Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Pittsfield

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PITTSFIELD, a borough and township of the United States, the shire town of Berkshire county, Massachusetts, lies at a height of from 1000 to 1200 feet above the sea on a plain between the Hoosacs on the east and the Taconics on the west. It is traversed by the headwaters of the Housatonic and Hoosac rivers, and derives its supply of drinking water from Lake Ashley, a romantic loch on the top of the Washington Hills, 7 miles to the south-east. As the northern terminus of the Housatonic Railroad, and a junction on the Boston and Albany and the Pittsfield and North Adams Railroads, it is an important centre of traffic. Most of the dwelling houses are built of wood. Among the public edifices are a court-house, in white marble; the Berkshire Athenæum, with a free library and reading-room; the Roman Catholic church of St Joseph, in marble; the Methodist church, a spacious edifice of brick; the First Congregational church (rebuilt in 1853), for thirty years under the charge of Rev. John Todd, author of the Student's Manual; and the Maplewood Institute for young ladies. The Berkshire Medical Institute (1822) ceased to exist in 1869. There is a small park with a fine soldiers' monument (1872) in the heart of the town, as well as a larger park with a race-course in the eastern suburb. Cotton and woollen goods, silk, knit goods, shoes, and tacks are among the local manufactures. The population in 1860 was 8045; in 1870, 11,132; in 1880, 13,364. Pittsfield, which once formed part of the Indian domain of Pontoosuc, and for a time was known as Boston Plantation, was incorporated in 1761, and received its present name in honour of the earl of Chatham. Oliver W. Holmes long resided on a small farm two miles south of Pittsfield.