.

Education

Florida has one school, the Gabriel Abbott Memorial School, which serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The school also serves the students of neighboring Monroe. The town sends its high school students to either Drury High School or Charles H. McCann Technical School, both of which are in North Adams.

The nearest community college is Berkshire Community College, located in Pittsfield. The nearest public college is Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in neighboring North Adams, and the nearest university is the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The nearest private college is Williams College in Williamstown.

References

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