Pittsfield is the largest city in and the county seat of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is the principal city of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Berkshire County. Its area code is 413. Its Zip Code is 01201 (01202 and 01203 are Zip Codes for Pittsfield P.O. Boxes). The population was 45,793 at the 2000 census and remains relatively stable. It is the county seat of Berkshire County, and it continues to be one of the population centers of Western Massachusetts, although the population has declined in recent decades.
In 2006, Forbes ranked Pittsfield as #61 in its list of Best Small Places for Business. In 2005, Farmers Insurance ranked Pittsfield 20th in the United States as Most Secure Place To Live (Small Towns fewer than 150,000 residents).
A group of young men came and began to clear the land in 1743, but threats of Indian raids associated with the conflict of the French and Indian War soon forced them to leave, and the land remained unoccupied by whites for several more years. Finally in 1752, settlers, many from Westfield, Massachusetts, arrived and a village began to grow, which was incorporated as Pontoosuck Plantation in 1753. By 1761 there were 200 residents and the plantation became the Township of Pittsfield.
By the end of the revolutionary war, Pittsfield had expanded to nearly 2,000 residents. While primarily an agricultural area, because of the many brooks that flowed into the Housatonic River, the landscape was dotted with mills that produced lumber, grist, paper and textiles. With the introduction of Merino sheep from Spain in 1807, the area became the center of woolen manufacturing in the United States, an industry that would dominate the community’s employment opportunities for almost a century.
The town was a bustling metropolis by the late 19th century. In 1891, the City of Pittsfield was incorporated, and William Stanley, who had recently relocated his Electric Manufacturing Company to Pittsfield from Great Barrington, produced the first electric transformer. Stanley’s enterprise was the forerunner of the internationally known corporate giant, General Electric. Thanks to the success of GE, Pittsfield’s population in 1930 had grown to more than 50,000. While GE Advanced Materials (now owned by SABIC-Innovative Plastics) continues to be one of the City’s largest employers, a workforce that once topped 13,000 was reduced to less than 700 with the demise and/or relocation of the transformer and aerospace portions of the General Electric empire.
The so-called Broken Window By-Law is the earliest known reference to "baseball" in North America. A finding that baseball was invented in 1839 by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown provided the rationale for baseball centennial celebrations in 1939, including the opening of a National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in that city. But few historians ever believed it and even the Hall's vice president, Jeff Idelson, has stated that "Baseball wasn't really born anywhere."
Professional baseball was played in Pittsfield's Wahconah Park from 1919 through 2003. From 1989 to 2001, the Pittsfield Mets and Pittsfield Astros (2001 only) represented the city in the New York - Penn League. The Astros have since moved to Troy, New York and are now known as the Tri-City ValleyCats.
Since 2005, Wahconah Park has been the home stadium of the Pittsfield Dukes, a summer collegiate amateur team of the New England Collegiate Baseball League owned by Dan Duquette, former Boston Red Sox general manager. The Dukes have attracted consistently larger crowds to Wahconah Park each summer.
Ulysses Frank Grant, born August 1, 1865 in Pittsfield, MA (died May 27, 1937), was an African American baseball player in the 19th century, who played in the International League and for various independent teams. He is widely considered to have been the greatest African-American player of the 19th century.
Arienti, Stephen 'Nails McGee,' born July 4, 1880, died December 24, 1945. A Major League Baseball player. He made his major league debut for the Brooklyn Superbas on May 15, 1900, and hit a home run in his first at bat. Nails McGee was known for his temper, and developed a reputation as being one of baseball's first hot heads. This resulted in his being hit with several bean balls, ultimately leading to a career ending concussion. Arienti died in his hometown of Pittsfield Mass, in 1945, and is buried in St. Joseph's cemetery.
Ferry, Alfred Joseph 'Cy', born September 27, 1878 , died September 27, 1938. A Major League Baseball Player. He made his major league debut on May 12, 1904, and played his final game on August 4, 1905. Ferry played for the Detroit Tigers in 1904, and the Cleveland Naps in 1905. He died in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1938, as is buried there.
Ferry, John Francis 'Jack', born April 7, 1887 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A Major League Baseball Player. He made his major league debut on September 4, 1910, and played his final game on June 7, 1913. Ferry played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1910 to 1913. He died in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, August 29, 1954.
The year 1999 was a milestone for Pittsfield, when negotiations between EPA, the state, General Electric and the City resulted in a landmark settlement – valued at over $250 million – to clean up Pittsfield and the Housatonic River. The settlement was memorialized in a Consent Decree that was entered in federal court the following year, making it a binding legal agreement. In the years since the settlement was reached, the EPA, state agencies, the City and GE have undertaken one of the largest and most complex cleanups in the country, while meeting the underlying objectives of the settlement: remediation, revitalization, and restoration. Examples of success are in plain view, most notably along the ancient Housatonic River as it winds through Pittsfield. Clean up work is complete on the first previously PCB-laden ½ mile of the Housatonic River, adjacent to the GE facility. Exceptional progress has been made on the 1 ½ Mile Reach between Lyman Street and Fred Garner Park. The EPA has overcome significant engineering hurdles, allowing this $90 million portion of the EPA clean up to be ahead of schedule and likely completed in late 2006. GE has also removed contaminated soil and restored 27 residential properties abutting the river. To date, more than of PCB-contaminated sediment, bank, and floodplain soil have been removed from the river and from people's yards.
Pittsfield is located at (42.452184, -73.251530).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 42.3 square miles (109.6 km²), of which, 40.7 square miles (105.5 km²) of it is land and 1.6 square miles (4.1 km²) of it (3.76%) is water. Pittsfield is bordered by Lanesborough to the north, Dalton to the east, Washington to the southeast, Lenox to the south, Richmond to the southwest, and Hancock to the west. Pittsfield is located northwest of Springfield and west of Boston.
Most of the population occupies roughly one quarter of the city's land. Pittsfield lies at the fork of the east and west branches of the Housatonic River, which heads southward from the city towards Long Island Sound. The eastern branch leads down from the hills, while the western branch is fed from Onota Lake and Pontoosuc Lake (which is on the Lanesborough town line). Like much of western Berkshire County, the city lies between the Berkshire Hills to the east, and the Taconic Range to the west. To the west of the city also lies Pittsfield State Forest, a 65 acre park with hiking and cross-country skiing trails, camping, picnic areas, and a swimming beach. Sections of the Housatonic Valley Wildlife Management Area also dot the banks of the river.
Pittsfield is located at the crossroads of U.S. Route 7 and U.S. Route 20 which join together in the city. Route 8 passes through the northeast corner of town, with a portion of it combined with Route 9, the central east-west road through the western part of the state, whose western terminus is in the city at Route 7. Route 41 also begins in the southwest corner of town, heading south from Route 20. The nearest interstate, Interstate 90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike) is located about south in Lee.
Long-distance ground transportation in Pittsfield is based at the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center which serves as the station for Amtrak trains and Peter Pan buses. The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA), the transit provider for Pittsfield and vicinity, is based at the Intermodal Center and also uses it as a hub for most of its lines. Rail freight transportation is provided by CSX Transportation and the Housatonic Railroad.
The FBO located at Pittsfield Municipal Airport offers access to the region via private and chartered aircraft ranging from single engine piston to multi-engine jet. They also offer scenic rides and flight training. The nearest airport with national service is Albany International Airport.
There were 19,704 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.9% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.0% were non-families. 34.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.89.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 18.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,655, and the median income for a family was $46,228. Males had a median income of $35,538 versus $26,341 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,549. About 8.9% of families and 11.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.7% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.
On the state level, Pittsfield has three representatives to the Massachusetts House of Representatives: the Second Berkshire, which serves most of central Berkshire County as well as portions of Hampshire County and Franklin County; the Third Berkshire, which covers most of the city proper; and the Fourth Berkshire, which covers southern Berkshire County as well as Chester, Blandford and Tolland in Hampden County. In the Massachusetts Senate, the city is represented by the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, which includes all of Berkshire County and western Hampshire and Franklin Counties. The city is patrolled by the Fourth (Cheshire) Station of Barracks "B" of the Massachusetts State Police.
On the national level, Pittsfield 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.
Pittsfield is the home to the main campus of Berkshire Community College. The nearest state colleges are Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams and Westfield State College, and the nearest state university is the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The nearest private colleges are Williams College in Williamstown and Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington.
Downtown Pittsfield is home to The Berkshire Museum, Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Athenaeum, Wahconah Park and Hebert Arboretum. In recent years, the city has undergone a transformation downtown with significant investment in the downtown, including new restaurants, condominium and other residential developments and cultural attractions. The community invested more than $22 million to refurbish the 100-year old Colonial Theatre, one of the only theaters of its kind from the Vaudeville age and has been described as the "one of the finest acoustical theaters in the world."
Barrington Stage Company, the Tony Award-winning producer of "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" invested millions into its newly-renovated stage in downtown Pittsfield, along with the development of other stages within the downtown for smaller performances. Barrington Stage's renowned head of its Musical Theatre Lab, William Finn, told the Boston Globe that he is determined to make Pittsfield the "epicenter of the musical theater universe."
The Berkshire Museum, the oldest and most diverse museum in the Berkshires, recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation that incorporated a state-of-the-art air control system that will allow it to attract world-class exhibits, which will make the institution an even greater draw.
Many of the Berkshires' oldest homes, dating to the mid-18th century, can be found in Pittsfield, as well as historic neighborhoods dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Several small multi-generational farms can still be found in Pittsfield, though suburban sprawl and land development have recently claimed some of this land.
Pittsfield is home to Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary, 264 acres (1.1 km²) of woods, fields, and wetlands maintained by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Bousquet Ski Area and Summer Resort entertains visitors and residents year-round with skiing, water slides, go-karts, and other fun activities.
The Berkshire Bike Path Council is presently working with the City of Pittsfield and local residents to extend the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, a popular 10.8 paved trail located just North of Pittsfield through Pittsfield to Great Barrington, south of Pittsfield and Lenox.
Cable television subscribers of TimeWarner Cable in the City of Pittsfield receive Public, Education and Government access channels (PEG Access), provided by Pittsfield Community Television (PCTV), on channels 16, 17 and 18:
Pittsfield Community Television is a not-for-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization and a member of the Alliance for Community Media. Programming on PCTV is available 24 hours per day, year-long, and is available online at www.pittsfieldtv.org.
One of Pittsfield's oldest radio stations, WBEC-FM 105.5 was sold and relocated to Mount Tom in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where it became a Springfield, Massachusetts radio station (Technically licensed to Easthampton). It relays of WEEI. The move changed over two decades of programming on the Pittsfield dial which moved WBEC-FM as a TOP40 station on 105.5 down to 95.9, WUPE (as oldies) up to 100.1 in North Adams, replacing the Beautiful/EZ format on 100.1 known as WMNB. Recently WBEC 95.9 changed from a HOT AC to an Adult Contemporary format, which was on 95.9 prior to the changes, as "Lite 95.9 WUPE", a mostly satellite driven format.