Massachusetts , officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is a state in the New England region of the northeasternUnited States. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south,New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. Massachusetts is the 7th smallest, but the 14th most populous and the 3rd most densely populated of the 50 United States. Massachusetts features two separate metropolitan areas: Greater Boston in the east and the Springfield metropolitan area in the west. Approximately two-thirds of Massachusetts' population lives in Greater Boston. Generally the Greater Boston boundary is regarded as the Atlantic Ocean to the east and areas just north, west, and south of Interstate 495 to the west, north, and south. Western Massachusetts features one urban area - the Knowledge Corridor along the Connecticut River - and a mix of college towns and rural areas. Many of Massachusetts' towns, cities, and counties have names identical to ones in England. Massachusetts is the most populous of the sixNew England states and has the nation's sixth highest GDP per capita.
Massachusetts has played a significant historical, cultural, and commercial role in American history. Plymouth was the site of the colony founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the Mayflower. Harvard University, founded in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced one of America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem witch trials. In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept the Atlantic world, originated from the pulpit of Northampton, Massachusetts preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution and the independence of the United States from Great Britain. In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which during the Industrial Revolutioncatalyzed numerous important technological advances, includinginterchangeable parts. In 1786, Shays' Rebellion, a populist revolt led by disaffected Revolutionary War veterans, led directly to the United States Constitutional Convention.
Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for thetemperance, transcendentalist, and abolitionist movements. In 1837, Mount Holyoke College, the United States' first college for women, was opened in theConnecticut River Valley town of South Hadley. In the late 19th century, the (now) Olympic sports of basketball and volleyball were invented in the Western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision of the state's Supreme Judicial Court. Massachusetts has contributed many prominent politicians to national service, including members of the Adams family and the Kennedy family.
Originally dependent on fishing, agriculture, and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts' economy shifted from manufacturing to services. In the 21st century, Massachusetts is a leader in higher education, health care technology, high technology, and financial services.
Massachusetts is the 7th smallest state in the United States. It is located in the New England region of the northeastern United States, and has an area of 10,555 square miles (27,340 km2). Several large bays distinctly shape its coast. Boston is the largest city, at the inmost point of Massachusetts Bay, and the mouth of theCharles River.
Despite its small size, Massachusetts features numerous distinctive regions: in the west, the rolling Berkshire Mountains surround the fertile Connecticut River Valley(the latter of which contains metropolitan Springfield); in central Massachusetts, rural hill-towns surround Worcester; while the east encompasses the urban environs ofGreater Boston, the sandy beaches of Cape Cod, and the rocky shorelines of the northern coast.
The National Park Service administers a number of natural and historical sites in Massachusetts. Along with twelve national historic sites, areas, and corridors, the National Park Service also manages the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation maintains a number of parks, trails, and beaches throughout Massachusetts
Massachusetts has contributed much to American arts and culture. Drawing from its Native American and Yankee roots, along with later immigrant groups, Massachusetts has produced a number of writers, artists, and musicians. A number of major museums and important historical sites are also located there, and events and festivals throughout the year celebrate the state's history and heritage.
Massachusetts was an early center of the Transcendentalist movement, which emphasized intuition, emotion, human individuality and a deeper connection with nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was from Boston but spent much of his later life in Concord, largely created the philosophy with his 1836 work Nature, and continued to be a key figure in the movement for the remainder of his life. Emerson's friend, Henry David Thoreau, who was also involved in Transcendentalism, recorded his year spent alone in a small cabin at nearby Walden Pond in the 1854 work Walden; or, Life in the Woods.
Other famous authors and poets born or strongly associated with Massachusetts include Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Updike,Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, E.E. Cummings, Sylvia Plath, and Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as "Dr. Seuss". Famous painters from Massachusetts include Winslow Homer and Norman Rockwell; many of the latter's works are on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.
Massachusetts is also an important center for the performing arts. Both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops Orchestra are based in Massachusetts. Other orchestras in Massachusetts include the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra inBarnstable and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. Tanglewood, in western Massachusetts, is a music venue that is home to both the Tanglewood Music Festival and Tanglewood Jazz Festival, as well as the summer host for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Jacob's Pillow in the Berkshires hosts a number of traditional and contemporary musical and dance events.
Other performing arts and theater organizations in Massachusetts include theBoston Ballet, the Boston Lyric Opera, and the Lenox-based Shakespeare & Company. In addition to classical and folk music, Massachusetts has produced musicians and bands spanning a number of contemporary genres, such as the classic rock band Aerosmith, the proto-punk band The Modern Lovers, the new waveband The Cars, and the alternative rock band Pixies. Film events in the state include the Boston Film Festival, theBoston International Film Festival, and a number of smaller film festivals in various cities throughout Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is home to a large number of museums and historical sites. TheBoston Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the DeCordovacontemporary art and sculpture museum in Lincoln are all located within Massachusetts, and the Maria Mitchell Association in Nantucket includes several observatories, museums, and an aquarium. Historically themed museums and sites such as the Springfield Armory National Historic Site inSpringfield, Boston's Freedom Trail and nearby Minute Man National Historical Park, both of which preserve a number of sites important during the American Revolution, the Lowell National Historical Park, which focuses on some of the earliest mills and canals of the industrial revolution in the US, the Black Heritage Trail in Boston, which includes important African-American and abolitionist sites in Boston, and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park all showcase various periods of Massachusetts's history.
Plimoth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village are two open-air or "living" museums in Massachusetts, recreating life as it was in the 17th and early 19th centuries, respectively. Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day parade and "Harborfest", a week-long Fourth of July celebration featuring a fireworks display and concert by the Boston Pops as well as a turnaround cruise in Boston Harbor by the USS Constitution, are popular events. The New England Summer Nationals, an auto showin Worcester, draws tens of thousands of attendees every year