Information and Historical Data on Cities, Towns and Counties in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

A Listing of Cities and Towns, the Counties they are in with the Dates of Settlement, Incorporation as a Town and, if applicable, as a City

A Listing of Counties and the Cities and Towns Within

Dates Relating to the Incorporation of and Abolishment of Counties in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Village, Section and Neighborhood names of Massachusetts Communities

There are 14 Counties, with 39 cities and 312 towns.

There are fourteen communities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government, though they wish to be known as “The Town of”. They are: AGAWAM, AMHERST, BARNSTABLE, BRAINTREE, BRIDGEWATER, FRANKLIN, GREENFIELD, PALMER, RANDOLPH, SOUTHBRIDGE, WATERTOWN, WEST SPRINGFIELD, WEYMOUTH and WINTHROP.¬†There are four communities that have been granted the title of city though they do not have wards or precincts, they are: AMESBURY, EASTHAMPTON, METHUEN and FRAMINGHAM.

Oldest, Newest, Largest and Smallest Communities:

  • Geographic center of Massachusetts is the Town of Rutland in Worcester County.

  • Oldest town: Plymouth incorporated 1620

  • Oldest city: BOSTON incorporated 1822

  • Newest town: East Brookfield incorporated 1920

  • Newest city: GARDNER incorporated 1923

  • Smallest by population: Town of Gosnold, 75 / City of NORTH ADAMS, 13,708

  • Smallest by square miles: Town of Nahant, 1.24 / City of CHELSEA, 1.86

  • Largest by population: Town of Brookline, 58,732 / City of BOSTON, 617,594

  • Largest by square miles: Town of Plymouth, 97.57 / City of TAUNTON, 47.29

(Population figures are based on the 2010 Census)

How did Brookline and Cohasset become “islands” of Norfolk County?

When looking at the county boundaries, you may notice that the towns of Brookline and Cohasset lie outside and are not contiguous to the rest of their county. The second Norfolk County was organized in 1793 from parts of southern Suffolk County and the towns of Brookline+, Cohasset, Hingham and Hull as well as the approximate area of towns that now comprise Norfolk County. In 1803 the towns of Hingham and Hull opted out of Norfolk and became part of Plymouth County, thus cutting off Cohasset.

+ In 1795, Brookline petitioned the Supreme Judicial Court to “change its allegiance” back to Suffolk County, the court however, ignored the petition.

An historical note on county government in New England

Generally speaking, New England states do not have as active a county government system as compared to the rest of the nation. In Massachusetts for example, state roads (usually numbered routes) are cared for by the state highway department (MassHighway), while individual communities care for non-state roads within their borders. This can cause some confusion for folks who move here from other parts of the nation as the opposite appears true in their former home state.

Anomalies of note: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467

There are many neighborhood or area names that may cross local borders of one kind or another but, Chestnut Hill goes a little further than most. It is comprised of parts of the City of Boston, the City of Newton, and the Town of Brookline, as well as being comprise of the counties Suffolk, Middlesex, and Norfolk.