Hampden County, Massachusetts

Hampden County is a non-governmental county located in the Pioneer Valley of the state of Massachusetts, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, Hampden County's population was 463,490.[1] As of 2019, Hampden County's estimated population was 466,372.[2] Its traditional county seat is Springfield,[3] the Connecticut River Valley's largest city, and economic and cultural capital; with an estimated population of 154,758, approximately 1 in 3 residents of Hampden County live in Springfield. Hampden County was split from Hampshire County in 1812, because Northampton, Massachusetts, was made Hampshire County's "shire town" in 1794; however, Springfield—theretofore Hampshire County's traditional shire town, dating back to its founding in 1636—grew at a pace far quicker than Northampton and was granted shire town-status over its own, southerly jurisdiction. It was named for parliamentarian John Hampden.[4] To the north of Hampden County is modern-day Hampshire County; to the west is Berkshire County; to the east is Worcester County; to the south are Litchfield County, Hartford County, and Tolland County in Connecticut.

Hampden County is part of the Springfield, MA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is the most urban county in Western Massachusetts. The Knowledge Corridor surrounding Springfield-Hartford is New England's second most populous urban area (after Greater Boston) with 1.9 million people.

As with most Massachusetts counties, Hampden County exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government. All former county functions were assumed by state agencies in 1998. The sheriff and some other regional officials with specific duties are still elected locally to perform duties within the county region, but there is no county council, county commission or other county governing body. Communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services. Hampden County and Hampshire County together are part of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 634 square miles (1,640 km2), of which 617 square miles (1,600 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (2.7%) is water.[7]

The following are neighborhoods located in Springfield or West Springfield.

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 463,490 people, 179,927 households, and 115,961 families residing in the county.[12] The population density was 751.0 inhabitants per square mile (290.0/km2). There were 192,175 housing units at an average density of 311.4 per square mile (120.2/km2).[13] The racial makeup of the county was 76.5% white, 9.0% black or African American, 2.0% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 9.2% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 20.9% of the population.[12] The largest ancestry groups were:[14]

Of the 179,927 households, 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.9% were married couples living together, 17.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 35.6% were non-families, and 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.09. The median age was 38.6 years.[12]

The median income for a household in the county was $47,724 and the median income for a family was $61,061. Males had a median income of $50,207 versus $37,765 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,718. About 13.2% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.5% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.[15]

The ranking of unincorporated communities that are included on the list are reflective if the census designated locations and villages were included as cities or towns. Data is from the 2007–2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.[16][17][18]

Although no county government exists in Hampden County, a number of private associations, mainly representing trades remain identified with Hampden County. To maintain current training among municipal inspectors, in 2005 the nongovernmental Hampden County Plumbing & Gas Inspectors Association was formed.[19] The Hampden County Bar Association provides support and resources to the legal community and those seeking such representation.[20] In part a legacy of the Eastern States Exposition, the Hampden County Improvement League, and Hampden County Beekeepers Association, both provide agricultural education and outreach.[21][22] The Hampden County Radio Association, an affiliate of the ARRL, offers training in amateur radio and related technology.[23]

Hampden County Memorial Bridge over the Connecticut, connecting Springfield/West Springfield, c. 1945

Hampden County is served by both bus and rail service, with intermodal connections at Springfield Union Station, and Holyoke station via the Holyoke Transportation Center. Additionally the region is served by the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport, and Westover Metropolitan Airport. A bike share program, ValleyBike, connects Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke and West Springfield to points north in Hampshire County.