For geographic and demographic information on the village of North Scituate, which is a part of Scituate, please see the article North Scituate, Massachusetts.
In 1717 the western portion of the original grant was separated and incorporated as the town of Hanover, and in 1788 a section of the town was ceded to Marshfield. In 1849 another western section became the town of South Scituate, which later changed its name to Norwell. Since then, the borders have remained essentially unchanged.
Fishing was a significant part of the local economy in the past, as well as the sea mossing industry. A small fishing fleet is still resident in Scituate Harbor, although today the town is mostly residential.
In 1810, a lighthouse was erected on the northern edge of Scituate Harbor. This lighthouse is now known as Old Scituate Light. During the War of 1812, a British naval raiding party was deterred by the two daughters of the lighthouse keeper playing a fife and drum loudly. The girls and this incident became known as the "American Army of Two" or "Lighthouse Army of Two".
Another lighthouse, the notable Minot's Ledge Light, is located approximately one mile off Scituate Neck.
Samuel Woodworth's Old Oaken Bucket house is located in Scituate. The town is also home to the Lawson Tower, a water tower surrounded by a wooden façade, with an observation deck with views of most of the South Shore from the top.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 31.8 square miles (82.4 km²), of which, 17.2 square miles (44.5 km²) of it is land and 14.6 square miles (37.8 km²) of it (45.94%) is water. Scituate is bordered on the east by Massachusetts Bay, on the south by Marshfield, on the west by Norwell and Hingham, all of which are in Plymouth County, and on the northwest by Cohasset, in Norfolk County. The town is nineteen miles northeast of Brockton, and twenty-five miles southeast of Boston.
Scituate is considered a South Shore community, located just south of the mouth of greater Boston Harbor. The town is not contiguous; Humarock is a part of Scituate which can only be reached from Marshfield. The latter was formerly connected to the town, but that connection was lost with a river shift as the result of the Portland Gale of 1898. The town's shore varies, with the south (along the mouth of the North River) being marshy, the middle (around Scituate Harbor) being more bucolic, to the rocky coast of Scituate Neck (Minot) in the north. It is off these rocks that Minot's Ledge lies, home to the town's most famous lighthouse. The inland of the town is mostly wooded, with several brooks and rivers (including Cold Brook, for which the town is named) running through.
The town has no freeways running through it; Route 3 runs through neighboring Norwell. Route 3A runs through the town, and is known as Chief Justice Cushing Highway for this stretch, named for Chief Justice William Cushing (1732–1810). The only other state highway in town is Route 123, which terminates at Route 3A, just 0.7 miles from the town line.
There is no air service in town; the closest regional airport is Marshfield Municipal Airport, and the closest national and international air service is at Logan International Airport in Boston. There are two MBTA commuter rail stations. One being just off Route 3A in North Scituate, and the other just east of the intersection of Routes 3A and 123 in the Greenbush neighborhood, which is the line's eastern terminus. The line is connected to an existing line in Braintree, providing service to South Station in Boston.
Named places in the town include:
As of the census of 2000, there were 17,863 people, 6,694 households, and 4,920 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,039.6 people per square mile (401.5/km²). There were 7,685 housing units at an average density of 447.3/sq mi (172.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.71% White, 0.49% Black or African American, 0.03% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.29% from other races, and 1.01% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.83% of the population.
There were 6,694 households out of which 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.5% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.5% were non-families. 22.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the town the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 4.2% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 91.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.9 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $70,868, and the median income for a family was $86,058. Males had a median income of $60,322 versus $40,200 for females. The per capita income for the town was $33,940. About 1.4% of families and 2.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.5% of those under age 18 and 4.8% of those age 65 or over.
There are no divided highways that run through Scituate, however, there are two state roads, Route 3A and Route 123. The nearest airport to Scituate is Marshfield Municipal Airport. The nearest national and international air service can be reached at Logan International Airport in Boston. T. F. Green Airport, located outside Providence, Rhode Island, is an alternative to this airport, although it is located further away.
The Greenbush Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail begins in Scituate with the Greenbush station, proceeds north to Scituate's second stop, in North Scituate, where it continues to Cohasset and Hingham and finally South Station in Boston.
On the national level, Scituate is a part of Massachusetts's 10th congressional district, and is currently represented by Bill Delahunt. The state's senior (Class I) member of the United States Senate, re-elected in 2006, is Ted Kennedy. The junior (Class II) Senator, up for re-election in 2008, is John Kerry.
On the state level, Scituate is mostly represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a part of the Fourth Plymouth district, which also includes the town of Marshfield. The third precinct is a part of the Third Plymouth district, which includes Hingham, Hull and Cohasset. The town is represented in the Massachusetts Senate as a part of the Plymouth and Norfolk district, which includes the towns of Cohasset, Duxbury, Hingham, Hull, Marshfield Norwell and Weymouth. The town is patrolled by the First (Norwell) Barracks of Troop D of the Massachusetts State Police.
Scituate is governed on the local level by the open town meeting form of government, and is led by a town administrator and a board of selectmen. The town hall, police and fire station 3 are all located in buildings along Route 3A, just down the street from the traditional center of town. There is also a firehouse in Humarock and the Fire Headquarters is on First Parish Rd near Scituate Harbor. Emergency services are also provided by the town, with the nearest hospitals being located in Quincy, Weymouth, Plymouth, and Brockton. There are four post offices throughout the town, located in Humarock, near the harbor and the neck, and in North Scituate, just off the right-of-way of the Greenbush line and adjacent to the site of the station. The Scituate Town Library is located near Scituate Center, and is a member of the Old Colony Library Network (OCLN). The town also operates a highway department, as well as several parks, beaches and marinas. The Coast Guard also has a station at Scituate Harbor, just opposite First Cliff.
High school students may also choose to attend South Shore Vocational Technical High School in Hanover free of charge. Also, many students, specifically in high school, commute to private schools in and around Boston, most commonly, Thayer Academy and Archbishop Williams in Braintree, Boston College High School (boys only) in Dorchester, and Notre Dame Academy (girls only) in Hingham. B.C. High enrolled 61 young men from Scituate in the 2005–2006 school year.