73 Massachusetts Facts and Weird Laws

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Massachusetts attained statehood in 1788. It became the first state to join the Union. Massachusetts has many nicknames, The Bay State, The Old Colony State, Pilgrim State, and The Codfish State. 

Massachusetts is one of the original 13 colonies and one of the six New England states. It was officially called a commonwealth. The Bay State was known for being the motherland of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims. English explorer and colonist John Smith named the state for the Massachusetts tribe. 

From the Boston Tea Party to the first-ever Dunkin Donuts, it’s easy to say that the Bay State forms the backbones of America’s most important culture.

If you are thinking of visiting the State of Massachusetts or maybe even moving there. You may want to take a look at these facts about Massachusetts before you do so.

Let’s learn some fun Massachusetts facts you may not know. Be sure to check out the top 10 weird laws in Massachusetts at the end. 

Best Fun Facts About Massachusetts 

  1. Massachusetts is an important landmark of American history.
  2. Massachusetts has the second-largest cranberry crop in the nation!
  3. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England.
  4. Massachusetts has a 40-member Senate and a 160-member House of Representatives.
  5. Massachusetts has a First American public secondary school, Boston Latin Grammar School.
  6. Massachusetts has one of the lowest divorce rates among the US states.
  7. The first lighthouse in the United States was the Boston Harbor Light Station, built-in 1716.
  8.  The first regularly issued American newspaper, “The Boston News-Letter”, was published in Boston.
  9. In 1897, the first American subway system was opened in Boston.

Massachusetts Facts — Politics And Government

  1. Massachusetts’s government consists of the General Assembly, made up of a State Senate and House of Representatives, the Governor, and the judiciary.
  2. Massachusetts politics were long dominated by the Republican Party—from after the Civil War until 1952.
  3. Massachusetts has played an important role in national politics. It has contributed five presidents—Adams and his son John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush—as well as several presidential nominees and a great number of cabinet officers, career bureaucrats, diplomats, and congressional leaders.
  4. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Massachusetts politics became a means to a better life—to a place alongside the Boston Brahmins of Mayflower heritage—for the Irish and other immigrant groups who experienced great discrimination and hostility. 
  5. The Massachusetts Government Act abrogated the colony’s charter of 1691, reducing it to the level of a crown colony, replacing the elective local council with an appointive one, enhancing the powers of the military governor, Gen. Thomas Gage, and forbidding town meetings without approval.
  6. The MASSACHUSETTS CONSTITUTION was ratified in 1780 while the Revolutionary War was still in progress, nine years before the United States Constitution was adopted. It is the oldest written Constitution now in use in the world. It specified three branches of Government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.
  7. The governor is head of the executive branch and serves as the chief administrative officer of the state and as commander-in-chief of Massachusetts military forces. 
  8. The Governor may recommend new policies for Massachusetts, new legislation, and changes in the administration of departments that conduct the government from today. He or she has the power to order out the National Guard to meet domestic emergencies and is the state’s chief spokesman with the federal government.
  9. The Massachusetts Senate is the second oldest democratic deliberative body in the world.
  10. Massachusetts has 14 counties which were regional administrative districts before the Revolutionary War. Over time the counties administered jails, health facilities, agricultural schools, registries of deeds and probate,  county courthouses, county roads, and extension services. The counties were funded by local communities and the Commonwealth.
  11. The cities of Massachusetts are governed by MAYORS and CITY COUNCILS, but towns are usually governed by groups of officials called SELECTMEN. A Board of Selectmen is usually elected for a one-or-two-year term, and town meetings, a tradition from Colonial times, are still held regularly.
  12. To vote, you must be a citizen of the United States, at least 18 years old, and you must have been registered to vote in Massachusetts 20 days before the election. Massachusetts residents may pre-register to vote if they are 16 or 17 years old. Pre-registrants become registered voters when they turn 18.

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Massachusetts Facts — History

  1. Excavations in Massachusetts reveal that the earliest human inhabitants arrived about 3,000 years ago.
  2. In 1629, a royal charter was granted to the Massachusetts Bay Company to promote the settlement of the territory and to govern the colonies.
  3.  Various forms of increasingly repressive British rule culminated in the first battle of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775, at Lexington and Concord.
  4. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts became the sixth state to join the new independent union in 1788. 
  5.  Massachusetts was the first state to write and adopt a constitution (1780), which served as a model for the U.S. Constitution. 
  6. The Massachusetts Constitution is the oldest still in use in the world.
  7. In 1620, the Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom, made a brief stop in what later became Provincetown before settling in Plymouth on land belonging to Wampanoag Chief Massasoit.
  8. Massasoit ratified the first New England treaty between Europeans and Native Americans in December of 1620.
  9. Massachusetts was named after the natives who lived in the area, the “Massachusett”. The tribe’s name means “near the great hill,” which refers to the Blue Hills southwest of Boston.
  10. The first phone call in history was made in Boston on March 10, 1876. The inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, called his assistant Thomas Watson in the next room and said, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.”
  11. In 1891 The first basketball game was played in Springfield. 
  12. Megan Brennan, the first woman in history to hold the job, as a result, earns more than the salary of the vice-president of the United States ($243,500).
  13.  The first post office in America opened in Boston in 1639.
  14. Before 1685 there were two separate colonies within the boundaries of present-day Massachusetts. The area around Plymouth and Cape Cod, settled by the Pilgrims, was known as the Plymouth colony, or the Old Colony. 
  15. Repeated expeditions against the Native Americans were common in the 18th century, as Massachusetts men joined with British troops to fight the French and their Indian allies.
  16. Commercial and industrial expansion marked 18th-century Massachusetts and resulted in the rapid settlement of new communities, many spurred by speculation. Between 1692 and 1765, 111 new towns and districts were incorporated, while the population increased to 222,563.
  17. Boston Latin School, a public secondary school in Massachusetts, is the oldest existing school in the United States.
  18. In 1639 The first free American public school, the Mather School, was founded in Dorchester.

Massachusetts Facts — Geography

  1. Massachusetts is the 7th smallest state in the United States with an area of 10,555 square miles (27,340 km2).
  2. It is bordered to the north by New Hampshire and Vermont, to the west by New York, to the south by Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the east by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Maine. Massachusetts is the most populous New England state.
  3. Massachusetts is nicknamed “The Bay State” because of several large bays, which distinctly shape its coast: Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay, to the east; Buzzards Bay, to the south; and several cities and towns on the Massachusetts–Rhode Island border sit adjacent to Mount Hope Bay.
  4. At the southeastern corner of Massachusetts is a large, sandy, arm-shaped peninsula, Cape Cod, which forms the southern boundary of the Gulf of Maine to the north.
  5. Central Massachusetts features rolling, rocky hills, while Western Massachusetts encompasses a fertile valley and mountains surrounding the Connecticut River, as well as the Berkshire Mountains.
  6. Boston is Massachusetts’ largest city, at the inmost point of Massachusetts Bay, the mouth of the Charles River. 
  7. Most Bay Staters live in the Boston area, which covers most of eastern Massachusetts.
  8. Eastern Massachusetts is fairly densely populated and mostly suburban. Western Massachusetts features both the Connecticut River Valley—a fairly even mix of urban enclaves (e.g. Springfield, Northampton), and rural college towns (Amherst, South Hadley)—and the Berkshire Mountains, (a branch of the Appalachian Mountains) that remains mostly rural.
  9. Massachusetts has 351 cities and towns. Every part of the state is within an incorporated city or town, but many towns include large rural areas. The state’s 14 counties have few government functions and serve as little more than judicial districts.

Massachusetts Facts — Animals and Plants

  1. Massachusetts has preserved many of its forests, and there are now nearly 150 state forests, reservations, and parks.
  2. Not far from downtown Boston is the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, which opened to the public in 1872 and has one of the largest collections of trees and shrubs in the United States.
  3. Few large animals remain in the wild, but an occasional bear or moose is sighted. 
  4. Other animals seen in the woods include deer, beavers, muskrats, minks, otters, snowshoe hares, red foxes, woodchucks, raccoons, and chipmunks.
  5. Along with the shores sandpipers, blue herons, American egrets, sanderlings, and turnstones can be seen.
  6. Waterbirds include gulls, scooters, cormorants, and loons; those most often seen on land are kingfishers, warblers, bobwhites, brown thrashers, sparrow hawks, yellow-shafted flickers, and whippoorwills. Game birds include ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, and pheasant.
  7. The seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony of 1629 showed Indian and pine trees, and both these symbols have continued to be used up to the present time.
  8. The state of Massachusetts is represented by several official wildlife symbols. The official insect is the two-spotted lady beetle, a very common bug with a blackhead, red body, and two black spots. 

Massachusetts Facts — Demographics

  1. For every square mile of land in Massachusetts, there is an average of 839.4 people.
  2. Boston is Massachusetts’s largest city, with a population of 684,379 people.
  3. The median age in Massachusetts is 39.5 years of age, with a slight gender gap of 51.5% females and 48.5% males in the State.
  4. The latest figures show that 67.6% of the Massachusetts population was white in 2020, down from 76.1% in 2010 when the last census was completed.
  5. Asians accounted for 7.2% of the population in 2020, while Black residents accounted for just under 7% of residents last year.
  6. The state’s economy is strong, thanks in large part to its booming high-tech industry, educated population, and staple sectors such as agriculture, trade, and fishing. This diversity of industries makes Massachusetts an excellent place to live for just about anyone.
  7. Massachusetts ranks 15th among the most densely populated states in America. 
  8.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the top-ranked institute in the world.
  9. Massachusetts has more than 1,500 miles of coastline that includes a variety of beaches, shoreside parks, ports and harbors, and salt marshes.

Massachusetts Facts— Culture and Sports

Here is how you speak Boston. Image: Massachusetts Memes
  1. The blending of an Old World heritage and a New World spirit produced a bountiful cultural environment in Massachusetts.
  2. As scholar Perry Miller wrote in The New England Mind (1939), “Puritanism was one of the major expressions of Western intellect” and was “an important part of the whole thought of the seventeenth century.” 
  3. Athletics have come to form a subculture among all social classes. 
  4. The professional teams—Boston’s Red Sox in baseball, Bruins in ice hockey, and Celtics in basketball and the New England Patriots, based southeast of Boston, in gridiron football—attract the most attention, but the state also gives considerable emphasis to high-school and college athletics.
  5. The prestigious Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual footrace, has been held since 1897 and attracts participants from all over the world.
  6. Historical sites in Boston draw many tourists. The Freedom Trail provides a trip that includes Boston Common, the old and new (1713 and 1798) statehouses, Park Street Church, the Old Granary Burying Ground, the Old Corner Bookstore, Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House, the Old North Church, and the USS Constitution, better known as Old Ironsides.
  7. West of Boston lies Concord with its Old Manse, home of the Emersons and, for four years, of the Hawthornes.
  8. Massachusetts teams have won 6 Stanley Cups (Boston Bruins), 17 NBA Championships (Boston Celtics), 6 Super Bowls (New England Patriots), and 10 World Series (9 Boston Red Sox, 1 Boston Braves). Early basketball and volleyball were created in Massachusetts, which houses the Basketball Hall of Fame (Springfield), and the Volleyball Hall of Fame (Holyoke).
  9. Massachusetts has played host to nine U.S. Opens, four U.S. Women’s Opens, two Ryder Cups, and one U.S. Senior Open.
  10. There are several NCAA Division I members in the state for multiple sports: Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University, Harvard University, College of the Holy Cross, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Famous People from Massachusetts

  • Steve Carell was born at Emerson Hospital in Concord and raised in Acton, Massachusetts.
Image: Boston Globe
  • The actress Amy Poehler was born in Newton to two high school teachers.
Image: Glamour
  • Bette Davis played more than 100 roles and won two Academy Awards. During her early years, she attended a boarding school in Lanesborough, Massachusetts.
Image: Encyclopedia Britannica
  • John Krasinski was born in Newton.
Image: Fandom
  • Conan O’Brien is a Brookline, Massachusetts native. 
Image: TechCrunch

Massachusetts Facts — Economy

  1. The state of Massachusetts has a population of 6,892,503 and annual population growth of 0.4% over the five years to 2019 which ranks 25 out of all 50 US states.
  2. Massachusetts’s gross state product (GSP) in 2019 reached $518.7bn, with a growth of 2.7% over the 5-years to 2019.
  3. Businesses in Massachusetts employed a total of 24.2 million in 2018, with average annual employment growth of 2.6%.
  4. The top three employment sectors include Health care and social assistance, retail trade, and Professional, scientific, and technical services while the unemployment rate across the state in March 2020 was 5.3%.
  5. Massachusetts’s GSP in 2019 reached $518.7bn, with a growth of 2.7% over the five years to 2019.
  6. Massachusetts’s GSP growth ranks 13 out of all 50 US states. 
  7. In Massachusetts, non-residential construction was $11.4 billion in 2019 which ranks it 16 out of all US states.

Common Misconceptions About Massachusetts State

EVERY MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENT IS A RED SOX FAN

Wrong. I mean, most of us are; however, Massholes like The Yankees as well, they just might not tell anyone. It’s more often than not that NYY fans more or less live in the Western part of the state. I never felt that The Yankees “suck”. Even as a lifelong Sox fan, I loved Jeter and Sheffield.

WE LOVE A GOOD ROTARY, OR ROUNDABOUT

Let me preface by saying Massachusetts does have more rotaries than any other New England state or U.S. state for that matter, but we certainly don’t feel any certain way about them. Pittsfield even removed theirs in Park Square more than a decade ago.

WE ARE OBSESSED WITH MATT DAMON AND BEN AFFLECK

The Cambridge brothers burst on the scene in 1997 with “Good Will Hunting” and Boston, MA was proud! I love these two guys; however, even Affleck knows he’s made some crappy movies…but, “The Town” makes up for all of that! Plenty of Mass. residents are not madly in love with these two, however.

Weird Laws in Massachusetts 

Read the Craziest Laws in the United States, if you want more.

  1. At a wake, mourners may eat no more than three sandwiches.
  2.  Boston: It is illegal to play the fiddle.
  3.  Holyoke, Massachusetts, makes it unlawful to water your lawn when it is raining.
  4.  In Boston, Massachusetts it is illegal to take a bath unless instructed to do so by a physician.
  5. In Massachusetts, it is unlawful to deliver diapers on Sunday, regardless of emergencies.
  6. In Massachusetts, you must have a license to wear a goatee.
  7. In Massachusetts, if you get caught eating peanuts in church, you can be jailed for up to one year.
  8. In Provincetown, Mass., it’s illegal to sell suntan oil until afternoon on Sunday.
  9. It is illegal to frighten a pigeon.
  10. It is illegal to put tomatoes in clam chowder.

Final Thought

As you can see, Massachusetts is a great state with lots of great things to do. And, for our readers who are book haters, the people of Massachusetts approach their sports with the same level of intensity as they do their education. The Bay State is home to legendary sports teams like the Boston Celtics, the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Bruins, and the New England Patriots. In other words, no matter the season, you will always have a team to cheer on. 

And, finally, this goes without saying but… Massachusetts has some killer seafood. Whether you’re tearing into a buttery hot lobster roll or spooning down a bowl of creamy clam chowder, you will be in seafood heaven in Massachusetts.  

Massachusetts Facts And Stats

CapitalBoston
Population6.893 million (2019)
GovernorCharlie Baker (Republican Party)
Date Of AdmissionFebruary 6, 1788
U.S. SenatorsEd Markey (D)
Elizabeth Warren (D)
US House of Representatives1 (of 435 Seats) 
State NicknameBay State, Codish State
State MottoBy the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.
State Song“(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts”
State FlowerThe Mayflower
State FishAtlantic cod
State BirdBlack-capped Chickadee.
State TreeAmerican elm
State MammalAmerican black bear
State DrinkThe Cape Codder!
State MineralIron, Lead, and Copper 
State GemRhodonite
State FossilDinosaur tracks
Neighbor StatesNew Hampshire Vermont New York

Frequently Asked Questions About The Bay state

What are the 5 interesting things about Massachusetts ?

  1. The first subway system was built in Boston.
  2. Fig Newton? Yep, that was named after Newton, Massachusetts.
  3.  The first zip code ever is in Massachusetts. Shout out to 01001!
  4. Our official state cat is the Tabby cat.
  5. The first public park to ever exist was Boston Commons.

What is Massachusetts known for?

  1. Railroad and Subway
  2. Colleges and Universities
  3. Oldest Constitution
  4. Legalizing Gay Marriages 
  5. Well Known Political Figures
  6. The landing place of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims.
  7. Stunning fall foliage.
  8. Colonial landmarks.
  9. The nation’s first library
  10. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket

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References

  1. https://www.britannica.com/place/Massachusetts/History
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sports_in_Massachusetts
  3. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/MA,DE,NC/POP060210
  4. https://a-z-animals.com/animals/location/north-america/united-states/massachusetts/#

 

 

 


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Sabrina is a former campaign manager who has decided to focus her effort to help people contact senators and get help. She leads our Editorial Team with Ronald and Lawrence to curate content and resources that help us navigate the system.

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