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slides: Massachusetts’ Best Communities 2014: #100-#1

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

 

What are the Top 100 communities in Massachusetts? GoLocalWorcester has the answer for 2014 as its 3rd annual Massachusetts' Best Communities 2014 counts down the best cities and towns from one end of the state to the other.

Check the slides, below, for the latest rankings.

To translate "great community" into a quantifiable assessment, we went to the data. With rankings created nationally by leading media sources like Kiplinger's and Money Magazine, we created our own set of criteria for what makes a community great. 

Our researchers spent hours poring over measures from public sources that help define a great place to live. We gathered and assessed housing prices, tax rates, median household incomes, crime statistics, and school performance on standardized tests in elementary, middle, and high schools. We counted places to go out and have fun, from bars and restaurants, to theaters, historic sites and museums, and golf courses. We even counted libraries. (For a full explanation of our methodology and sources, go here.)

Research by Abe Dube and Jack Andrade.

 

Related Slideshow: Massachusetts’ Best Communities 2014: #100-#1

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#100 Plainville

Plainville is a tight-knit, family-centric community in Norfolk County.  Open Town Meetings are the government of choice in Plainville, and recreation and community centers drive community activity.  Honey Dew Donuts is headquartered in Plainville.

Plainville by the numbers

Established: 1905
Population: 8,264
Median household income: $81,371
Median housing price: $260,050

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 100
Affordability ranking: 146
Education ranking: 100
Economic Condition ranking: 103
Safety ranking: 166
Arts & Culture ranking: 72 

Famous people

George Robert Twelves Hewes, Revolutionary War veteran and Boston Tea Party participant
Norm Feuti, cartoonist of the Gil and Retail comic strips
Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series
Jim Renner, PGA golfer
Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots linebacker
Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots kicker
Jabar Gaffney, former Patriots wide receiver
Katie Piper, two-time BET 'Diva of the Year'
John C. Reilly, actor

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#99 Walpole

Established in 1724 and named for British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole, the town emerged as a champion of the saw mill industry and the American Revolution.  Over the years, Walpole grew from a small colonial industrial town into one of Massachusetts' most well-rounded communities.  Walpole has many parks and atletic fields, and is also home to the Massachusetts Correctional Institute Cedar Point maximum security prison. Walpole's Little League team advanced to the Little League World Series in 2007 and got to play in front of over 5,000 fans and a national TV audience.

Walpole by the numbers

Established: 1724
Population: 24,070
Median household income: $90,763
Median housing price: $315,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 99
Affordability ranking: 197
Education ranking: 87
Economic Condition ranking: 101
Safety ranking: 134
Arts & Culture ranking: 109

Famous people

Andrew Bacevich, Former director of Boston University Center for International Relations, author of several books
Dayton Duncan, Filmmaker & Producer
Joseph N. Welch, special counsel to the United States Army during the Army-McCarthy Hearings. Also starred in "Anatomy of a Murder" as Judge Weaver
Gene Lavanchy, TV news anchor for FOX 25 in Boston
Joe Morgan, former Red Sox manager
Butch Songin, former quarterback for the Boston College Eagles football team, All-American defenseman for the BC ice hockey team.
Roger Turner, Olympic Figure Skater
Mike Milbury, Former Boston Bruins defenseman and current NHL analyst on NBC
Todd Collins, NFL quarterback
George Arthur Plimpton, publisher and philanthropist

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#98 Reading

Reading provides a small town atmosphere with close proximity (12 miles) to downtown Boston, so residents can get the best of both worlds.  This community has long been a leader on education, dating back to 1693 when the town first voted to fund pubic schools.  Famous residents include Celtics' great Bill Russell and Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford. 

Reading by the numbers

Established: 
Population: 24,747
Median household income: $99,131
Median housing price: $422,800

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 98
Affordability ranking: 260
Education ranking: 69
Economic Condition ranking: 100
Safety ranking: 40
Arts & Culture ranking: 167

Famous people

Brad Whitford, guitarist for Aerosmith, a member of the RMHS class of '70
Bill Russell, professional basketball player and coach
Thomas Parker, founder of Reading
Jess Brallier, award-winning publisher, best-selling author, and web publisher
Mark Erelli, folk musician
William M. Fowler, U.S. naval historian, professor at Northeastern University and former director of the Massachusetts Historical Society
Fred Foy, radio and television announcer for the Lone Ranger, Green Hornet, Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, and Dick Cavett shows
Lennie Merullo, MLB player and scout
John Doherty, Major League Baseball player
Moses Nichols, officer during the Revolutionary War
Eddie Peabody, banjo player

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#97 Attleboro

Re-incorporated as a city in 1914 after over 200 years as the town of Attleborough, Attleboro's community draws from its place in both the Boston and Providence, RI metropolitan areas.  Attleboro was known as "The Jewelry Capital of the World" in the early 20th century and continues to be a hub for jewelry manufacturing to this day.

Attleboro by the numbers

Established: 1914
Population: 43,593
Median household income: $65,298
Median housing price: $207,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 97
Affordability ranking: 153
Education ranking: 207
Economic Condition ranking: 99
Safety ranking: 220
Arts & Culture ranking: 46

Famous people

Roger Bowen, comedic actor most famous for his portrayal of Lt. Col. Henry Blake in M*A*S*H
George Bradburn,  politician known for his support for abolition and women’s rights
Geoff Cameron, professional soccer player who played on the U.S. national team in the 2014 World Cup.
Horace CapronUnion Army officer during the Civil War,  agricultural advisor to Japan- his methods revolutionized Japanese agriculture.
David Cobb, major general of the Continental Army, speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts
Paul G. Gaffney II, President, Monmouth University, US Navy Vice Admiral, former Chief of Naval Research, President of National Defense University
William Manchester (1922–2004), historian and biographer, author of The Death of a President
Jonathan Maxcy (1768–1820), Baptist clergyman and president of Brown University[38]
Daniel Read, composer
Ken Ryan, former pitcher for the Red Sox

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#96 Marion

A small, coastal town in Plymouth County, Marion is one of Massachusetts' most beautiful communities.  Residents enjoy beaches and recreational facilities in the community, while the local economy is centered around fishing and summer tourism to the area. Marion is also home to the prep school Tabor Academy.

Marion by the numbers

Established: 1852
Population: 4,907
Median household income: $87,793
Median housing price: $460,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 96
Affordability ranking: 307
Education ranking: 114
Economic Condition ranking: 102 
Safety ranking: 125
Arts & Culture ranking: 74 

Famous people

Former U.S. President Grover Cleveland
Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston, first lady to President Grover Cleveland
Fomer U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, summer resident
Dom DiMaggio, former Red Sox outfielder
James Spader, actor
Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the first man to fly over the North and South Poles

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#95 Upton

Settled in 1728, Upton was originally an agrarian society but, with a late 19th century industrialization, became home of the world's largest women's hat factory, Knowlton Hat Factory, in 1872. A century later, Aerosmith played their first gig at what was the Nipmuc Regional High School, today the Miscoe Hill Middle School. It is also home to Upton State Forest where people hike, walk dogs, and ride horses, other parks, and a variety of stores and restaurants.  

Upton by the numbers
Established: 1735
Population: 7542
Median household income: $110,083
Median housing price: $353,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 95
Affordability ranking: 154
Education ranking: 58
Economic condition ranking: 95
Safety ranking: 74
Arts & Culture ranking: 161
 
Famous residents  
Guylan Qudsieh, CBS reality show (Kid Nation) participant

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#94 Holliston

At one time, Holliston was known as an agricultural and industrial community, but in present times has developed into a technological economy while still maintaining a small-town community.  Among the community attractions is the famous "Balancing Rock" that many have tried and failed to push off its pedestal over the centuries.

Holliston by the numbers

Established: 1724
Population: 13,547
Median household income: $107,374
Median housing price: $281,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 94
Affordability ranking: 78
Education ranking: 47
Economic Condition ranking: 97
Safety ranking: 51
Arts & Culture ranking: 156

Famous people

Kevin Systrom, Founder of Instagram
Jeff Taylor, Founder of Monster.com
Adam Green, Director, writer, and actor
Michael Mantenuto, actor
Mike Grier, NHL hockey player
Greg Mauldin, NHL hockey player, played college hockey at UMass
Ken Stone, UFC bantamweight fighter
Mark Sweeney, MLB baseball player
Kara Wolters, Professional basketball player, NCAA champion at UConn, and Olympic gold medal winner
Andrew Natsios, Former director of the United States Agency for International Development
John Sencio, national television personality, motivational speaker 

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#93 Sterling

Originally a part of Lancaster, Sterling is a farming community located in the beautiful foothills of Mount Wachusett. It is also the home of Mary Sawyer from Sarah Josepha Hale's poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and the Town Common has a statue of a lamb. The Sterling Town Fair, held the weekend after Labor Day, attracts people each year from all over the state for exhibits, animal pulls, guest speakers, rides and games.

Sterling by the numbers

Established: 1781
Population: 7,808
Median household income: $102,270
Median housing price: $327,250

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 94
Affordability ranking: 155
Education ranking: 49
Economic Condition ranking: 127
Safety ranking: 105
Arts & Culture ranking: 157

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#92 Lancaster

As the oldest town in all of Worcester County, Lancaster has a deeply rooted and rich history. There are old houses scattered throughout the town and a historic church on the Town Green. With historic sites, apple orchards, beautiful ponds and parks, there is something for every adventure seeker in Lancaster. Located just off of Route 2, near Route 495, the town continues to  experience significant development from large parcels of available undeveloped land.

Lancaster by the numbers
Established: 1653
Population: 10,970
Median household income: $87,692
Median housing price: $280,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 93
Affordability ranking: 174
Education ranking: 56
Economic Condition ranking: 243
Safety ranking: 80
Arts & Culture ranking: 103

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#91 Southborough

Southborough incorporates the smaller villages of Cordaville, Fayville, and Southville. Known as the home of top private schools St. Mark's and the Fay schools, Southborough also has a strong public education system. The Sudbury Reservoir, which occupies a quarter of the town, enhances the image of a town that was at once a farming community. On Columbus Day, the community celebrates Heritage Day with a parade anchored by youth organizations, the Algonquin Regional High School marching band, and police and fire vehicles. At the end of the parade, vendors and local organizations set up booths with refreshments, food, and crafts. 

Southborough by the numbers
Established: 1727
Population: 9767
Median household income: $142,520
Median housing price: $453,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall Ranking: 92
Affordability ranking: 132
Education ranking: 105
Economic condition ranking: 19
Safety ranking: 30
Arts & Culture ranking: 113
 
Famous people
Warner Oland, Actor
Luis Tiant, Former Red Sox pitcher
Michael Weishan, Former PBS host
Mike Port, Former Red Sox third baseman

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#90 Medfield

A safe, small town community with a traditionally strong education system, Medfield has been home to a slew of local professional athletes that moved to the area. Among the dozens of historical attractions in Medfield are the Peak House, Lowell Mason Museum, and the Medfield Historical Society.

Medfield the numbers

Established: 1651
Population: 12,024
Median household income: $128,446
Median housing price: $525,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 90
Affordability ranking: 250
Education ranking: 38
Economic Condition ranking: 96 
Safety ranking: 25
Arts & Culture ranking: 245 

Famous people

Hannah Adams, the first female professional writer in America.
Uzo Aduba, Emmy-nominated actress, stars in Orange Is the New Black
Curt Schilling, former pitcher for the Red Sox
Rich Gotham, president of the Boston Celtics
Ron Erhardt, former head coach of the New England Patriots
Raymond Berry, former Patriots head coach
Pete Carroll, former Patriots head coach
John Hannah, former Patriots lineman, NFL Hall of Famer
Randy Moss, former Patriots wide receiver
Drew Bledsoe, former Patriots quarterback
Eric Mangini, former Patriots defensive coach
Ted Johnson, former Patriots linebacker
Donald E. Booth, US Ambassador to Ethiopia.

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#89 Mansfield

The birthplace of Honey Dew Donuts, Mansfield is a major concert destination in the northeast thanks to the Xfinity Center.  Mansfield is also the birthplace of industrialist Benjamin Bates, and the Great Woods Conservation Area is a wildlife attraction for residents and visitors alike.

Mansfield by the numbers

Established: 1775
Population: 23,184
Median household income: $91,182
Median housing price: $253,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 89
Affordability ranking: 88
Education ranking: 66
Economic Condition ranking: 95
Safety ranking: 160
Arts & Culture ranking: 165

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#88 New Bedford

"The Whaling City" is a coastal city that was a hub for immigrants and a settling spot for many slaves who escaped to the North via the underground railroad in the 19th century. Fishing and manufacturing are the backbone of the economy in New Bedford, where the melting pot culture makes for a vibrant community and a tourism destination.

New Bedford by the numbers

Established: 1787
Population: 95,072
Median household income: $37,493
Median housing price: $148,750

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 88
Affordability ranking: 254
Education ranking: 347
Economic Condition ranking: 92
Safety ranking: 274
Arts & Culture ranking: 6 

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#87 Boylston

Located on the banks of the Wachusett Reservoir, Boylston is a Central Massachusetts town with rural charm.  The residents of Boylston take pride in maintaining the natural beauty of the landscape.  The town common is dominated by a big, beautiful church that is nostalgic of days past.  Boylston is commutable to Boston and an ever easier commute from Worcester.

Boylston by the numbers
Established: 1786
Population: 4,355
Median household income: $91,734
Median housing price: $433,950

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 87
Affordability ranking: 297
Education ranking: 85
Economic condition ranking: 184
Safety ranking: 86
Arts & Culture ranking: 55

Famous people
John B. Gough, Temperance orator

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#86 Norwell

Originally an agricultural community, Norwell developed a strong shipbuilding industry in the 18th and 19th centuries. In present times, Norwell is a modern community with cultural attractions like the South Shore Natural Science Center, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about the natural environments of the South Shore.

Norwell by the numbers

Established: 1849
Population: 10,506
Median household income: $109,167
Median housing price: $503,750

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 86
Affordability ranking: 292
Education ranking: 29
Economic Condition ranking: 87
Safety ranking: 68
Arts & Culture ranking: 244

Famous people

Jan Brett, children's author/illustrator
Jennifer Coolidge, actress
Jeff Corwin, naturalist, television show host on Animal Planet
Les Sampou, folk singer and songwriter
Susan Tedeschi, blues musician
Dan Wetzel, sportswriter

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#85 Dunstable

The small, rural town of Dunstable is located just south of the Nashua, New Hampshire border. Residents assemble in volunteer groups to produce and uphold the traditional town celebrations like the Memorial Day Parade and Summer Concert Series. Dunstable has a strong education system and partner with Groton to form a regional middle and high school.

Dunstable by the numbers

Established: 1673
Population: 3,179
Median household income: $109,205
Median housing price: $355,450

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 85
Affordability ranking: 162
Education ranking: 23
Economic Condition ranking: 86
Safety ranking: 297
Arts & Culture ranking: 242

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#84 Stoneham

Stoneham's economy boomed with shoemaking in the industrial revolution, and again with carpenters and other craftsmen in the 20th century.  Affectionately dubbed "The Friendly Town," Stoneham provides residents with easy access to both the coastal areas of the state and the busy happenings of Boston.

Stoneham by the numbers

Established: 1725
Population: 21,437
Median household income: $77,476
Median housing price: $304,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 84
Affordability ranking: 231
Education ranking: 137
Economic Condition ranking: 85
Safety ranking: 108
Arts & Culture ranking: 58

Famous people

Quincy Brisco, comedian and media personality
Mario Cantone, comedian and actor
Sandro Corsaro, American animator and author
J. Geils, blues guitarist
Charles Gibbons, former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
Jonathan Goff, NFL player
George J. Hall, U.S. Army soldier and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II
Nancy Kerrigan, two-time Olympic figure skating medalist
John McKenzie, 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup champion with the Boston Bruins
Joe McLaughlin, NFL player
Matt Mira, Comedian and podcaster
Mike Ness, singer for punk band Social Distortion
Carol Sloane, jazz singer
Joe Vitiello, MLB player
Steve Yarbrough, novelist

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#83 Topsfield

Topsfield started as a small farm town and blossomed into a leader in making local railroads and manufacturing shoes in the 19th century.  When the 20th century brough electricity and automobiles, Topsfield continued to adapt and thrive while maintaining a strong agricultural base.  The Topsfield Fair and Memorial Day Parade are must-see annual events that capture the spirit of Topsfield.

Topsfield the numbers

Established: 1650
Population: 6,085
Median household income: $116,112
Median housing price: $355,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 83
Affordability ranking: 122
Education ranking: 46
Economic Condition ranking: 84
Safety ranking: 55
Arts & Culture ranking: 155 

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#82 Mashpee

Wampanoag culture is prevalent everywhere in Mashpee, where natives and settlers co-existed tumultuously for centuries.  The Wampanoag hold an annual pow-wow in town to promote traditions and customs within their culture. Mashpee is a tourism hub for its diverse culture and recreational activities.

Mashpee by the numbers

Established: 1870
Population: 14,006
Median household income: $90,096
Median housing price: $265,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 82
Affordability ranking: 73
Education ranking: 258
Economic Condition ranking: 83
Safety ranking: 197
Arts & Culture ranking: 29

Famous people

Jamaal Branch, former NFL player
Adrian Haynes, chief of the Wampanoag Nation
Dana Mohler-Faria, President of Bridgewater State University

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#81 Sherborn

Sherborn is now a major player in the Boston area technology industry, but at it's core is a small, rural town focued on a strong public education system.  Over 50% of the land area in Sherborn is open space, and volunteerism is a huge piece of community activities.

Sherborn by the numbers

Established: 1674
Population: 4,119
Median household income: $152,083
Median housing price: $588,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 81
Affordability ranking: 248
Education ranking: 43
Economic Condition ranking: 79
Safety ranking: 29
Arts & Culture ranking: 154 

Prev Next

#80 Rockport

Summer vacation homes, a strong fishing industry, a haven for artists and tourists alike- Rockport has it all.  GoLocal's #1 rated community for safety has been a historically dry community, although alcohol can now be served in restaurants, just not bought in a liquor store.  From the "Rockport Revolt Against Rum" to the thousands of artists who have visited to take in "Motif 1," this small town is one of a kind.

Rockport by the numbers

Established: 1840
Population: 6,952
Median household income: $71,447
Median housing price: $416,750

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 80
Affordability ranking: 324
Education ranking: 76
Economic Condition ranking: 82
Safety ranking: 1
Arts & Culture ranking: 71

Famous people

Daniel William Potter, President/Owner of Boston Woven Hose and Rubber Company
David Robinson, drummer for The Cars and the Modern Lovers
Nelson Bragg, percussionist/vocalist for Brian Wilson Band
Bobby Hebb, songwriter/singer
Maria Lekkakos, Miss Massachusetts USA 2004
Julian Soshnick, civil rights lawyer
Andrew Stanton, writer/director for Pixar
Vermin Supreme, 2012 independent US presidential candidate

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#79 Lakeville

Named for the system of lakes in town, Lakeville has a strong community and residents have a volunteering attitude about getting things done.

Lakeville by the numbers

Established: 1853
Population: 10,602
Median household income: $93,260
Median housing price: $256,450

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 79
Affordability ranking: 74
Education ranking: 122
Economic Condition ranking: 81
Safety ranking: 182
Arts & Culture ranking: 56 

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#78 Beverly

Beverly and Marblehead both claim to be the birthplace of the U.S. Navy, but one thing that can't be denied is Beverly's rich cultural community.  With parks, open spaces, coastal land, and beaches, "The Garden City" is a top notch geographic community.

Beverly by the numbers

Established: 1668
Population: 39,502
Median household income: $67,733
Median housing price: $281,800

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 78
Affordability ranking: 253
Education ranking: 221
Economic Condition ranking: 80
Safety ranking: 148
Arts & Culture ranking: 47 

Famous people

Beverly has an impressive range of famous residents, ranging from James F. Cahill, one of the nation's first Navy SEALs, to Jonathan Manzi, the youngest person ever to achieve millionaire status (at age 16).

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#77 Tyngsborough

Originally known for its ferries that carted people up and down the Merrimack River, Tyngsborough has long been a popular vacation community.  Today, a green arch bridge over the Merrimack is the symbol residents and tourists identify as Tyngsborough's emblem, and the community has a strong commuter presence on the Massachusetts/New Hampsire border.

Tyngsborough by the numbers

Established: 1809
Population: 11,292
Median household income: $101,103
Median housing price: $288,369

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 77
Affordability ranking: 96
Education ranking: 74
Economic Condition ranking: 77
Safety ranking: 158
Arts & Culture ranking: 107 

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#76 Marblehead

The Marblehead Lighthouse, Wildlife Sanctuary, and several parks and peaches make Marblehead a destination community.  Like Beverly, Marblehead claims to be the birthplace of the Navy, and the community also has strong industries in fishing and yachting.

Marblehead by the numbers

Established: 1649
Population: 19,808
Median household income: $99,574
Median housing price: $449,732

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 76
Affordability ranking: 263
Education ranking: 60
Economic Condition ranking: 78
Safety ranking: 94
Arts & Culture ranking: 162

Famous people

From Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story to Nobel Prize winner Eugene O'Neil, there's no shortage of impressive Marblehead natives through the years.

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#75 Holden

Incorporated in 1741, the town was an active farm community. In 1951 Holden became the first town in the Commonwealth to adopt the Selectmen - Town Manager form of government. Today, Holden has developed into a small town that serves as a bedroom community for the city of Worcester. Residents enjoy many community services including a town beach and pool, community center, and library.

Holden by the numbers
Established: 1741
Population: 17,346
Median household income: $89,660
Median housing price: $255,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 75
Affordability ranking: 98
Education ranking: 48
Economic Condition ranking: 204
Safety ranking: 17
Arts & Culture ranking: 102

Prev Next

#74 Springfield

"The City of Firsts" has long been a leader in innovation, from the modern car to sports like basketball and volleyball. The 4th largest city in New England, Springfield is home to Smith and Wesson,the world's largest handgun producer; MassMutual Financial Group, a Fortune 100 company; and the American Hockey League headquarters.

Springfield by the numbers

Established: 1852
Population: 153,060
Median household income: $35,603
Median housing price: $100,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 74
Affordability ranking: 165
Education ranking: 349
Economic Condition ranking: 75
Safety ranking: 282
Arts & Culture ranking: 7

Famous people

Among Springfield's hundreds of notable residents, inventors like Milton Bradley stand out, as does childhood folk hero Johnny Appleseed, who was based on Springfield native John Chapman.

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#73 Hadley

The expansion of UMass Amhearst in the 1960;s transformed Hadley into an old farming community into a fresh, new, developing town that blends commerical development with its agricultural roots.  Hopkins Academy in Hadley is the 4th oldest public school in the United States.

Hadley by the numbers

Established: 1661
Population: 5,250
Median household income: $75313
Median housing price: $175,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 73
Affordability ranking: 36
Education ranking: 75
Economic Condition ranking: 76
Safety ranking: 278
Arts & Culture ranking: 108

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#72 Medway

Like many Massachusetts towns, Medway originated as a farming community and later added manufacturing to the economic backbone, building mills along the Charles River. Medway stands out for its education scores and modernizaton while still maintaining open town meetings and a small town vibe.

Medway by the numbers

Established: 1713
Population: 12,752
Median household income: $106,058
Median housing price: $242,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 72
Affordability ranking: 45
Education ranking: 26
Economic Condition ranking: 74
Safety ranking: 66
Arts & Culture ranking: 243

Famous people

Grizzly" Adams, mountain man, bear trainer
Allie Moulton, MLB player
Pete Carmichael, Jr., offensive coach in the NFL
Alphonso Van Marsh, American journalist and war correspondent for CNN.
Judith Moffatt, Illustrator of 50+ children’s books

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#71 Chelmsford

At it's inception, Chelmsford's economy was based around lumber and limestone.  The local militia played a big role in American victories in the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill.  Another claim to fame is the Canada Dry Ginger Ale brand, which acquired Chelmsford Ginger Ale in the ealy 1900's.

Chelmsford by the numbers

Established: 1655
Population: 33,802
Median household income: $90,895
Median housing price: $270,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 71
Affordability ranking: 136
Education ranking: 61
Economic Condition ranking: 70
Safety ranking: 139
Arts & Culture ranking: 104

Famous people

Josiah Gardner Abbott, U.S. Rep. from Massachusetts
Keith Aucoin, NHL player
Phil Bourque, NHL player
Gerry Callahan, Boston Herald sports columnist and radio host on WEEI.
George Condo, painter who has worked with Andy Warhol and Kanye West
Gururaj Deshpande, social entrepreneur
Steve Hunt, jazz pianist
Ulysses John "Tony" Lupien, MLB player
Jon McKennedy, NASCAR driver
Jon Morris, NHL player
Peter Torkildsen, chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party 
Lance Wilder, background design supervisor for The Simpsons
Liz McCartney, Broadway actress

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#70 Wenham

Settled in 1963, Wenham has retained much of its historic character, with woodlands, well-maintained historic homes, and farmlands. It boasts an expansive 300 acres of of recreational space, parks, and playgrounds. Other major landmarks are the Wenham Tea House, first established as a space for ladies to sell their crafts, jams, and jellies, and the Wenham Museum.

Wenham by the numbers
Population: 48,785
Median household income: $139,856
Median housing price: $295,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 70
Affordability ranking: 31
Education ranking: 42
Economic condition ranking: 42
Safety ranking: 31
Arts & Culture ranking: 153

Famous people
Paul Harding, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers
Bob Stanley, former Red Sox relief pitcher

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#69 Yarmouth

Recreation activities are there for everyone in Yarmouth.  Beaches, trails, bike paths, golf courses- Yarmouth has it all.  Once known as a whaling town, Yarmouth is now a destination community, developing hotels and summer homes that allow tourism to drive the local economy.

Yarmouth by the numbers

Established: 1639
Population: 23,793
Median household income: $63,177
Median housing price: $311,461

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 69
Affordability ranking: 293
Education ranking: 307
Economic Condition ranking: 71
Safety ranking: 261
Arts & Culture ranking: 14

Famous people

Asa Eldridge, sea captain
Edward Gorey, writer and illustrator
Joseph Eldridge Hamblin, Civil War major general
Christy Mihos, businessman and politician
Snow Parker, merchant, judge and politician
Keith Reed, MLB player
Thomas Chandler Thacher, congressman
George Thatcher, lawyer and statesman

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#68 Harwich

Home to the Harwich Cranberry Festival, the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod Baseball League, and numerous beaches, trails, and open spaces, Harwich is a fun town with a great location on Cape Cod. Harwich is also a huge vacation destination, offering a great package of weather, culture, and fun activities.

Harwich by the numbers

Established: 1694
Population: 12,243
Median household income: $57,455
Median housing price: $330,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 68
Affordability ranking: 315
Education ranking: 178
Economic Condition ranking: 72
Safety ranking: 186
Arts & Culture ranking: 26

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#67 Lenox

This small but vibrant New England town nestled in the heart of the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts has unsurpassed rural beauty and major cultural attractions, including Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Shakespeare and Company’s new international campus, and Edith Wharton’s restored mansion,  The Mount. Despite Lenox's strength as a tourist destination, it remains primarily a residential community of approximately 6000 people.

Lenox by the numbers
Established: 1803
Population: 5025
Median household income: $54,622
Median housing price:  $235,000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 67
Affordability ranking: 261
Education ranking: 181
Economic condition ranking: 197
Safety ranking: 205
Arts & Culture ranking: 27

Famous people

Astor family
Henry Ward Beecher, clergyman & social reformer
Andrew Carnegie, industrialist
Frank T. Hassa, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
Nathaniel Hawthorne, writer
Fanny Kemble, actress & writer
George M. Landers, congressman
Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, social worker
Yo-Yo Ma, musician
Nicole Miller, fashion designer
George Morell, jurist
Charles Henry Parkhurst, Congregational minister
John Paterson, general & congressman
Catharine Sedgwick, writer
Maureen Stapleton, actress
Anson Phelps Stokes, financier
James Taylor
Vanderbilt family
George Westinghouse, industrialist
Edith Wharton, writer
Robert Shaw Sturgis Whitman, Episcopal clergyman

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#66 Seekonk

Established in 1812 after years of border disputes among nearby towns, Seekonk was largely an agricultural community before the industrial revolution brought manufacturing to the northeast.  Farming reigned supreme for decades in Seekonk, but in modern times the town has been developed and modernized into a suburuban community. One unique attraction to seekonk is the "Seekonk Speedway" fast track, which has been bringing residents and visitors together since 1946.

Seekonk by the numbers

Established: 1812
Population: 13,722
Median household income: $78,032
Median housing price: $212,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 66
Affordability ranking: 71
Education ranking: 68
Economic Condition ranking: 67
Safety ranking: 238
Arts & Culture ranking: 106

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#65 Northampton

Lovingly nicknamed "The Paradise City," Northampton has long been a progressive, politically liberal community.  From Northampton's strong abolitionist presence in the mid-1800's, the Clarke School for the Deaf (the first of its kind) in 1867, all the way up to today's artistic and counter-culture staples in society, Northampton always has a way of being ahead of the times.

Northampton by the numbers

Established: 1884
Population: 28,549
Median household income: $54,413
Median housing price: $214,400

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 65
Affordability ranking: 249
Education ranking: 219
Economic Condition ranking: 66
Safety ranking: 250
Arts & Culture ranking: 28

Famous people

Northampton has churned out famous political voices on both sides of the spectrum. U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, a conservative Republican, worked his way up the political ladder by starting as mayor of Northampton.  Conversely, Rachel Maddow, one of the leading liberal political commentators in media today, also is a Northampton resident.

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#64 Dover

A residential town on the south side of the Charles River, Dover has a variety of open spaces, trails, and woods for residents and wildlife to put to good use.  In addition to being a top community for education, Dover also features historical attractions like the Benjamin Caryl House and the Sawin Building.

Dover by the numbers

Established: 1836
Population: 5,589
Median household income: $184,646
Median housing price: $725,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 64
Affordability ranking: 213
Education ranking: 42
Economic Condition ranking: 23
Safety ranking: 53
Arts & Culture ranking: 247

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#63 Bolton

Home to the Bolton Fair, which is held in mid August every year, the argricultural heritage of Bolton is shown through the apple orchards and farm stands dispersed throughout the town. Since its incorporation in 1738, the town has remained a rural community, without public water or sewer.  Students attend elementary and middle school at the Florence Sawyer School, and high school at the Nashoba Regional High School, located in town.  

Bolton by the numbers
Established: 1738
Population: 4,897
Median household income: $137,120
Median housing price: $415,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 63
Affordability ranking: 143
Education ranking: 55
Economic Condition ranking: 101
Safety ranking: 290
Arts & Culture ranking: 70

Famous people
Bill Ezinicki, NHL Stanley Cup winner
Hal Gill, NHL player
Philip J. Philbin, United States House of Representative
Wilbert Robinson, Baseball Hall of Fame inductee
William C Sullivan, Head of FBI

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#62 Edgartown

A tourism town on Martha's Vineyard, Edgartown has roots in the whaling industry, and the town was used to film Jaws in 1975. Rapid population growth has led to renovations and modernization, but the Edgartown Harbor Light remains a symbol of the small town community, past and present.

Edgartown by the numbers

Established: 1671
Population: 4,067
Median household income: $74,214
Median housing price: $800,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 62
Affordability ranking: 345
Education ranking: 155
Economic Condition ranking: 64
Safety ranking: 268
Arts & Culture ranking: 45

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#61 Boxford

Boxford is a rural community with minimal commercial development. Geographically large but comparitively small in population, Boxford has numerous lakes, streams, forests, and other places where wildlife can thrive.

Boxford by the numbers

Established: 1685
Population: 7,965
Median household income: $137,159
Median housing price: $525,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 61
Affordability ranking: 219
Education ranking: 45
Economic Condition ranking: 62
Safety ranking: 13
Arts & Culture ranking: 101

Famous people

Boxford has been home to a number of star athletes,most notably former Red Sox outfielder Carl Yaztrzemski and former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque.

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#60 North Reading

North Reading's creeks, rivers, and parks make it a beautiful destination for tourists.  It's an industrial community that began as an agricultural economy before saw mills and shoemaking bolstered the economy in the 1800's leading up to the Civil War.  North Reading is proud to be one of the top education communities in the entire state.

North Reading by the numbers

Established: 1853
Population: 14,892
Median household income: $104,069
Median housing price: $389,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 60
Affordability ranking: 222
Education ranking: 37
Economic Condition ranking: 61
Safety ranking: 73
Arts & Culture ranking: 100

Famous people

Jonathan Bird, Emmy-winning TV producer
Jon Favreau, speechwriter for Barack Obama
Ryan Fitzgerald, Former Boston College and Boston Bruins hockey player
Tom Fitzgerald, Assistant General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins[15][16]
Art Kenney, retired principal of North Reading High School, former MLB player
George Frederick Root, songwriter

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#59 Rehoboth

One of the oldest towns in Massachusetts, Rehobeth is a historic rural community.  Anawan Rock, the Carpenter Museum, and monthly poetry nights are big attractions, and 53 historic cemeteries is a unique trait for any community.  Rehobeth stays true to its rural roots and is officially a "right to farm" community.

Rehoboth by the numbers

Established: 1643
Population: 11,608
Median household income: $87,563
Median housing price: $287,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 59
Affordability ranking: 139
Education ranking: 169
Economic Condition ranking: 60
Safety ranking: 138
Arts & Culture ranking: 25

Famous people

John W. Davis, the 38th and 41st Governor of Rhode Island
Michael Glancy, internationally renowned contemporary glass artist
Darius Goff, mill owner 

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#58 Westborough

Westborough has become one of the leading centers for technology and biotechnology in Massachusetts, and even the US on the whole. While more urban than some other Central Mass towns, the Westborough Community Land Trust oversees 15 different sets of walking trails, called the “Charm Bracelet”. When completed, the 28 mile loop around town will connect every open space, recreation area, school and neighborhood. Westborough’s access to the commuter rail and Routes 9 and 495 make it an ideal commuter location. Route 9 provides access to business, industry, shopping and restaurants.

Westborough by the numbers
Established: 1717
Population: 18,272
Median household income: $99,394
Median housing price: $397,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 58
Affordability ranking: 256
Education ranking: 32
Economic condition ranking: 206
Safety ranking: 8
Arts & Culture ranking: 97

Famous people
Eli Whitney Blake, inventor of stone crusher, businessman
Jaime Brockett, folk singer
Jim Campbell, hockey player
Andrew Clements, children's author
Henry W. Corbett, businessman and senator
Mark D. Devlin, author
Esther Forbes, author
Tod Griffin, actor
Ashley Hayden, luge athlete
Richard B. Johnson, author
Horace Maynard, politician
Thomas Rice, politician and founding citizen
John Ruggles, politician
Jordan Smotherman, ice hockey player
Nikki Stone, skier
Jeffrey Thomas, science fiction and horror author
Eli Whitney, inventor and industrialist
Jack M. Wilson, President of the University of Massachusetts

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#57 Hopkinton

Hopkinton, home of the Boston Marathon’s starting line since 1924, has its roots in agriculture, with the shoe and boot industries taking root in town in the mid-1800s. Today EMC, a data storage provider, has its world headquarters in town. The town is home to two state parks, Hopkinton State Park and Whitehall State Park, which are popular recreation areas.

Hopkinton by the numbers
Established: 1715
Population: 14,925
Median household income: $126,350
Median housing price: $520,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 57
Affordability ranking: 255
Education ranking: 17
Economic condition ranking: 50
Safety ranking: 21
Arts & Culture ranking: 148

Famous people
Walter Brown, Founding owner of Boston Celtics, Basketball and Hockey Hall of Fames
Richard Egan, EMC Corporation founder
Mike Grier, NHL player
Daniel Shays, Leader of Shays' Rebellion
Steve Nicol- Coach of the New England Revolution soccer team

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#56 Lowell

Lowell was the "cradle" for the industrial revolution, and the Merrimack River was used to power the textile mills that drove what became the largest industrial complex in the United States.  The Great Depression hit Lowell hard, but the city and its residents persevered and an influx of immigration in the mid-20th century brought cultural and economic changes that turned the tide.

Lowell by the numbers

Established:1836 
Population: 106,519
Median household income: $51,471
Median housing price:  $180,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 56
Affordability ranking: 207
Education ranking: 327
Economic Condition ranking: 58
Safety ranking: 253
Arts & Culture ranking: 13 

Famous people

As is to be expected for a city of its size, Lowell has had hundreds of famous residents.

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#55 Groton

Groton is a small town community with a strong education system and a classic Open Town Meeting system of government. Groton is also home to a pair of elite prep schools: Groton School (Franklin Delano Roosevelt is a graduate) and St. Lawrence Academy are among the best in the region.

Groton by the numbers

Established: 1655
Population: 10,646
Median household income: $117,903
Median housing price: $320,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 55
Affordability ranking: 77
Education ranking: 22
Economic Condition ranking: 56
Safety ranking: 70
Arts & Culture ranking: 149

Famous people

Groton is home to dozens of notable people, from Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessey to Elizabeth Knapp, "the witch of Groton"

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#54 Foxborough

Foxborough was once home of the world's largest straw hat factory, and now is home to the New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, and Patriot Place. Foxborough also has fun community recreational activities, and outdoors-y people will love biking or hiking F. Gilbert Hills Forest.

Foxborough by the numbers

Established: 1778
Population: 16,865
Median household income: $92,370
Median housing price: $288,369

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 54
Affordability ranking: 130
Education ranking: 77
Economic Condition ranking: 57
Safety ranking: 252
Arts & Culture ranking: 54

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#53 Essex

They say that the river calls you, but the town keeps you, and this beautiful Cape Ann small town on the river that bears its name has a legacy of shipbuilding and the beautiful architecture that stems from it.

Essex by the numbers
Population: 3,504
Median household income: $79,492
Median housing price: $489,000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 53
Affordability ranking: 331
Education ranking: 13
Economic condition ranking: 182
Safety ranking: 33
Arts & Culture ranking: 93

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#52 Ipswich

This coastal town in Essex County takes the spotlight for its delicious, fresh clams, which are celebrated at the annual Ipswich Chowderfest. Along with its traditional New England residential neighborhoods, Ipswich offers a wide array of dynamic tourist places. The Crane Beach, a four mile long sandy beachfront with hiking trails, is a popular tourist and residential attraction throughout the year.

Ipswich by the numbers
Population: 13,175
Median household income: $84,609
Median housing price: $289,900
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 52
Affordability ranking: 186
Education ranking: 164
Economic condition ranking: 112
Safety ranking: 52
Arts & Culture ranking: 24

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#51 Shrewsbury

If people turn off busy Route 9, they would see a very different town than what initially meets the eye in Shrewsbury. Once home to Spag’s, a discount store owned by local businessman Anthony Borgatti, Shrewsbury is now a thriving community with a blend of residential and commercial development. The town, which boasts beautiful parks and lakes, is also home to three Nationally Registered Historic Places: The Gen. Artemas Ward Homestead, the Shrewsbury Historic District, and two 1767 Milestones, which marked the route of the old Boston Post Road.

Shrewbury by the numbers
Established: 1727
Population: 35,608
Median household income: $88,985
Median housing price: $372,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 51
Affordability ranking: 240
Education ranking: 18
Economic condition ranking: 55
Safety ranking: 37
Arts & Culture ranking: 241

Famous people
Lillian Asplund, Last American survivor of the SS Titanic
Gregory McDonald, Author
Craig C Mello, Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine
Francis Patrick O'Connor, Massachusetts Supreme Court Judge
Robert Allan Ridley Parker, Director of the NSA Management Office at the Jet Propulsion Lab
Charles P Pierce, Journalist, panelist on NPR.

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#50 Carlisle

Even today, Carlisle retains a rural look and quaint feel, without a single traffic light, shopping plaza, condominium, and no industrial park . The town hosts a library, a dentist, a small store, an ATM , and numerous residential homes. The two town ice cream stores produce their wares from milk produced at local farms.

Carlisle by the numbers
Population: 4,852
Median household income: $159,063
Median housing price: $647,500
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 50
Affordability ranking: 252
Education ranking: 7
Economic condition ranking: 18
Safety ranking: 7
Arts & Culture ranking: 240

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#49 Middleton

Located on the Ipswitch River , Middleton started as a small farming community and later developed an ironworks industry to supplement it's agricultural economy. Middleton is presently one of the fastest growing communitites in Massachusetts, and it's been a popular vacation community for centuries.

Middleton by the numbers

Established: 1728
Population: 8,987
Median household income: $93,415
Median housing price: $315,800

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 49
Affordability ranking: 174
Education ranking: 44
Economic Condition ranking: 50
Safety ranking: 71
Arts & Culture ranking: 69

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#48 Marshfield

Marshfield takes pride in its education and natural beauty, and events like the Marshfield Fair draw visitors from around Massachusetts.  Marshfield is also known as the settling place of national political figure Daniel Webster in the early to mid-1800's.

Marshfield by the numbers

Established: 1640
Population: 25,132
Median household income: $93,743
Median housing price: $337,000 

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 48
Affordability ranking: 195
Education ranking: 36
Economic Condition ranking: 49
Safety ranking: 189
Arts & Culture ranking: 99 

Famous people

Aerosmith band members Steven Tyler, Joey Kramer and Brad Whitford
F. Lee Bailey, attorney
Dicky Barrett, lead singer of Boston band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Steve Carell and his wife Nancy Carell, comedians/actors
Joe Castiglione, Red Sox play-by-play announcer on WEEI
Susan Cooper, writer
Joseph Patrick Kennedy II, former U.S. congressman, son of Bobby Kennedy
Sean Morey, NFL player
Sean Morris, pro lacrosse player for the Boston Cannons and Boston Blazers
John Thomas, general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution
David Warsofsky, former Bruins player
Daniel Webster, statesman, orator, senator, Secretary of State to three U.S. presidents

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#47 Franklin

Incorporated in 1778, Franklin named itself in honor of U.S. statesman Benjamin Franklin. At the Franklin Public Library, the first public library in America, there are original books donated by Benjamin Franklin. This suburban industrial community on the watershed between Charles and Blackstone Rivers also has a wide spectrum of architectural styles which include High Victorian Gothic buildings seen in Dean College.

Franklin by numbers
Population: 31,635
Median household income: $92,066
Median housing price: $310,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 47
Affordability ranking: 170
Education ranking: 35
Economic condition ranking: 109
Safety ranking: 11
Arts & Culture ranking: 98

Famous people
Peter Laviolette, current Head Coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, former Head Coach of the 2006 Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes. Coached Team USA in the 2006 Olympics in Italy
Horace Mann, educator
Josh Miller, football player
Jimmy Rodgers, basketball coach
Ed Ronan, hockey player
Andrea Ross, actress and singer
Asante Samuel, football player
Bobby Santos III, NASCAR driver
Vince Wilfork, football player for the New England Patriots
Ilario Zannino, mobster
Ellis Hobbs, former Patriots player
Bob Ward, Fox 25 News reporter/ anchor
Kevin Lemanowicz, WFXT Fox 25 Chief Meteorologist
Eugene Wilson, former Patriots football player

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#46 Wellfleet

Shellfish lovers have to get to the October Wellfleet Oysterfest- Samuel de Champlain didn't call Wellfleet "Oyster Port" for no reason.  Those oysters drive the economy to this day. Another claim to fame for Wellfleet is the pivotal role the community played as the location of early radio transmissions and experiments in the early 20th century.

Wellfleet by the numbers

Established: 1763
Population: 2,750
Median household income: $59,234
Median housing price: $359,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 46
Affordability ranking: 319
Education ranking: 94
Economic Condition ranking: 51
Safety ranking: 178
Arts & Culture ranking: 44

Famous people

Lorenzo Dow Baker, entrepreneur, banana commercialization pioneer
Samuel Bellamy, pirate
Serge Chermayeff, architect
Noam Chomsky, linguist, political critic
Mike DeVito, NFL player
John Dos Passos, writer
John M. Johansen, architect
Robert Jay Lifton, psychiatrist, author
Guglielmo Marconi, technology pioneer
MaryMcCarthy, writer
Marge Piercy, poet
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., historian
Howard Zinn, historian

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#45 Orleans

A gorgeous small community on the water, Orleans naturally thrived economically on fishing and whaling, and also raise considerable tourism revenue.  But don't confuse beauty for weakness- Orleans residents fought off the British marines in an attempted invasion in 1814.

Orleans by the numbers

Established: 1797
Population: 5,890
Median household income: $39,444
Median housing price: $660,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 45
Affordability ranking: 351
Education ranking: 93
Economic Condition ranking: 47
Safety ranking: 245
Arts & Culture ranking: 34

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#44 Sharon

The town's Central Post Office Square welcomes everyone with the sign "A nice place to live because it's naturally beautiful." Sharon, located 22 miles midway between Boston and Providence, is a charming town with a natural treasure called Lake Masspoag. Residents can enjoy outdoor life through concerts, fireworks, fishing, and swimming on Memorial Beach.

Sharon by the numbers
Population: 17,612
Median household income: $121,265
Median housing price: $370,125

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 44
Affordability ranking: 146
Education ranking: 19
Economic condition ranking: 149
Safety ranking: 24
Arts & Culture ranking: 96

Famous people
Mildred Allen, physicist
Tully Banta-Cain, NFL player
Leonard Bernstein, composer (summer resident)
Etan Cohen, screenwriter
Arthur Vining Davis, industrialist and philanthropist
Tommy Harper, baseball player
Amasa Hewins, portrait, genre and landscape painter
Roland James, football defensive back
Sam Jones, Boston Celtics basketball player
Myron Kaufmann, (NY Times best selling) novelist
Bill Keating, congressman
Henry Way Kendall, physicist, Nobel laureate
Ty Law, football cornerback
Jack Levin, criminologist
Bruce Pearl, basketball coach
Frank Salemme, Italian/Irish mobster and former boss of Patriarca crime family
Deborah Sampson, Revolutionary era heroine
Pete Seibert, ski resort founder
Andre Tippett, football linebacker (Hall of Fame)
Charles Q. Tirrell, congressman
Terrence Wheatley, football cornerback
Nick Zinner, guitarist

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#43 Williamstown

A small-town community with a vibrant culture and strong economy, Williamstown also has the scenic Mount Greylock range for eye candy.  Agriculture and sawmills and gristmills were long the chief economic force in the community, but today the largest employer in Williamstown is Williams College.

Williamstown by the numbers

Established: 1765
Population: 7,754
Median household income: 72,743
Median housing price: $345,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 43
Affordability ranking: 297
Education ranking: 88
Economic Condition ranking: 45
Safety ranking: 223
Arts & Culture ranking: 33 

Famous people

George Steinbrenner, New York Yankees owner
Matthew Perry, actor
Herbert A. Allen, Jr., businessman
James MacGregor Burns, historian and biographer
Albert Cummings, blues guitarist
Daniel Dewey, Massachusetts congressman
Stephen Hannock, painter
Alex Kershaw, author
Elizabeth Kolbert, journalist & author
Joe McGinniss, author
John Bennett Perry, actor
Roger Rees, actor
Christopher Reeve, actor
Dick Sabot, economist
Jane Swift, former governor
Fay Vincent, MLB commissioner
William Wootters, quantum physicist

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#42 Gloucester

Gloucester is a magnet for art and culture.  Movies (Grown Ups, among others), literature, and famous sculptures have all been set in or completed in Gloucester. A leader in the shipbuilding industry, the world's first schooner was constructed in Gloucester in 1713.  The cherry on top is the landmark Man at the Wheel monument, dedicated to "they that go to the sea in ships."

Gloucester by the numbers

Established: 
Population: 28,789
Median household income: $59,061
Median housing price: $275,750

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 42
Affordability ranking: 288
Education ranking: 245
Economic Condition ranking: 43
Safety ranking: 127
Arts & Culture ranking: 16

Famous people

Gloucester has been home to dozens of notable individuals, from Babson College founder Roger Babson to former CNN anchor Kris Osborn.

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#41 Braintree

Braintree has a rich history, as the birth of two U.S. presidents: John Adams and John Quincy Adams. The town is currently a mix of established homes, new developments, and condominiums. Braintree boasts one of the largest shopping centers in the northeast: The South Shore Plaza. This primarily residential area is home to numerous recreational spots including its Town Forest, Pond Meadow Park, Sunset Lake, and Smith Beach. Braintree is also home to Thayer Academy, one of the top prep schools in the region.

Braintree by the numbers
Population: 35,744
Median household income: $83,710
Median housing price: $302,000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 41
Affordability ranking: 184
Education ranking: 33
Economic condition ranking: 56
Safety ranking: 137
Arts & Culture ranking: 152

Famous residents
John Adams, signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the first Vice President of the United States, econd President of the United States.
John Quincy Adams, American diplomat, sixth President of the United States, member of the United States House of Representatives.
John Hancock, signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, fourth President of the Continental Congress, American diplomat and statesman.
Sylvanus Thayer, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, called "the Father of West Point".
Thomas A. Watson, primary assistant of Alexander Graham Bell, assisted in invention of the telephone; founder of Fore River Shipyard.
Joe Amorosino, reporter and sports director for WHDH-TV.
Jim Calhoun, former head coach of University of Connecticut men's basketball team.
Chris Doherty, musician and recording artist from the band Gang Green.
Tiffany Kelly, beauty pageant winner, Miss Massachusetts of 2006.
Peter Kormann, American gymnast and winner of the bronze medal in men's floor competition at the 1976 Olympics
Don McKenney, hockey center, captain of the Boston Bruins 1954–1963.
Jose Offerman, baseball player for the Boston Red Sox
William Rosenberg, creator of the Dunkin' Donuts restaurant chain.
Butch Stearns, sports anchorman, now Chief Content Officer for The Pulse Network.
Mo Vaughn, baseball player for the Boston Red Sox
Donnie Wahlberg, record producer, songwriter, singer, actor; founding member of the musical group New Kids on the Block
Mark Wahlberg, film and television producer, Academy Award nominated actor, former member of the musical group New Kids on the Block, and former lead singer of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

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#40 Stow

The lovely old New England apple orchard in full bloom is not the only beautiful sight in Stow. A small rural community of around 6,500 residents, the town is a popular weekend destination during the apple-picking season. Stow is also famous for its numerous golf courses with 4 courses and a total of 81 golf holes.

Stow by the numbers
Population: 6,590
Median household income: $112,130
Median housing price: $422,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 40
Affordability ranking: 234
Education ranking: 54
Economic condition ranking: 150
Safety ranking: 62
Arts & Culture ranking: 43

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#39 Wayland

Wayland has also developed as a quiet commuter town because of its close proximity to Boston. Established in 1638 as the first settlement of the Sudbury plantation, the town will celebrate its 375th year anniversary starting June 15. It is not only an ideal place to raise a family for its highly regarded school system but also has a beautiful rural setting with forests, marshes, and fields that surround the Sudbury River.

Wayland by numbers
Population: 12,994
Median household income: $125,076
Median housing price: $522,500
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 39
Affordability ranking: 265
Education ranking: 15
Economic condition ranking: 60
Safety ranking: 10
Arts & Culture ranking: 95

Famous people
Sammy Adams, rapper
Amar Bose, founder of Bose Corporation
David Blair, independent electronic cinema director
Lydia Maria Child, 19th-century American abolitionist, novelist, journalist
Tom Conroy, Member of House of Representatives
Archibald Cox, legal scholar, Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Scandal
Jonathan Elias, co-anchor for WBZ-TV News in Boston
David Hackett Fischer, Brandeis Professor of History and author
Tom Hamilton, bass player for Aerosmith
Josiah Johnson Hawes, pioneering 19th-century photographer
Beatrice Herford, actress
Joyce Kulhawik, arts and entertainment anchor for WBZ-TV News in Boston
Allen Morgan, founder and first executive director of Sudbury Valley Trustees
Johnny Most, the radio voice of the Boston Celtics
Tim Murphy, head coach of the Harvard football team
Bobby Orr former Boston Bruins hockey player the MVP of the 1972 Stanley Cup
Jonathan Papelbon, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox
Alvaro Pascual-Leone, noted neuroscientist
Peter Rowan, bluegrass musician
Harold Russell, Academy Award winner
Alberto Salazar, marathon runner
Taylor Schilling, actress.
Tom Scholz, guitarist for 70's rock group Boston
Harley Yanoff, actor and founder of Spotlight Productions
Edmund Sears, 1800s Unitarian parish minister, author famous for penning the words to "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear".
Sarah Sewall, lecturer
Ryan Sypek, actor and star of the TV series Wildfire
Steven Tyler, band member of Aerosmith
Gladys Widdiss, tribal historian and potter, President of the Aquinnah Wampanoag of Gay Head

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#38 Pittsfield

The geographic and commercial hub of the Berkshires, Pittsfield has a rich and historic culture, not to mention a place in baseball history as the site of the first college game in 1859 (Amherst defeated Williams College in a 73-32 slugfest). With a strong economy to boot, Pittsfield is a top cultural community both past and present.

Pittsfield by the numbers

Established: 1761
Population: 44,737
Median household income: 44,513
Median housing price: 122,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 38
Affordability ranking: 115
Education ranking: 282
Economic Condition ranking: 36
Safety ranking: 231
Arts & Culture ranking: 12

Famous people

Pittsfield has had dozens of famous residents over the years, from Moby Dick author Herman Melville to Catholic Bishop John James Rudin.

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#37 Needham

Initially an agricultural town, Needham came to rely on land speculation, housing development, and knitted underwear as the bases of their economy. The development of highway systems allowed the town to into industry, and create its first industrial park in 1950. Today, Needham is primarily a residential community, with easy access into Boston.

Needham by the numbers
Population: 28,886
Median household income: $121,080
Median housing price: $651,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 37
Affordability ranking: 310
Education ranking: 23
Economic condition ranking: 13
Safety ranking: 58
Arts & Culture ranking: 150

Famous people
Ananda Coomaraswamy, art historian, philosopher, and Indologist
Nelson Goodman, philosopher
Thomas Huckle Weller, virologist, Nobel Prize winner, died in Needham
Harold Russell, actor
Sarah Saltzberg, actress/singer, star of Broadway's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Edmund H. Garrett, prolific 19th- and 20th-century book illustrator
Pietro Pezzati, portrait artist
Michael John Straub, artist
Walter E. Ware, architect
N.C. Wyeth, artist
Ellie Brown, artist
Jeff Taylor, founder of Monster.com
Joey McIntyre, singer-songwriter and actor
Marissa Nadler, singer
Richard Patrick, Founder of industrial band Filter and former member of Nine Inch Nails
Tiger Okoshi, jazz trumpet musician
Edward T. Barry, ice hockey player and coach
Dave Cadigan, offensive lineman in the NFL
Robbie Ftorek, NHL coach
Mike Milbury, former player of Boston Bruins and now Sportscaster
Tom O'Regan, former forward for the Boston University Terriers and the Pittsburgh Penguins
Aly Raisman, US Women's artistic gymnast and 2-time Olympic Gold medalist and bronze medalist
Karl Ravech, ESPN Baseball Tonight anchor
Derek Sanderson, former Boston Bruins player
Marsha Bemko, executive producer of "Antiques Roadshow"
Lee Eisenberg, writer for The Office
Steve Hely, writer of American Dad!
Ben Karlin, executive producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report
Molly McAleer, writer for 2 Broke Girls, correspondent for Love You, Mean It with Whitney Cummings, founder of HelloGiggles
Scott Rosenberg, screenwriter
John Slattery, actor on Mad Men
Janet Tashjian, author of The Gospel According to Larry

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#36 Canton

As the headquarters of well-known companies such as Reebok and Dunkin’ Donuts, Canton is about 15 miles southwest of downtown Boston. Accessible and convenient transportation allows residents to Boston, New Hampshire, and Providence through the MBTA, Interstate 93 and 95, and Massachusetts Route 128. The Canton Viaduct built in 1835 is one of the two oldest surviving multiple arch stone railroad bridges and is still in use.   

Canton by the numbers
Population: 21,561
Median household income: $90,951
Median housing price: $315,000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 36
Affordability ranking: 173
Education ranking: 64
Economic condition ranking: 67
Safety ranking: 111
Arts & Culture ranking: 53

Famous people
NBA basketball player Dana Barros
Bill Burr, comedian
NBA basketball great Dave Cowens
Commodore John Downes, U.S. Navy officer who fought in the War with Tripoli and the War of 1812 and commanded a punitive expedition to Sumatra in the 1830s
Paul Guilfoyle, actor, CSI:Crime Scene Investigation
Rob Mariano, a.k.a. "Boston Rob", reality TV personality (Survivor/Redemption Island and The Amazing Race)
NFL football player Randy Moss
Paul Revere, Revolutionary
NHL 1986 Stanley Cup Champion Steve Rooney of the Montreal Canadiens
Stephen Schnetzer, actor
James B. Sumner, co-recipient of 1946 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
MLB first baseman and American League MVP Mo Vaughn

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#35 Scituate

The Scituate Lighthouse, erected in 1810 on the northern edge of Scituate Harbor, is a historic tower for this mid-sized seaside community. Ocean-related recreational activities are abundant and its Town Pier accommodates a working fishing fleet for commercial interests. In addition to its seaside adventures, the town has a strong pride in its history and celebrates its founding every August through "Heritage Days"

Scituate by the numbers
Population: 18,133
Median household income: $89,485
Median housing price: $420,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 35
Affordability ranking: 281
Education ranking: 14
Economic condition ranking: 80
Safety ranking: 96
Arts & Culture ranking: 94


Famous people
Rebecca and Abigail Bates, known as the "American Army of Two," fended off the British army near the Scituate lighthouse with a fife and drum during the War of 1812
George W. Casey, Jr., Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Paul Curtis, shipbuilder known for his clipper ships
William Cushing, one of the original six justices on the United States Supreme Court
Ted Donato, Harvard, NHL hockey player
Henry Dunster, first president of Harvard University, Puritan/Baptist minister
Nick Flynn, writer and poet
Jacques Futrelle, journalist, author, who died in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912
Mark Goddard, actor known for his role as "Major Don West" in the series Lost in Space
Mike Hoffman, AHL player for the Chicago Wolves
Inez Haynes Irwin, journalist, author, feminist
Charles Kerins, artist, illustrator, known for Red Sox yearbook covers and paintings of small town American childhood in the 1950s and 1960s.
Bruce Laird, former NFL football player
Thomas W. Lawson, stock promoter, financial reformer
Jim Lonborg, Cy Young Award–winning former Major League Baseball starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox
Joseph D. Malone, former Massachusetts treasurer
Tom McCall, Governor of Oregon from 1966–1974, born in Scituate
John McDonald, shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays
Scott McMorrow, award-winning playwright and poet
Dave Silk, member of the Miracle on Ice 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that won the gold medal
Scott Snibbe, media artist, grew up in Scituate
Peter Tolan, writer, director
Mike Wankum, weatherman for WCVB-TV News Channel
Ryan Whitney, NHL defenseman for the Edmonton Oilers

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#34 Sandwich

Based on the motto is “after so many shipwrecks, a haven,” Sandwich is the site of the Cape Cod Bay entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. In addition to the six beaches alongside Cape Cod Bay, historic homes like the Benjamin Nye Homestead and the Benjamin Holway House are prominent features of the town. Other attractions that lure in visitors include the Heritage Museums and Gardens and the Sandwich Glass Museum. The Sandwich town boardwalk is also a popular site for tourists.

Sandwich by the numbers
Population: 20,675
Median household income: $82,989
Median housing price: $312,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 34
Affordability ranking: 212
Education ranking: 116
Economic condition ranking: 146
Safety ranking: 146
Arts & Culture ranking: 23

Famous people
Bobby Orr, Hall of Fame Boston Bruins Hockey Player, owns a home in Sandwich.
Sam Brown, comedian and writer of the sketch comedy group The Whitest Kids U Know
Charles H. Bridges, Adjutant General of the United States Army from 1928-1933.
Aimee-Lynn Chadwick, actress and musician
Jeffrey Adam "Duff" Goldman, the star of the Food Network's Ace of Cakes, moved to Sandwich as a child.
James Jackson Jarves, was an American newspaper editor, art critic and art collector
Thornton Burgess, conservationist, and author

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#33 Falmouth

Falmouth is a town well known for its warm water beaches, traditional Main Street village with eclectic boutiques, trendy restaurants, and historic village green. The town’s terminal of Steamship Authority ferries allow visitors to travel to Martha’s Vineyard. The village of Woods Hole boasts several scientific organizations as well: the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, The Marine Biological Laboratory, the Woods Hold Research Center, and the National Marine Fisheries Aquariam.   

Falmouth by the numbers
Population: 31,531
Median household income: $61,244
Median housing price: $512,750
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 33
Affordability ranking: 342
Education ranking: 161
Economic condition ranking: 64
Safety ranking: 264
Arts & Culture ranking: 20

Famous people
Ben Affleck, actor and director
Casey Affleck, actor
Katharine Lee Bates, author of "America the Beautiful"
Steve Cishek, relief pitcher for the Miami Marlins
Jim Connors, radio personality
Colleen Coyne, 1998 Olympic gold medalist, in US women's ice hockey
Jacob Sloat Fassett, U.S. Congressman from Elmira, NY; Fassett's Point in West Falmouth and the town of Fassett, Quebec are named after him
Melissa Febos, writer and ex-dominatrix
Bill Polian, President of the Indianapolis Colts, spends his summers in Falmouth

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#32 Quincy

Nicknamed the "City of Presidents," Quincy practically bleeds history.  John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and John Hancock were born and raised in Quincy, where manufacturing has been the backbone of the economy for centuries. Quincy’s granite quarries produced stone from 1825 to 1963, which was used not only to construct the Bunker Hill Monument, but countless buildings in Massachusetts and far beyond. There are too many historic residents to list, but it's safe to say Quincy played a huge role in the birth of America.

Quincy by the numbers

Established: 1792
Population: 92,271
Median household income: 60,947
Median housing price: $300,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 32
Affordability ranking: 309
Education ranking: 246
Economic Condition ranking: 32
Safety ranking: 177
Arts & Culture ranking: 21

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#31 Lynnfield

Initially composed of two separate towns with one central governing body, Lynnfield was incorporated in 1842. The small town experienced a post WW2 population surge with the birth of the U.S. Route 1 freeway. From their beginnings, as a town with two inns, a carbonated beverage bottler, and a handful of food producers, Lynnfield became one of the most prosperous towns in the state.

Lynnfield by the numbers
Population: 11,596
Median household income: $101,921
Median housing price: $422,450
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 31
Affordability ranking: 248
Education ranking: 16
Economic condition ranking: 73
Safety ranking: 262
Arts & Culture ranking: 66

Famous people
Eddie Andelman, former sports talk show host, TV personality and founder of the Hot Dog Safari
Garnet "Ace" Bailey, former Boston Bruins player, killed on 9/11
Johnny Bucyk, former Boston Bruin
Anson Carter, former Bruins player who lived in town while with the team
Jon Casey, former Boston Bruins goaltender
John Connolly, former FBI agent, depicted in the movie The Departed
Billy Costa, host of Boston radio station Kiss 108's morning show Matty in the Morning, also host of New England Cable News TV Diner and of the annual Federal Reserve Cup of Boston
Hank Finkel, former Boston Celtics center
Chris Ford, former Celtics coach and player
Kevin Gamble, former Boston Celtic and director of player development at Providence College
Ken Harrelson, Boston Red Sox outfielder and sportscaster

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#30 Westwood

Westwood is not only a convenient location for residents to travel and commute to Boston but also a beautiful suburban community with top quality schools and numerous recreational facilities. Home to over two hundred businesses, retail and service establishments, shopping areas, and corporate offices are located in various commercial areas. The town’s commercial real estate base is being transformed by the University Service Project, a 2.3 million square foot retail, office, and residential area located next to a major railway station.

Westwood by the numbers
Population: 14,618
Median household income: $120,078
Median housing price: $515,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 30
Affordability ranking: 264
Education ranking: 5
Economic condition ranking: 37
Safety ranking: 77
Arts & Culture ranking: 89

Famous people
Dicky Barrett - lead singer of the ska-core band the Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Bishop Christopher Coyne - Served as parish priest of St. Margaret Mary Church
Jon Finn - guitarist, rock musician
Kenny Florian - Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter
John Harrington - former CEO of the Boston Red Sox
Matt Hasselback - NFL quarterback
Peter S. Pezzati - portrait painter
Barry Reed - American trial lawyer and bestselling author
Robert B. Rheault - American military officer and commander of all US Army Special Forces in Vietnam in 1969
Milt Schmidt- former Boston Bruin and hockey hall of famer
Fern Flaman - former Boston Bruin and Toronto Maple Leaf. Stanley Cup winner and Hall of Famer
Robert Steele (drum major) - drummer boy for the Continental Army during the Battle of Bunker Hill of the Revolutionary War; buried in the Old Westwood Cemetery.
Mike Woicik - Strength and conditioning coach for the New England Patriots, and the only person with six Super Bowl rings

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#29 Harvard

In the past, Harvard was home to many various utopian and new-thought societies. Today, it is home to the Fruitlands Museum, which was originally the Harvard Shaker Village. Originally a farming community, the town remains rural, with woods, small rolling hills, fields and wetlands. Along with its delicious apple orchards, Harvard also has a highly regarded school system.

Harvard by the numbers
Established: 1732
Population: 6,520
Median household income: $142,411
Median housing price: $530,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 29
Affordability ranking: 213
Education ranking: 6
Economic condition ranking: 26
Safety ranking: 42
Arts & Culture ranking: 90

Famous people
Amos Bronson Alcott, teacher, writer and Louisa May Alcott, novelist, daughter of Amos Alcott
Tabitha Babbitt, tool maker
Adam Dziewonski, geophysicist
Jonathan Edwards, musician
Fannie Farmer, cookbook author
Lynn Jennings, Olympic runner
Charles Lane, Transcendentalist
Ann Lee, Shaker founder
Keir O'Donnell, Australian actor
Clara Endicott Sears, founder of Fruitlands Museum
Ted Sizer, educational reform leader

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#28 Belmont

At first an agrarian town with several large farms, Belmont has developed into a primarily residential suburb that is best known for its mansion-filled Belmont Hill neighborhood. Three major commercial centers of Belmont Center, Cushing Square, and Waverley Square also fill the town with businesses and attractions. Belmont is also home to Belmont Hill School, alma mater of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his son, Patriots President Jonathan Kraft.

Belmont by the numbers
Population: 24,729
Median household income: $99,529
Median housing price: $591,000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 28
Affordability ranking: 326
Education ranking: 3
Economic condition ranking: 49
Safety ranking: 91
Arts & Culture ranking: 88

Famous people
Founder of MAPS Rick Doblin
China trader John Perkins Cushing and Denise Lam
Businessman and philanthropist Stephen P. Mugar, founder of the Star Market chain
Sugar Daddy inventor and John Birch Society founder Robert W. Welch, Jr.
Politics and government[edit]
Former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney
State Senator Will Brownsberger (D-MA)
Painter Winslow Homer
Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted
Musician Seth Justman of The J. Geils Band
Composer Walter Piston
Composer Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma
Singer-songwriter and guitarist James Taylor
Actress Jean Rogers
Tom Bergeron - Radio and TV personality
David E. Kelley- TV producer and writer
Addison Powell - Actor
Jean Rogers- Actress
Major League pitcher, Red Sox and White Sox Wilbur Wood
Major League catcher/Hall of Famer, Red Sox and White Sox Carlton Fisk
Major League baseball player and two time NL MVP, Dale Murphy
Red Sox pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee
New York Rangers defenseman Paul Mara
New York Rangers Forward Patrick Rissmiller
Author Leah Hager Cohen
Author Tom Perrotta
Author William Dean Howells
Author/journalist Sebastian Junger
Author and educator Gerald Warner Brace
Author and psychologist William Damon
Author/explorer/photographer Bradford Washburn
MIT systems scientist and entrepreneur VA Shiva Ayyadurai (born 1963). Invented email in 1978 at the age of 14
American professor and legal scholar William P. Alford
Physicist Albert Baez, and his daughters folksingers Joan Baez and Mimi Farina
Harvard Business School professor and author Clayton M. Christensen
Engineer Vannevar Bush
Brigham Young University-Idaho President and Harvard Business School Dean Kim B. Clark
Roman Catholic bishop Thomas Vose Daily
Scientist and photographer Harold "Doc" Edgerton
Professor Martin Feldstein, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
Molecular biologist H. Gobind Khorana, Nobel Prize 1968 - Medicine
Harvard professor Andrew Knoll -- Wollaston Medal 2007
Scientist/inventor/author Nathan Cohen
Theoretical physicist Francis E. Low
Reformationist scholar and novelist Richard Marius
MIT economics professor Franco Modigliani, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, 1985
Philosopher Robert Nozick
Professor Edwin O. Reischauer, East Asia scholar and Ambassador to Japan
Albert Sacco, astronaut and chemical engineer
Economist Paul A. Samuelson, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, 1970
HUAC victim and MIT mathematician Dirk Jan Struik
Computer scientist Leslie Valiant
Mathematician Norbert Wiener
Organic chemist Robert Burns Woodward -- Nobel Prize 1965 - Chemistry
Astronomer Fred Lawrence Whipple
Paul Dudley White, founder of American Heart Association
Bach scholar Christoph Wolff
Jay O. Light, Former Dean of the Harvard Business School

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#27 Newton

Settled in 1630, "The Garden City" is made up of fourteen villages, with many different downtowns. The Boston suburb is dedicated to education, open spaces and community life.
Newton is no doubt an intellectual center, home to Perkins School for the Blind and three colleges including Boston College. Residents are also privileged to witness the oldest annual marathon on Patriot's Day, the Boston Marathon, and to read up on their history thanks to the comprehensive Newton Free Library.

Newton by the numbers
Established: 1688
Population: 85,146
Median household income: $109,724
Median housing price: $643,500
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 27
Affordability ranking: 324
Education ranking: 24
Economic condition ranking: 27
Safety ranking: 83
Arts & Culture ranking: 151

Famous people
The list of Newton's famous residents is more than 100 esteemed and fascinating people long.

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#26 Cohasset

With no divided highway running through the town, Route 3A is the longest state route for Cohasset, and it bisects the town to provide a site for various large and small businesses. Cohasset's central village is located around an expansive space that includes small ponds, speciality shops, and St. Stephen's Church, which is known for its Sunday concerts of 56 bell carillon.

Cohasset by the numbers
Population: 7,542
Median household income: $117,831
Median housing price: $602,500
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 26
Affordability ranking: 301
Education ranking: 10
Economic condition ranking: 22
Safety ranking: 85
Arts & Culture ranking: 92

Famous people
Kate Bosworth, Actress
Michael Kennedy,son of Robert F. Kennedy, nephew of President John F. Kennedy
Brooks Orpik, NHL ice hockey player
Zealous Bates Tower, Union army general
Steve Bowen, US Navy submariner and NASA astronaut
Lincoln P. Bloomfield professor emeritus MIT, Political Science
Larry Eisenhauer, former professional football player
Lance Norris, Actor, writer, director
Walt Sweeney, former professional football player
Albert Augustus Pope, Industrialist, founder of Columbia Bicycles and the Pope-Hartford automobile
Anthony DiPaolo, businessman, entrepreneur, founder of Work 'N Gear
Dr. Robert Sceery, was school physician in Cohasset for more than 40 years. Known for his quiet manner, he made house calls and saw patients regardless of their ability to pay. Although retired for several years, Sceery saw occasional patients and attended weekly rounds at Massachusetts General Hospital. During World War II he joined the Navy, piloting a tank landing ship to Normandy beach on D-Day and participating in assaults on southern France and Japan.

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#25 Westford

Incorporated in 1729, Westford is a charming town covered by rolling hills, lakes, and apple orchards. Originally famous for its farms and woolen mills, Westford is now mostly a bedroom community committed to the progress of high tech. Every May, the town has an Apple Blossom Festival with a parade and the crowning of an apple blossom queen. In June, the Strawberry Festival features a wonderful craft fair and strawberry shortcake.

Westford by the numbers
Population: 21,951
Median household income: $119,511
Median housing price: $381,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 25
Affordability ranking: 138
Education ranking: 8
Economic condition ranking: 51
Safety ranking: 36
Arts & Culture ranking: 91

Famous people
Joel Abbot, noted naval officer
Pat Bradley, Member of World Golf Hall of Fame
Jackie MacMullan, sportswriter
Lt. Col. John Robinson, Revolutionary War soldier
Aaron Stanford, actor
Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards, creator of the field of home economics, first woman admitted to MIT, co-founder of American Association of University Women
Tommy Severo, Comedian / Winner of television's "Beauty and the Geek"
Michael Fucito, Major League Soccer player, first drafted by the Seattle Sounders FC, currently plays for Sacramento FC.

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#24 Natick

Natick takes its name from on its original settlement on South Natick’s hilly landscape. Natick was primarily a farming town before the invention of the sewing in 1858. Every year on Patriot’s Day, thousands of residents and visitors come to watch miles 8 through 12 of the Boston Marathon, which run through the town. It is also home to one of the oldest operating ten-stool diners in the U.S. - Casey’s Diner, which is famous for its steamed hot dogs.  

Natick by the numbers
Population: 33,006
Median household income: $90,046
Median housing price: $370,000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 24
Affordability ranking: 243
Education ranking: 29
Economic condition ranking: 110
Safety ranking: 208
Arts & Culture ranking: 68

Famous people
Horatio Alger, Jr., minister, author of children's books with a rags to riches theme, settled in Natick in 1860 and built his family home in South Natick
Thomas S. Allen, American composer and lyricist of musicals including Falsettos and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
James Bamford, author, journalist who writes about the world of United States intelligence agencies
John Carlson, NHL player for the Washington Capitals
William Finn, Tony-winning composer and lyricist of musicals including Falsettos and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Keene Fitzpatrick, legendary track coach at Yale, Michigan and Princeton, 1890–1932
Jorssen Flurgen, Consultant to NAPI Farm Operations, Discovered largest ever cache of Navaho artifacts, 2012
Darren Flutie, CFL and NFL veteran who attended Natick High School before going to Boston College; 2nd all time in receptions in the CFL. CFL Hall of Famer
Doug Flutie, NFL and CFL veteran who attended high school in Natick, before going to Boston College; retired from the New England Patriots after the 2005–06 season; resides in Natick, 50th Heisman Trophy winner; also played for many other NFL teams, including the Buffalo Bills
Alison Fraser, Broadway performer and two-time Tony Award nominee grew up in Natick; graduated from Natick High School (1973)
Alfred S. Hartwell, commanded the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, sister regiment of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, during the Civil War. He led Union troops into Charleston, South Carolina when it fell and worked for the Freedman's Bureau. Moved to the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1868 and was appointed Chief Justice of the Hawaiian Supreme Court.
Walt Hriniak, briefly a Major League Baseball player and, more notably, a prominent batting coach.
Joseph Keefe, longest serving Natick Public Schools superintendent (1976-1995) and community activist.
Harold Kushner, rabbi and author of many books, especially known for When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
Harvey Leonard, chief meteorologist for WCVB-TV
Meg Mallon, professional golfer on the LPGA Tour and twice winner of the U.S. Women's Open
William Nutt, moved to Natick in 1856, went to Kansas to oppose pro-slave forces there in 1858 and was an organizer of the Natick Shoe Strike in 1860. Served with the 55th Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War and rose to the rank of Colonel.
Michael Owen former principal dancer, American Ballet Theatre
Rob Patterson, former guitarist for Otep, touring guitarist for Korn, currently[when?] the guitarist for Filter (band) and engaged to Carmen Electra
Rene Rancourt, professional singer, sings the national anthem at all home Boston Bruins hockey games.
Jonathan Richman, proto-punk rock icon and founder of The Modern Lovers
Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American author and abolitionist, whose novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) attacked the cruelty of slavery and received world-wide acclaim. Her novel "Old Town Folks" was written while she was living in Natick and tells the story of her husband's family.
Alexander Wheelock Thayer, United States consul at Trieste in 1859 and author of a biography of Ludwig van Beethoven published in 1866
Waban, 17th-century tribal chief
Sara Whalen, Olympic soccer silver medalist
Henry Wilson, the eighteenth Vice President of the United States, lived at 33 West Central Street and worked as a shoemaker at his shoe shop at 181 West Central Street.

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#23 Andover

Perhaps most known for having one of the oldest and most prestigious independent secondary "prep" schools in the U.S. - Phillips Academy, Andover prides itself for its high quality schools and active community life. The town doesn't fall short in cultural attractions like canoeing along the Shawsheen River and horseback riding in Harold Parker State Forest. The town has truly evolved into a highly desirable community for anyone who enters its borders.

Andover by the numbers
Population: 33,201
Median household income: $113,936
Median housing price: $414,500
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 23
Affordability ranking: 200
Education ranking: 20
Economic condition ranking: 46
Safety ranking: 56
Arts & Culture ranking: 67

Famous people
Abiel Abbot, Massachusetts clergyman and author
Benjamin Abbot, teacher at Phillips Academy
Amos Abbott, United States Congressman from Massachusetts
John Adams, teacher at Phillips Academy from 1810 through 1832
Harriette Newell Woods Baker, authoress, over 200 short stories
Anne Bradstreet, 17th-century poet
Lorraine Broderick, Emmy-award winning writer
Bill Buckner, former Red Sox player
Steven T. Byington, American individualist anarchist
Sumner Carruth, Civil War officer
Mike Mullen, United States Navy Admiral
Michael Casey, poet
Michael Chiklis, actor, The Shield
Andrew Coburn, author
Bill Cunliffe, Grammy Award winning composer, arranger, jazz pianist
Buddy Farnham, wide receiver for the New England Patriots
Barry Finegold, member of the Mass. House of Representatives (served 1996–present)
Dudley Fitts, educator, critic, poet and translator
Abiel Foster, clergyman and United States Congressman from New Hampshire
Joseph Frye, brigadier general in the Continental Army
Kara Hayward, actress known for the movie Moonrise Kingdom
Jeremiah Ingalls, early American folk composer
Martin Johnson, lead vocalist and guitarist for band Boys Like Girls
Priscilla Lane, actress, Arsenic and Old Lace
Jonathan Leavitt, founder, early New York City publishing house
Jay Leno, entertainer, The Tonight Show
Jim Loscutoff, former Boston Celtics player
Paul Monette, prize-winning author
Mary McGarry Morris, prize-winning authoress
Marcus Morton (jurist), Chief Justice(1882–1890) of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Samuel Osgood, United States Postmaster General under President George Washington
Salem Poor, freed slave of Andover and Revolutionary War soldier
Jenny Powers, actress on Broadway
Jim Rice, left fielder for the Boston Red Sox
Blanchard Ryan, actress, Open Water
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, nineteenth-century author
Samuel Francis Smith, wrote America while a student at Andover Theological Seminary
Harriet Beecher Stowe, buried in Andover
George L. Street, III, World War II winner of Medal of Honor
Susan Tucker, recent member of the Mass. House of Representatives the Mass. Senate
Robert Urich, actor known for the TV series Vega$ and Spenser for Hire
Ryan Hanigan, current Cincinnatti Reds catcher

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#22 Arlington

To honor those buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington was given its new name in 1867. Thrived as a farming community in its early years, the town is quite rich in history. It is not only the site of  Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride to alert colonists during the American Revolution but also the location of Jason Russell House, a yellow colonial that today functions as a museum to remember twelve Americans who were killed in this this dwelling.

Arlington by the numbers
Population: 42,844
Median household income: $85,059
Median housing price: $433,500
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 22
Affordability ranking: 309
Education ranking: 39
Economic condition ranking: 121
Safety ranking: 106
Arts & Culture ranking: 42

Famous people
Nate "Tiny" Archibald, guard for the Boston Celtics (1978–1983)
Sven Birkerts, essayist and literary critic
Paul Boudreau, current NFL Offensive Line coach for the St. Louis Ram
Michael Bowman, actor Me, Myself and Irene
John Quincy Adams Brackett, Former Massachusetts Governor
William Stanley Braithwaite, writer, poet and literary critic. Won Spingarn Medal in 1918
Christopher Castellani, writer
Andrew Chaikin, space journalist and author of A Man on the Moon, on which HBO based a miniseries
Haroutioun Hovanes Chakmakjian, chemistry professor, Armenian scholar, and father of Alan Hovhaness
Dane Cook, comedian & actor
Robert Creeley, poet
Cyrus E. Dallin, sculptor, best known for the Appeal to the Great Spirit sculpture in front of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Adio diBiccari, sculptor
Joshua Eric Dodge, Wisconsin Supreme Court
Olympia Dukakis, actress, Academy Award winner
Bob Frankston, co-inventor of Visicalc, the first electronic spreadsheet
Roy J. Glauber, Nobel Prize winner (Physics), 2005
Katy Grannan, photographer
George Franklin Grant, first black graduate of Harvard Dental School and inventor of a type of golf tee
Deborah Henson-Conant, Grammy-nominated harpist
Mike Holovak, former quarterback with the Boston Patriots
Alan Hovhaness, composer
Timothy Hutton, Actor, youngest winner of an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
John A. "Johnny" Kelley, Boston Marathon winner, 1935 and 1945, Olympian athlete
Richard Lennon, Roman Catholic bishop
J. C. R. Licklider, computer scientist
William J. McCarthy, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)
Eugene Francis McGurl, US Army Air Forces 95th Bomb Sq., 17th Bomb Grp Navigator who flew with Crew 5 in General Jimmy Doolittle's famous "Thirty Seconds over Tokyo" raid in World War II.
Tom McNeeley, Jr., former heavyweight contender who challenged Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight title in Toronto in 1961
Eileen Myles, poet, novelist
John Francis Paramino, sculptor, best known for "The Founder's Memorial" in Boston Common, commissioned for Boston's tercentenary
Andy Powers, former Boston College hockey player and minor league hockey player
David Powers, former Special Assistant to US President John F. Kennedy
Herb Reed, vocalist and founding member of The Platters
Ron Rivest, cryptographer
Bill Robertie, backgammon, chess and poker player and author
Dave "Chico" Ryan, bassist of Sha Na Na
Whitney Smith, vexillologist and designer of the flag of Guyana.
Chris Smither, blues guitarist/singer
Mark J. Sullivan, Director of the United States Secret Service
John Townsend Trowbridge, writer
Samuel Whittemore, elderly soldier in the Battle of Lexington and Concord
Alan Wilson (musician), also known as Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson; singer, songwriter, leader of Canned Heat
Samuel Wilson, meat-packer, namesake of "Uncle Sam"
Tom Yewcic, former quarterback with the Boston Patriots from 1961–66, and former catcher for the Detroit Tigers; only person ever to play two professional sports at Fenway Park

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#21 Duxbury

Until the mid-nineteenth century, Duxbury was a center of shipbuilding for its proximity to the Atlantic coast in Plymouth County. Today, along with being famous for its oysters, the town is the sixth largest cranberry producer in the state. Its coastal location creates a vibrant character for the community with recreational spots like Duxbury beach and Snug Harbor on Duxbury Bay, one of the most charming boat basins on the Massachusetts coast.  

Duxbury by the numbers
Population: 15,059
Median household income: $122,396
Median housing price: $414,500
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 21
Affordability ranking: 163
Education ranking: 126
Economic condition ranking: 30
Safety ranking: 22
Arts & Culture ranking: 51

Famous people
Ichabod Alden, officer in the American Revolution
John Alden, a Mayflower immigrant and one of the founders of Duxbu
Love Brewster, a founder of the town of Duxbury
Elder William Brewster, the Pilgrim leader and spiritual elder of the Plymouth Colony and a passenger on the Mayflower. He was also and one of the founders of Duxbury.
Bill Curley, former NBA center for San Antonio Spurs basketball team
Captain Amasa Delano, Captain of the 19th century merchant ship Bachelors Delight
Bobby Farrelly, screenwriter, director; with brother Peter wrote and directed popular films including Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary, and Shallow Hal
Juliana Hatfield, indie rock singer
Pat Leahy, NHL hockey player for the Boston Bruins
Philip Parlier, Major League Baseball Former player for the Cincinnati Reds
George Partridge, representative to Continental Congress and the First United States Congress
Joe Perry, guitarist for Aerosmith
George Soule, a Mayflower Pilgrim, signer of the Mayflower Compact and one of the founders of Duxbury
Captain/Deputy Governor Myles Standish, Mayflower settler and founder of Duxbury
Mike Sullivan, former coach of the Boston Bruins
Don Leeroy Webber, All-American Wide Receiver
Zack Lenhardt, NASA

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#20 Acton

Incorporated as a town in 1735, Acton is a suburban town that employed the Open Town Meeting form of government. The town has five villages centers with the Acton Center establishing itself as a civic center since the revolution. The other four villages centers  - West, South, North, and East Acton - earned their names from the names of their corresponding railroad station.  

Acton by the numbers
Population: 21,924
Median household income: $109,491
Median housing price: $366,3000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 20
Affordability ranking: 195
Education ranking: 27
Economic condition ranking: 168
Safety ranking: 87
Arts & Culture ranking: 41

Famous people
Tom Barrasso, NHL professional hockey player, graduated from Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in 1983
Bob Brooke, NHL professional hockey player
James Brown, co-founder of Little, Brown and Company publisher
Steve Carell, comedic actor, grew up in South Acton
Howie Carr, talk-radio personality
Robert Creeley, poet, grew up in West Acton
Isaac Davis, Captain of the Acton Minutemen at the Old North Bridge in Concord at the Battle of Lexington and Concord; the first officer to die in the American Revolution
Dan Duquette, former general manager of the Boston Red Sox and current general manager of the Baltimore Orioles
Henry Durant, Congregational clergyman, first president of College of California, two-term mayor of Oakland, California
Christian Finnegan, comedian, grew up in the Forest Glen neighborhood of West Acton in the 1980s
Mary Josephine Hannon, maternal grandmother of President John F. Kennedy
Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox
Jesse Lauriston Livermore, famous early 20th century stock trader
Selina Maitreya, international photography consultant and author
Ian Moran, NHL professional hockey player
Bill Morrissey, Folk music singer/songwriter, graduated ABRHS in 1969
Dr. John "Dropkick" Murphy circa 1910–1975 wrestler, boxer, podiatrist, and Bellows Farm Sanatorium owner namesake of the Boston based band Dropkick Murphys.
Jeff Norton, NHL professional hockey player
Caroll Spinney, puppeteer who created the Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch
Evelyn Stevens, professional road cyclist, grew up in Acton, graduated from Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in 2001.
Kate Whoriskey, artistic director of Intiman Theatre in Seattle, WA

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#19 Newburyport

A small coastal city in Essex County, Newburyport is known for its historic seaport that cultivates a significant tourist population. Annual events like Waterfront Concert Series and Newburyport Literary Festival attract the attention of residents and tourists alike. The Yankee Homecoming festival held every summer celebrates the coming home of natives to Newburyport and is the second oldest homecoming festival in the United States.

Newburyport by the numbers
Population: 17,416
Median household income: $80,861
Median housing price: $376,000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 19
Affordability ranking: 283
Education ranking: 57
Economic condition ranking: 142
Safety ranking: 119
Arts & Culture ranking: 32

Famous people
Raymond Abbott, author
John Quincy Adams, U.S. president
Caleb Cushing, diplomat and politician
"Lord" Timothy Dexter, eccentric
Andre Dubus III, novelist
William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist
Adolphus Greely, polar explorer
Charles Tillinghast James, mechanical engineer, designer, senator
Rufus King, diplomat and politician
Thomas B. Lawson, artist
Francis Cabot Lowell, manufacturer
John Lowell, congressman and federal judge
John P. Marquand, author
Donald McKay, shipbuilder
Johnny Messner, actor
Robert S. Mulliken, recipient of 1966 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Theophilus Parsons, jurist
James Parton, biographer
Edmund Pearson, librarian and true crime writer
Jacob Perkins, early American inventor
Timothy Pilsbury, congressman from Texas
Harriet Prescott Spofford, writer
Charles A. Spring, influential Presbyterian leader in Iowa and Illinois
Rev. Gardiner Spring, author of the Gardiner Spring Resolutions, which gained Abraham Lincoln the support of the Presbyterian Church
Rev. Samuel Spring, religious leader, chaplain in Benedict Arnold's army
Matthew Thornton, signer of the Declaration of Independence
William S. Tilton, Civil War brigade commander at the Battle of Gettysburg
Peter Tolan, television/film producer and writer
William Wheelwright, sea captain, US consul in Chile, steamship and railroad promoter in South America

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#18 Manchester by the Sea

For its first 200 years Manchester by the Sea thrived as a fishing community until 1845 when  it became the summer home destination of choice for Boston’s wealthy elite. This trend was bolstered by the efforts of famous architects, who constructed homes in the area. One mile from the town center is Singing Beach, so named because of the squeaking symphony the sand makes when walked upon. Also on this beach is “Eaglehead” a massive rock that is a focal point for rock climbing and other recreational activities.

Manchester By The Sea by the numbers
Population: 5,136
Median household income: $114,639
Median housing price: $288,369

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 18
Affordability ranking: 38
Education ranking: 1
Economic condition ranking: 12
Safety ranking: 16
Arts & Culture ranking: 147

Famous people
Nat Faxon, comedian and Oscar winner for adapted screenplay for The Descendants at the 84th Academy Awards
Josh Gates, host of Destination Truth—former resident
Sprague Grayden, actress
Henry Northey Hooper, a founder of the sugar industry in Hawaii
William Northey Hooper, manufacturer and Boston politician
Joe Lloyd, professional golfer
James McMillan, Michigan senator instrumental in the design of the Washington Mall, died (1902) at his summer home in Manchester
Susan Minot, author
Ray Ozzie, software entrepreneur
George Putnam III, trustee of Putnam Investments
Gardner Read, composer (1913–2005)
Jay Severin, radio talk show host
Josiah Spaulding, businessman, attorney, and politician; chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party from 1965-1970

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#17 Winchester

Just 8 miles north of Boston, Winchester offers a traditional New England lifestyle. With its charming downtown center, the town is largely a residential community for people who work in Boston and Cambridge. In the summer, the Winchester Boat Club is a popular spot of local residents and their families to relax at the Mystic Lakes and enjoy the sun. In the past the boat club was popular for canoeing, but it now has more casual sailing outings and competitive regattas.   

Winchester by the numbers
Established: 1640
Population: 21, 374
Median household income: $127,665
Median housing price: $607,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 17
Affordability ranking: 280
Education ranking: 11
Economic Condition ranking: 14
Safety ranking: 64
Arts & Culture ranking: 65

Famous people

Winchester boasts more than 30 famous residents, including Edward Everett, former Governor of Massachusetts and President of Harvard University.  Robert Brown, President of Boston University.

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#16 Hingham

Approximately 15 miles south of Boston lies the town of Hingham. The immaculately kept antique houses - one of which includes the "Old Ordinary" on Lincoln Street - define the community's past colonial history. And as a town located on the South Shore of Massachusetts, the 21 miles of shoreline is a perfect site for recreational activities. The harbor provides safe anchorage for pleasure boats and World’s End reservation area provides unsurpassed views from its hills to Boston and beyond. Lower Main Street near Hingham Square is home to The Old Ship Church – a church fashioned by Hingham’s shipwrights in 1681 and still serves as a Meeting House, and is National Historic Landmark. It is the only Meeting House built in the 17th century in the United States that still exists.

Hingham by the numbers
Population: 22,157
Median household income: $99,318
Median housing price: $595,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 16
Affordability ranking: 325
Education ranking: 9
Economic condition ranking: 40
Safety ranking: 141
Arts & Culture ranking: 64

Famous people
Bobby Allen, Providence Bruins AHL player
Tony Amonte, National Hockey League (NHL) player
John F. Andrew, 19th century United States Congressman
Issachar Bates, prominent Shaker composer and church leader, was born in Hingham in 1758
Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots professional football team
Brian Boyle, New York Rangers NHL player
Andy Brickley, former NHL player
Marc Brown, children's author known primarily for the Arthur series of picture books (and related TV show)
Prescott Bush Jr., brother of 41st President George H.W. Bush and Uncle of 43rd President George W. Bush
Fox Butterfield, wrote for the New York Times
Ken Casey, bassist and co-lead vocalist of the Irish punk rock group Dropkick Murphys
William Orcutt Cushing, Unitarian minister and hymn writer
Herbert L. Foss, recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Spanish-American War
Bob Graham, former U.S. senator from Florida
Kelly Amonte Hiller, Northwestern University women's lacrosse coach, 5-time NCAA champions
Capt. Joshua Hobart, Hingham representative to the Massachusetts General Court and Deputy for 25 years, Speaker of the House, member, Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company
Rev. Peter Hobart, founding minister, Hingham's First Parish Church, later Old Ship Church[
Elisha Leavitt, Tory whose invitation to British forces to use his Grape Island sparked early Revolutionary War skirmish
John Leavitt, early Hingham settler, deacon, Old Ship Church, namesake of Hingham's Leavitt Street
Josiah Leavitt, physician and inventor
General Benjamin Lincoln, Revolutionary War general, Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
Levi Lincoln, Sr., United States Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
Samuel Lincoln, weaver's apprentice, ancestor of President Abraham Lincoln
Mary Hawke Thaxter, descendant of Hingham settlers, born in Hingham and mother of John Hancock
Sean McDonough, TV sportscaster
Marty McInnis, NHL player
Suzanne Parsons, player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
Rev. Robert Peck, clergyman, and was a founder of the town of Hingham, Massachusetts.
Judson Pratt, actor
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe sports writer and editor
David Silk, NHL player
Frank Spaziani, former head coach of the Boston College Eagles football team
Isaac Sprague, the best-known American botanical illustrator in the 1800s
The Unseen, punk rock group
Tim Wakefield, knuckleball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox baseball team
Roger Noble Burnham, sculptor. He designed and sculpted the Tommy Trojan statue for University of Southern California
Caroline Blake, WNBA player

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#15 Concord

Well-deserved for its lovely looks and alluring historic site, Concord has an indisputable transcendent nature. The beautiful woods and fields and streams and ponds were once home and inspiration to so many Transcendentalists. Henry James called the town “the biggest little place in America” because of its prominent literary figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Louisa May Alcott.

Concord by the numbers
Established: 1635
Population: 17,668
Median household income: $127,951
Median housing price: $700,000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 15
Affordability ranking: 315
Education ranking: 34
Economic condition ranking: 24
Safety ranking: 67
Arts & Culture ranking: 31
 
Famous people
Concord's list of famous residents is more than 100 long, and includes the writers/philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau among others.

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#14 Amherst

Home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst consistently ranks as one of the most progressively liberal regions because of its large student population. The saying "only the h is silent" references to the town's pronunciation and its politically active community. Downtown Amherst is also an exciting destination where people can stroll down, eat, and shop.

Amherst by the numbers
Established:1759
Population: 37,819
Median household income: $52,281
Median housing price: $296,950
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 14
Affordability ranking: 334
Education ranking: 141
Economic condition ranking: 347
Safety ranking: 78
Arts & Culture ranking: 10

Famous people
Amherst is home to more than 100 famous residents, including Emily Dickinson, one of the most prominent and celebrated American poet, Robert Frost, Pulitzer prize-winning poet who taught at Amherst College and retired there, and Noah Webster, Author of An American Dictionary of the English Language.

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#13 Brookline

Brookline offers residents and visitors alike a charming mix of vibrant urban life and suburban amenities. Cultural institutions such as the Kennedy National Historic site, Allandale Farm, and the Coolidge Corner Theater can be visited as well. The Brookline Village is the place of the town’s earliest restaurants and shops. Coolidge Corner is the town’s bustling commercial hub with a variety of local shops, small boutiques, and delicious restaurants.

Brookline by the numbers
Established: 1705
Population: 57,732
Median household income: $97,250
Median housing price: $537,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 13
Affordability ranking: 312
Education ranking: 30
Economic Condition ranking: 34
Safety ranking: 123
Arts & Culture ranking: 52

Famous people

Brookline boasts more than one hundred residents of renown, from President John F. Kennedy to television comedian Conan O'Brien.

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#12 Salem

Featured as the main setting in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Salem and its identity are tied to the 1692 Salem witch trials. The city's scary past is what attracts tourists to visit and see the many important historical sites, museums, and witch-themed attractions. Other tourist attractions include the Salem Willows amusement park and the Pioneer Village, America's first living history museum.

Salem by the numbers
Population: 41,340
Median household income: $56,203
Median housing price: $230,280

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 12
Affordability ranking: 268
Education ranking: 329
Economic condition ranking: 305
Safety ranking: 224
Arts & Culture ranking: 4

Famous people
Nehemiah Adams, clergyman and author
Alexander Graham Bell , inventor of telephone
Frank Weston Benson, impressionist artist
John Prentiss Benson, architect and maritime artist
William Bentley, Unitarian minister, Salem diarist
Nathaniel Bowditch, mathematician and navigator
Rick Brunson, former NBA player
Timothy Burgess, entomologist and zoologist
Laurie Cabot, Witchcraft high priestess and author
Robert Ellis Cahill, sheriff, historian and author
Roger Conant, founder of Salem
Crowninshield family, Boston Brahmins who later helped settle Salem
Elias Hasket Derby, merchant, first millionaire
Joseph Horace Eaton, artist and military officer
John Endecott, governor
Thomas Gardner, co-founder of Salem
John Hathorne, the "Hanging Judge" in Salem witch trials
William Hathorne, early businessman and political leader
Nathaniel Hawthorne, writer
Jeff Juden, major league baseball pitcher
Frederick W. Lander, Civil War general, wagon trail and railroad surveyor, poet
John Larch, actor
Dudley Leavitt , early Harvard-educated Congregational minister,New Hampshire native, married to Mary Pickering,Salem's Leavitt Street named for him
Mary Lou Lord, singer/songwriter; grew up in Salem
Samuel McIntire, architect and woodcarver
Rob Oppenheim, professional golfer
Charles Grafton Page, electrical inventor
George Swinnerton Parker, founder of Parker Brothers
Samuel Parris, minister
Timothy Pickering, secretary of state
Benjamin Pickman, early Salem merchant for whom Salem's Pickman Street is named
Dudley Leavitt Pickman, state legislator, Salem merchant, partner, Devereux, Pickman & Silsbee, wealthiest Salem merchant of his day
Sarah Parker Remond, abolitionist
Ernest R. Redmond, United States Army officer and Chief of the National Guard Bureau
Aaron Richmond, impresario and artist manager
Brian St. Pierre, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers
Samuel Sewall, magistrate
Samuel Skelton, first pastor of the First Church in Salem, the original Puritan church in North America
Steve Thomas, former host of PBS's This Old House
Bob Vila, craftsman
Thomas A. Watson, assistant to Alexander Graham Bell, his name was the first phrase ever uttered over a telephone.
Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric; grew up in Salem and attended Salem High School
Roger Williams, theologian

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#11 Chatham

Although small, Chatham boasts many noteworthy landmarks including the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Monomoy Theatre, and the Chatham Lighthouse. Chatham continues to wage an admirable war against urban sprawl, and has managed to maintain a quaint Main Street lined with family-owned and operated shops and restaurants. An empty Chatham during the winter months becomes busier in the summer when tourists and second home owners flock to the area.

Chatham by the numbers
Population: 6,125
Median household income: $69,325
Median housing price: $516,000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 11
Affordability ranking: 340
Education ranking: 31
Economic condition ranking: 200
Safety ranking: 233
Arts & Culture ranking: 15
 
Famous people
Zered Bassett, pro skateboarder, grew up in Chatham
Shirley Booth, actress
Bernard Cornwell, best selling author
Franklin Cover, late actor
Todd Eldredge, champion figure skater
Lisa Genova, best selling Author
Bobby Hackett, musician
Julie Harris, actress
Joseph C. Lincoln, author of Cape Cod Stories
Joseph Lord, Puritan pastor
Sandra Day O'Connor, Supreme Court Justice; has a residence in Chatham
Sara Pennypacker, children's book author
Christopher Seufert, film director/photographer
Archelaus Smith, Nova Scotia pioneer
Bob Staake, cartoonist & illustrator
Tisquantum died in Chatham, MA and is buried in an unmarked grave on Burial Hill, overlooking Ryder's Cove.
Harry Connick Jr., actor and singer

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#10 Brewster

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History and the 50,000-volume Brewster Ladies' Library are amongst educational resources in this fine New England town. The town is small, but boasts several records in the "big" category -- it is home to the largest pond and forest on Cape Cod, and it is the location where the largest freshwater largemouth bass was caught--Brewster took the lead for this victory in 1999, and holds it to this day.

Brewster by the numbers
Established: 1803
Population: 9820
Median household income: $59,231
Median housing price:  $300,000
 
2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 10
Affordability ranking: 292
Education ranking: 92
Economic condition ranking: 72
Safety ranking: 157
Arts & Culture ranking: 11

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#9 Worcester

A five-time recipient of the All-American City Award, Worcester offers its residents the resources and exciting attractions of a metropolis, balanced with the more intimate, livable scale of a mid-size city.  The city's colleges (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Holy Cross, UMass Medical, Clark, and Assumption, among others) contribute to the city's nightlife, vibrant arts community and scientific innovation.  From the Hanover Theatre to the Worcester Arts Museum to Mechanics Hall and the DCU Center, Worcester has cultural options for every taste.  

Worcester by the numbers
Established: 1722
Population: 181,045
Median household income: $45,846
Median housing price: $117,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 9
Affordability ranking: 59
Education ranking: 342
Economic condition ranking: 345
Safety ranking: 276
Arts & Culture ranking: 8

Famous people
Albert Abraham Michelson, First American to receive Nobel Prize in Physics
Alivia Witt, Actress on Sopranos
Harvey Ball, Inventor of the smiley face
Alisan Porter Actress
Alva 'Al' Javery, Former MLB player
Andrea Ajemain, Actress
Anthony Molinari, Hollywood stuntman
Arthur Kennedy, Tony Award winner, Academy Award nominee
Bethany Veney, Pianist
Bill Guerin, US Olympic Hockey team member
Bob Cousy, Former Boston Celtics player
Cedric Ball, Former NBA player
Doug Standhope, Comedian
Zara Cully, Actress

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#8 Weston

Located on a rugged upland plateau, Weston is a suburban town on the perimeter of metropolitan Boston. The town has maintained open spaces and over 60 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, playgrounds, ball fields, golf courses and cross-country skiing areas. Weston boasts a great school system and a quiet, well-kept neighborhood with great homes.    

Weston by the numbers
Established: 1713
Population: 11,261
Median household income: $180,815
Median housing price: $837,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 8
Affordability ranking: 274
Education ranking: 4
Economic Condition ranking: 2
Safety ranking: 12
Arts & Culture ranking: 50

Famous people
Frederic C. Dumaine, Jr., American business executive and Chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party from 1963-1965
Sarah Fuller, author and educator who taught Helen Keller
Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Boston Bruins
Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform
Stephen Pagliuca, managing director of Bain Capital, co-owner of the Boston Celtics
Anne Sexton, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
Robert Winsor, prominent American banker and financier of the early 20th century
Steve Belkin, owner of the Atlanta Hawks and formerly the Thrashers
M. L. Carr, former Boston Celtics player and head coach
John Havlicek, former Boston Celtics player
Cedric Maxwell, former Boston Celtics player and current radio announcer
Bobby Orr, player for Boston Bruins
David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox DH/1B
Jerry Remy, former Boston Red Sox player and current TV announcer
Willard Rice, 1924 Olympic hockey player
Kevin Youkilis, former Boston Red Sox player
James Pallotta, owner of the Boston Celtics and AS Roma; Founder of Raptor Capital Management

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#7 Lexington

The "birthplace of American liberty," this patriotic town offers a plethora of historical sites, but also a fair number of galleries and entertainment. Residents can read up on the revolutionary period at Cary Memorial Library, the first tax-supported library in the country, while newbies might tour the Battle Green, visit the National Heritage Museum and discover other fascinations of history. The miles of bikeway paths and trails make Lexington a wholesome place as well.

Lexington by the numbers
Established: 1713
Population: 31,394
Median household income: $136,610
Median housing price: $675,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 7
Affordability ranking: 303
Education ranking: 2
Economic Condition ranking: 23
Safety ranking: 32
Arts & Culture ranking: 40

Famous people

Lexington has more than 50 famous residents, including several Nobel Prize winners.

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#6 Wellesley

Wellesley combines its tradition with the future to create a community of restoration offset by heavy construction. Wellesley is home to 3 colleges: Wellesley College, Babson College and Mass Bay Community. Along with the constant flow of ambitious young college students each year, residents continue to be governed via Town Meeting. The Recycling and Disposal Facility, where residents sort, recycle and reuse items, reveals how much Wellesley values community. With woodland, streets lined with grand old trees and beautiful railroad stations, this quaint Boston suburb has proud dedication to education and nature.

Wellesley by the numbers
Established: 1881
Population: 27,982
Median household income: $145,208
Median housing price: $855,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 6
Affordability ranking: 320
Education ranking: 12
Economic Condition ranking: 4
Safety ranking: 38
Arts & Culture ranking: 30

Famous poeple

Wellesley's list of famous residents is long, including professional athletes, poets, and professional poker players, but the community really stands out for its extensive list of Noble Proze winners: Nicolaas Bloembergen (physics), Konrad Bloch (medicine), Peter diamond (economics), Salvador Luria (medicine), Mario Molina (chemistry), Clifford Shull (physics), Robert Solow (economics), and Samuel Ting (physics).

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#5 Provincetown

Small, quirky, and all-welcoming, this first stop of the Puritans has evolved into a renowned artist colony that is now world famous for being a capital of gay and lesbian culture. Surrounded by the Cape Cod National Seashore beaches, it is also one of the most beautiful places in America.

Provincetown by the numbers
Established: 1700
Population: 2,942
Median household income: $46,696
Median housing price: $369,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 5
Affordability ranking: 338
Education ranking: 91
Economic Condition ranking: 96
Safety ranking: 279
Arts & Culture ranking: 9

Famous people

Provincetown's legacy of the arts has rendered a long list of famous residents.

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#4 Plymouth

"America's Hometown," Plymouth is where every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors follow the Pilgrims' footsteps with a trip to Plymouth Rock and other cultural landmarks, such as the 1949 Court House and Museum. This charming town has experienced surprising economic growth and expansion, stimulated by a thriving tourist industry and better transportation. The town is also geographically diverse, with a forest, plains, hills, parks, ponds and of course, many beaches available to history-happy visitors.

Plymouth by the numbers
Established: 1620
Population: 56,468
Median household income: $76,631
Median housing price: $257,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 4
Affordability ranking: 177
Education ranking: 233
Economic Condition ranking: 190
Safety ranking: 132
Arts & Culture ranking: 2

Famous people
Chris Alberghini, television producer-writer, born in Plymouth
Oliver Ames, Jr., railroad official, former resident of Plymouth
John Bartlett, publisher of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, born in Plymouth
Amy Lynn Baxter, adult film star, born in Plymouth
Jamie P. Chandler, political commentator and author, born in Plymouth
David Chokachi, actor, born in Plymouth
Ken Coleman, sportscaster, died in Plymouth
Nancy Darsch, WNBA Coach, current resident of Plymouth
Thomas Davee, United States Representative from Maine, born in Plymouth
Dave Farrell, bassist with Linkin Park, born in Plymouth
Peter J. Gomes, preacher and theologian at Harvard Divinity School, resident of Plymouth
Glen Gray, saxophonist, leader of the Casa Loma Orchestra
Dick Gregory, comedian, activist and nutritionist, current resident of Plymouth
Pee Wee Hunt, trombonist and co-founder of the Casa Loma Orchestra, died in Plymouth
Frederic Augustus Lucas, Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences museum director, author of many scientific papers, born in Plymouth
David Maraghy Ceo of Sports Management International, LC. was born in Plymouth.
Aaron Matson, a United States Representative from New Hampshire, born in Plymouth
Violet Mersereau, silent film actress, died in Plymouth
Gary DiSarcina, former shortstop for the California Angels and manager of the single-A team
Henry Picard, Professional golfer, won The Masters Tournament
James Warren, president of the Massachusetts provincial legislature and prominent colonial-era politician.
Chris Raab Member of the CKY crew
Warren G. Phillips Inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2010
Michael Sweet, Stryper lead vocalist and lead and rhythm guitars

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#3 Barnstable

Cape Cod's largest town, Barnstable is an All-America City Award winner with seven distinct villages. This haven is a destination for many, including the Kennedy family, whose family compound is a tourist attraction. During the summer months, tourists frequent the charming streets of Hyannis, line the beach shores, and visit museums such as the John F. Kennedy Museum and U.S. Coast Guard Museum. Cape Cod Pathways offers a heavenly life through the smell of pines and oaks, wildlife sanctuaries, whale watch cruises, and sand dunes.

Barnstable by the numbers
Established: 1638 (town), 1989 (city)
Population: 49,193
Median household income: $62,191
Median housing price: $310,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 3
Affordability ranking: 289
Education ranking: 249
Economic Condition ranking: 85
Safety ranking: 251
Arts & Culture ranking: 3

Famous people

More than 50 famous politicans, novelists, actors, athletes and more, have called Barnstable home.

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#2 Cambridge

Home to Harvard and MIT, this industrial-turned-intellectual hub is an attractive location for entrepreneurs in technology. The "City of Squares" offers a wide range of restaurants and shopping areas, but when the hum of the city becomes overwhelming, the beautifully landscaped Mount Auburn Cemetery--the first garden cemetery in the nation--offers respite to those looking for rest amongst the flowers and the birds. Cambridge, and particularly the Kendal Square area, have become world-class centers for the Life Sciences and technology industries.

Cambridge by the numbers
Established: 1636
Population: 105,162
Median household income: $69,017
Median housing price: $550,000

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 2
Affordability ranking: 339
Education ranking: 204
Economic Condition ranking: 47
Safety ranking: 247
Arts & Culture ranking: 5

Famous people

Cambridge boasts more than 100 famous residents.

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#1 Boston

Affectionately known as the “hub of the universe,” Boston is a world class city with a variety of different neighborhoods, including the North End, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and the South End. Steeped in history, many patriots from America's earliest days are buried in cemeteries along the Freedom Trail. Boston offers many things to do, from art museums to concert halls to professional sports teams, as well as restaurants with cuisine from all over the world.

Boston by the numbers
Established: 1822 (settled in 1630)
Population: 617,594
Median household income: $51,739
Median housing price: $395,500

2014 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 1
Affordability ranking: 341
Education ranking: 344
Economic Condition ranking: 238
Safety ranking: 239
Arts & Culture ranking: 1

Famous people

As one might expect, hundreds of men and women of every sort of renown have lived in Boston, from clergyman Abiel Abbot to musician Rob Zombie.

 
 

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