North Adams, Massachusetts

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North Adams is a city in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 14,681 at the 2000 census, making it the least populous city in the state. Best known as the home of the largest contemporary art museum in the United States, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams has in recent years become a center for tourism, culture and recreation.



North Adams was first settled in 1737 and, separating from Adams, was officially incorporated in 1878. The city is named in honor of Samuel Adams, a leader in the American Revolution, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and governor of Massachusetts.

For much of its existence, North Adams was a mill town. Manufacturing began in the city before the Revolutionary War, as its location at the confluence of the two branches of the Hoosic River provided water power for diverse, small-scale industries. By the late 18th and early 19th centuries, businesses included wholesale shoe manufacturers; a brick yard; a saw mill; cabinet-makers; hat manufacturers; machine shops for the construction of mill machines; marble works; wagon and sleigh-makers; and an ironworks, which provided the pig iron for armor plates on the Civil War ship, the Monitor. North Adams would be headquarters for construction of the Hoosac Tunnel.

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