As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 77,478, and was the most densely populated municipality in New England, and the most dense in the United States outside the New York - New Jersey metropolitan area. It was established as a town in 1842, when it was separated from the urbanizing Charlestown.
Somerville has a mix of blue collar Irish-American, Italian American and to a slightly lesser extent Portuguese American families who are spread throughout the city; immigrant families from Brazil, Haiti and El Salvador, who live in East Somerville; South Korea and India in the Union Square area, and college students and young professionals, many of whom live in sections near Cambridge, or near Tufts University, which straddles the Somerville-Medford city line, although the university's formal address is Medford.
With only slightly over 4 square miles (10 km²) of land, Somerville is the most densely populated city in New England and the fifth densest municipality under 100,000 in the United States after Guttenberg, NJ, Union City, NJ, West New York, NJ and Hoboken, NJ according to the 2000 Demographics of the United States.
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 77,478 people, 31,555 households, and 14,673 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,278.4/km² (18,868.1/mi²). There were 32,477 housing units at an average density of 3,051.0/km² (7,909.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 76.97% White, 6.50% African American, 0.22% Native American, 6.44% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 4.96% from other races, and 4.85% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.76% of the population.
There were 31,555 households out of which 18.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.2% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 53.5% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the city the population was spread out with 14.8% under the age of 18, 15.9% from 18 to 24, 42.6% from 25 to 44, 16.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $46,315, and the median income for a family was $51,243. Males had a median income of $36,333 versus $31,418 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,628. About 8.4% of families and 12.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.3% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.
Though formally listed as being located in Medford, Tufts University is also located in Somerville. The Somerville-Medford line actually runs through Tufts' campus. The school employs many local residents and has many community service projects that serve the city, especially those run through the Leonard Carmichael Society and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, the latter of which especially emphasizes public service in Tufts' host communities.
Somerville is home to a thriving arts community. Regular arts-related events, such as the annual "ArtBeat" festival, occur throughout the year. In addition, numerous galleries and music clubs showcase the talents of residents and others.
Davis Square is home to a lively coffeehouse scene with several coffeehouses each boasting its own fiercely loyal clientele. It is also known for its mom-and-pop shops, vintage stores, and other independent retailers.
The volunteer-operated Somerville Museum preserves memorabilia chronicling Somerville's roots, with historical and artistic exhibits. It is located on 1 Westwood Road, on the corner with Central Street.