89 Interesting Facts About Massachusetts

Last updated on October 20th, 2023

Massachusetts is the 16th most populous and the 44th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in the New England region of the northeastern United States. The state attained statehood on February 6, 1788, becoming the 6th state to join the union. Its five bordering states are Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and VermontMassachusetts (nicknamed Bay State, Colony State, Old Colony, Taxachusetts, The Spirit of America) has 14 counties. The state’s capital is Boston. The postal abbreviation for Massachusetts is MA. With these facts about Massachusetts, let us learn more about its history, geography, economy, people, culture, and more.

Facts about Massachusetts

1. The state was named by an English explorer and colonist, John Smith, after the Massachusett tribe, whose name meant “near the great hill.”

2. The state was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States of America.

3. Boston, the state’s most populous city, has been the capital of Massachusetts since its founding.


4. An interesting fact about the first Zip code given to Massachusetts 01001 is that it is thought to be the first. This is the zip code for Agawam.

5. Did you know that the first post office in America opened in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1639?

6. Did you know that the postmaster general gets a base salary of $276,840 which is more than the salary of the vice-president of the U.S.? Megan Brennan, the first woman in history to hold the job, as a result, earns more than the salary of the vice president of the United States ($243,500). Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general of the United States of America.

Image from page 23 of "The Bell System technical journal" (1922).
Image from page 23 of “The Bell System Technical Journal” (1922).

7. On March 10, 1876, it was here in Boston that the first telephone call was made when Alexander Graham Bell summoned his lab assistant, Thomas A. Watson. On the phone, he said, “Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you.” Watson was in the next room where he heard the message from the receiver. In a letter to his father, he wrote: “The day is coming when telegraph wires will be laid on to houses just like water or gas — and friends will converse with each other without leaving home.”

House where the world's first telephone was installed.
Charles Williams Jr. House, where the world’s first telephone was installed.

8. The Charles Williams, Jr. House located on Arlington Street, Somerville, is the location of the first residential telephone line in the world. The phone inside the house connected to the owner’s office 3 miles away at 109 Court Street in Boston. These two properties had the first telephone numbers – 1 & 2 of the Bell Telephone Company.

9. According to a survey, Massachusetts is the most educated state in the country because the state has several high–ranking state colleges and universities.

Harvard University Historic Building
Massachusetts facts: Harvard University Historic Building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

10. The first college for higher education was Harvard University, founded in Massachusetts in 1636.

11. All the founders of Facebook were students at Harvard University. It was founded in 2004 and grew into the largest social network in the world.

12. The first public secondary school in the US was established in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 23, 1635. It was known as the Boston Latin School.

13. A Puritan settler, Philemon Pormont became the first schoolmaster of a public secondary school in 1635. He led the Boston Latin School, a boys-only public school.

14. The first-ever free public elementary school in America, the Mather School, was in Dorchester. It was a one-room school and was established in 1939.

15. Helen Magil White was the first woman to earn a PhD in the US. The degree was granted to her by Boston University in 1877.

16. Cambridge University ranked more than once in the top five colleges in the world. In 2023, it ranked as high as number three in the world.

An illustrative image of a subway station.
An illustrative image of a subway station.

17. Did you know that the first subway in America was built in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1897? Known as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway, it currently runs 78 miles long and has over 130 stations in the metro area. Thanks in large part to the robust subway system in the city. Boston has more pedestrian commuters than any other major city in the United States.

18. In 1826, Massachusetts became home to the first railroad in the U.S.

19. The Witch House in Salem is one of only a few old buildings still standing. It is rumored to be haunted by witches who were tried here many years ago.

20. The Big Dig project was the most expensive highway construction in the US. The rerouting of the I93 started in 1987.

21. The Ted Williams Tunnel interface in East Boston between the land-based approach and the underwater section is 90 feet below the surface of Boston Harbor, the deepest such connection in North America. Engineers were forced to make this tunnel so deep because of the depth of the Boston Harbor. They used the cut-and-cover method to construct it. The tunnel is a 1.6-mile long and dips to close to 100 feet below sea level. First opening for public use in 2003, it was one of the first major links constructed as part of the Big Dig. A toll is charged when entering the tunnel from either side.

The Boston Lighthouse
The Boston Lighthouse was built in 1715 and was destroyed during the American Revolution. By 1783 a new seventy-five-foot tower was lit. Today, the Boston Light can be seen shining twenty-four hours a day as a reminder of the American spirit. Image credit – Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

22. Did you know that the first lighthouse built in the United States was “Boston Light” located on Little Brewster Island in Boston, Massachusetts? It was built in 1716.

23. Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States of America. Officially opening in 1634, the 50 acres of land is a common gathering place throughout the year. Due to its history, it has been home to a British camp before the American Revolutionary War and a modern gathering place for speeches, protests, outdoor concerts, and more.

24. Massachusetts is the birth of the American Revolution, where the first resistance against British colonial rule emerged.

25. Did you know that James Naismith invented basketball in 1891 at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts? Naismith was a physical education teacher and wanted to engage his students in some physical activity while being indoors during the cold winter months. The game was played with a soccer ball and two peach baskets nailed to railings 10 feet above the floor. Michael JordanLeBron JamesKobe Bryant, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are some of the world-famous basketball players of all time.

26. Furthermore, the game of volleyball finds its roots in Massachusetts as well. The game of volleyball, originally called “mintonette,” was invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan.

Goodyear tyres.

27. It was here in Massachusetts that the process of Vulcanization was invented by Charles Goodyear in a factory in Woburn where he lived. He accidentally combined rubber and sulfur upon a hot stove. Much to Goodyear’s surprise, the rubber didn’t melt. And, when he raised the heat, it actually hardened.

A set of Tupperware bowls
A set of Tupperware bowls, in those fabulous harvest colors straight outta the 70s 🙂

28. TUPPERWARE™ was invented by Earl Tupper while he was experimenting with plastic. He molded the then-new material into containers and started marketing his products as giveaways with cigarettes.

29. Percy Spencer, an engineer from Waltham, accidentally discovered the technology that would lead to the Microwave. He was testing magnetrons in a vacuum tube that generated microwaves.

30. The state also gave birth to birth control pills. Dr. Gregory Pincus developed the pills in the 1959s in Clark University in Worcester.

31. A successful kidney transfer occurred in Boston at the Peter Brent Bingham Hospital in 1954. This was the first one done in the world.

32. Massachusetts revolutionized the frozen fruit industry. Clarence Birdseye, developed the first freezer to quick-freeze fish and other foods, including meat, vegetables, etc. Foods that were frozen quickly as opposed to slow freezing tasted better. Birdseye was issued US Patent #1,773, 079 that marked the beginning of the frozen food industry. A range of frozen foods were test marketed in Springfield, Massachusetts, and after a great response from the public, the company continued to sell their frozen food products, and the rest is history.

Chocolate Chip Cookies. Facts about Massachusetts
Chocolate Chip Cookies.

33. The chocolate chip cookie was invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband in 1930 in the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts.

34. Thanks to the high-tech industry in the ‘80s, a period known as the Massachusetts Miracle helped stabilize this state’s economy.

35. The steel factory with the most advanced iron manufacturing technology was established in 1646. It was the first in the world and was named the Saugus Ironworks.

Dunkin Donuts store front

36. Dunkin Donuts opened its first franchise restaurant in Dedham, Massachusetts, and sold 52 varieties of donuts. The popularity of the donuts grew so much that the company by the year 1963 had opened its 100th restaurant.

37. Boston, Massachusetts, is the headquarters of the world’s leading brand of safety razors “Gillette.”

38. Massachusetts was the first to have its own paper house. It was created with 250 layers of paper that were glued together with homemade glue.

39. Cambridge in the Massachusetts Bay Colony is where the first printing press in the US was set up. This happened on 25 September 1639 and operated for 150 years.

40. In 1794, the first ships for the US Navy were built in the Hartt shipyard in Boston. The construction of six ships was authorized, which became the US Navy.

41. A coastal community north of Boston known as Marblehead provided the first ship to be used by the US. The ship, known as Hannah, was owned by a Marblehead resident.

42. On March 16, 1926, Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fuel rocket. He successfully launched the rocket on a farm in Auburn.

43. Massachusetts and Missouri were the first states to require a driver’s license in 1903. The very first license plate issued by a state government (Number 1) was issued on September 1, 1903, to Frederick Tudor of Brookline.

44. Plymouth, located just south of modern-day Boston, was one of the first permanent English settlements in North America.

45. The Power of Sympathy is recognized as the first American novel ever to be published. The author was the 23-year-old William Hill Brown, who published it on 23 January 1789.

46. Did you know the first Thanksgiving was held in Massachusetts in the Plymouth Colony in 1621?

47. Massachusetts, KentuckyVirginia, and Pennsylvania are the four US states whose legal names include the term Commonwealth. However, these states function just like the other 46 states.

48. There is a lake in Massachusetts named “Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.” 

49. Did you know that Boston Harbor is one of the most important docks in the US? Its location makes it an ideal port for ships traveling the Atlantic Ocean.

50. To protest the British tea tax, many Bostonians dumped tea from three British ships into the sea. The event happened on Boston harbor and was since then widely known as the Boston Tea Party.

51. Finding the Massachusetts state marine mammal will be easy; it is none other than the slow swimming Right Whale. Just head down to the beach and look for it.

52. Did you know that a beach near Boston is popularly called “Singing Beach?” Do not get too carried away with the fact. The sound comes when a visitor shuffles their feet on its dry sand. 

53. The native turkey of Massachusetts was killed off by 1851 due to land loss. Fortunately, it was rectified in the “70s, and the population increased to thousands again.

54. One of the best whale-watching spots in the world can be found at Stellwagen Bank. It is located east of Boston between Cape Cod and Cape Ann.

55. The anthem: ‘All Hail Massachusetts,’ was first heard in the summer of 1954 at Nantasket Beach. Ten years later, it was selected as the state song.

56. The official polka song for this state is: Say Hello to Someone in Massachusetts. Leny Gomulka wrote it, and the song became official in 1998.

A young chestnut Morgan Horse mare
A young chestnut Morgan Horse mare runs free and uninhibited, strutting her stuff.

57. The official state animal of Massachusetts is the Morgan horse. The domesticated horse breed is the first of its kind and originated in West Springfield.

58. The Tabby cat is the official cat for the state of Massachusetts. It is not an official breed but simply refers to this cat’s striped coat.

59. A strange assembly of rocking horses can be seen if you exit Lincoln. It started with just one and mysteriously grew as the years passed.

60. In 2003, by court orders, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage. Connecticut followed suit, but in 2008.

61. Massachusetts has one of the lowest divorce rates among the US states. Nevada has the highest divorce rate of any state.

62. It is found that Massachusetts is the state with the most leisure hours in a working day. It was ranked as the number one state for the least hard-working.

63. As of 1st January 2019, Massachusetts’s minimum wage per hour is $12.

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