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The Census Bureau has defined the Northeast region as comprising nine states: the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont; and the Mid-Atlantic states of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.[1][a] This definition has been essentially unchanged since 1880, and is widely used as a standard for data tabulation.[7][8][9][10] The Census Bureau has acknowledged the limitations of this definition[11] and the potential merits of a proposal created after the 1950 census that would include changing regional boundaries to include Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. with the Mid-Atlantic states, but ultimately decided that "the new system did not win enough overall acceptance among data users to warrant adoption as an official new set of general-purpose State groupings.


August 7 2011  bu JDS
Mr. Matthew Irwin's doomsday characterization of Pittsfield MA is pathetically exaggerated.  For this reason I flagged it.  I am not an apologist for GE; own no stock in the company; nor ever worked at any of the plants.  Further, I am not against the EPA.   So, let's just get matters straight:  1) General Electric -- nor other companies -- realized the dangers of PCB back in the day. 2)  To this day, the case against PCBs has very strong support, but yet to be proven.  3)  The spreading of PCB to playgrounds, driveways, back yards etc, was at the time not a nefarious act, but a fringe benefit (so it was intended to be) of the company providing workers with dirt to improve their neighborhoods or house lots.  4) Regarding fields surrounded by barbed wire throughout the city...spare the drama.  There are fences with barbed wire surrounding power stations and other critical areas in every community.  The EPA, GE, Pittsfield Housatonic River Clean-up is a ongoing work in progress as is Hill 78   5) The "closed" GE Plastics Plant and GE Ordinance Plant are alive and doing very well under new ownerships of Sabic and General Dynamic with both companies proving leading edge technologies in plastic and homeland defense respectively.  In fact, General Dynamics is developing a module for the U.S. Navy's new class of shallow draft, littoral ships which soon will be cruising  U.S. coasts protecting the hyperbolic souls such as Mr Irwin's. >>>>  Regarding Pittsfield MA in general, it is a fine small city, successfully recovering from the devastation of an imploded economy not unfamiliar with numerous other cities throughout the United States.  Rather than follow Mr Irwin's dreadful tour bus of Pittsfield and The Berkshires, I recommend that readers visit or  In these sites, one will not suffer from the myopic vision of Mr Irwin's past, but the expansive sight of a vibrant community and region.

The above video "webazines" are taken for the City of Pittsfield website where they can be found. has no connection with the development of these excellent videos nor does benefit from the listed sponsors who deserve the credit for supporting the videos' creation.  We appauld their support for The City.



Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA)
Berkshire Economic Development
Berkshire 1
Pittsfield Public Access TV
Pittsfield Beautiful RSVP
4th of July Parade Committee

Links of Interest


Berkshire Chamber of Commerce

Berkshire Economic Development Authority

Massachusetts Economic Development

Mass Development

UMass Dartmouth Center for Business Research

Small Business Administration


Berkshire Health Systems


Bureau of Labor Statistics























Getting to Pittsfield DIRECTIONS
AIR:  Scheduled Airlines: 
Commercial Service
Albany Airport, Albany, NY (ALB) – 45 minutes, 45 miles
Bradley International Airport, Hartford, CT (BDL) – 90 minutes, 70 miles
Logan International Airport, Boston, MA (BOS) – 2 1/2 hours, 135 miles
New York City Airports (JFK, LGA, EWR) – 3 hours, 155 miles
Charter Service
North Berkshire – Harriman-West Airport, North Adams, MA
Central Berkshire – Lyon Aviation, Pittsfield, MA
South Berkshire – Great Barrington Airport, Great Barrington, MA
Airport Shuttle To/ From the Berkshires
Abbott’s Limousine, Livery Service, Lee, MA 413-243-1645
By Bus
Pittsfield Bus Terminal Information to all routes – 413-443-7465
Bonanza Bus Lines – 800-556-3815
Peter Pan Bus Lines – 800-237-8747
Bus Service through-out the Berkshires is provided by:
Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) 413-499- BRTA, 800-292-BRTA
By Car
From the Albany, NY area – Follow I-90 East (MASS Pike)
For Central & Northern Berkshires, Take Exit 11, Nassau, NY, Route20 East
For Southern Berkshires, Take Exit 2, Lee, MA
From Eastern, MA areas – Follow I-90 West (MASS Pike) to Exit 2, Lee MA Or Exit 1, West Stockbridge, MA
From the Hartford, CT area – Follow I-91 North to I-90 West to Exit 2, Lee, MA
From Western CT areas – Follow Routes 7 or 8 North
From New Jersey, New York City & Long Island areas – Follow any of the Parkways North to I-87 North to I-90 East to Exit 2, Lee, MA
There are 3 ways to travel into the Berkshires from the Taconic State Parkway:
For North Berkshires – Take Route 295 East to 41 North to 20 East to 7 North
For Central Berkshires – Take Route 295 East to 41 North to 20 East
For Southern Berkshires – Take Exit for Route 23 East
By Train

Amtrak offers service to Pittsfield on the Lake Shore Limited which runs between Boston & Chicago.

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In the Heart of Downtown
In The True Heart of The Berkshires
 Pittsfield Massachusetts

In 1810, county fairs were born
By Brian Sullivan, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Updated: 10/01/2010 07:09:23 AM EDT
Click photo to enlarge
Hayden The Ram enjoys meeting 1-year-old Ever Lusignan with her mother, Kerry,... (Scott Stafford )
Hayden The Ram enjoys meeting 1-year-old Ever Lusignan with her mother, Kerry, both of Conway, during Saturday’s Hancock Shaker Village County Fair. Hayden is a merino sheep, of the same breed that Elkanah Watson exhibited in 1807. (Scott Stafford )
Friday October 1, 2010
Elkanah Watson was a pretty savvy fellow. A city guy, a New York City guy at that, he is credited with authoring the first county fair in the United States. And Pittsfield can proudly make a claim to both Watson and the fair.
It was Watson, somewhat of an entrepreneur in his day, who purchased two fine merino sheep while in Europe -- a ram and a ewe -- and brought them to Pittsfield. Known for their fine wool, the sheep were the first of this breed to see New England.
Watson exhibited the animals in 1807 on the green (what we know now as Park Square) by tying them to the giant Old Elm that rose gallantly in the center of the town.
To Watson's surprise, the sheep drew quite a crowd.
Wrote Watson, "Many farmers, even females, were attracted to this humble exhibition. If two animals are capable of exciting so much attention, what would be the effect of a display on a larger scale with different animals."
Watson was right on target.
Today is the 200th anniversary of "The Cattle Show and Agricultural Fair," which took place on the "green" on Oct. 1, 1810, an event Berkshire County still holds true to its origins and ideals. The Big E, New England's biggest county fair, remains an important part of the autumn landscape, and the harvest of the hard-working farmers, a tribute to their labor, is evident on wooden stands across rural roads throughout the region.
There had been plenty of "Agricultural
Societies" in New England and up and down the East Coast in the late 1700s, but it was Watson, still new to the county and middle-aged at that, who caught the attention and raised the spirit of the local farming community. In the three years that transpired from his initial "humble exhibit" under the Old Elm, area farmers put together the first fair in the same location.
Watson, who had sailed to Europe with trader vessels, made his money early in life, but often told his children that he longed to retire from business duties to attend to work in the rural lands.
Said Watson in 1820, "From that moment [in 1807] until this present hour, agricultural fairs and cattle shows have predominated in my mind greatly to the prejudice of my private affairs."
But if Watson was fired up about his idea, the people of "Berkshire" and Pittsfield were somewhat slower to catch the fever. This bothered Watson greatly, for he foresaw the event as both special and necessary. It would, he believed, raise the level of consciousness about this occupation and plant a seed for economic growth.
Watson first laid the ground for the formation of the Berkshire Agricultural Society and then purchased high-end sheep which he graciously offered to the society. His hopes were that a wool industry would take shape and be an economic nucleus and complement what was already a fertile agricultural region.
Here's what "The History of Pittsfield" had to say in its 1876 publication: "Pittsfield -- as is their wont with new projects to this day -- turned over [Watson's] propositions and arguments in their minds for a couple of years, and, when satisfied with their value, entered into his plans with enthusiasm and vigor."
There remained on the outside much speculation. There was both ridicule and satire thrown at Watson and his "scheme." But the Berkshire farmers rallied behind the idea of the fair and used a pretty big chunk of The Pittsfield Sun on Aug. 8, 1810, to make one final pitch toward their fellow residents.
It was headlined "Berkshire Cattle-Show," and under the headline was printed a quote from George Washington which said, "The multiplication of useful animals is a common blessing to mankind."
The text was signed by 26 of the most respectable farmers and intelligent men in the county. It suggested that the "fair" concept had succeeded in Europe for years on both a recreational and economic scale, with sales and swaps of "fine animals" being played out alongside farmers just proud to show off their livestock.
The text read, in part, "Being fully impressed with the belief that a like practice in this county will have the same good effects, we propose to exhibit on the square in the village of Pittsfield, on Monday the first of October, from nine o'clock to three, bulls, oxen, steer and other neat cattle; merino sheep of the different grades, and hogs and swine of different breeds."
The exhibition took place as scheduled, and despite some rough-around-the-edges planning, drew a rather large crowd made up largely of farmers from the Berkshires and beyond.
The smell of a successful fair was certainly in the air -- literally to some degree. There were 383 sheep, seven bulls 109 oxen, nine cows, three heifers, two calves, one boar and some short-legged pigs. One of the highlights was a Holderness bull which Watson had imported in 1808.
Two important events took place on the heels of the fair's success: Other states, those in New England in particular, took up the cause and began to form their own county fairs, also with great results; and the wool industry did take off in Berkshire, proving to be an economic staple for the area for almost a century -- right up until William Stanley brought his transformer ideas to Pittsfield around 1900 and changed the area into a manufacturing giant.
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DANBURY -- If Housatonic Railroad officials have their way, trains could be taking passengers from Danbury north to the Massachusetts border four years from now.
"Our goal is to have the funding in place for the project in a year," said Colin Pease, the vice president of special projects for the railroad.
"Construction would take about three years to complete. I may be optimistic, but I don't believe it's an unrealistic goal," he said.
Railroad officials met with area business leaders this week to discuss their proposal to extend passenger service from Danbury to Pittsfield, Mass.
On Monday they talked to members of the Kent Chamber of Commerce and Bruce Adams, the town's first selectman.
"They sounded really positive about the proposal -- that it could really happen and it's not just a pipe dream," Adams said of the meeting.
"I'm really optimistic about this. It would be great for the town to have passenger service."
Pease estimated it would take about $200 million to upgrade the tracks and purchase the additional equipment needed for passenger service.
During a meeting with The News-Times Editorial Board on Wednesday, he said the state has a number of surplus locomotives and passenger cars that would be ideal for the project.
He said he sees the railroad company partnering with the state on the project, although no subsidies would be required, unlike passenger services that already exist in the state.
Additional ridership on the Danbury branch as a result of the northward extension, he said, could earn as much as $20 million, which would more than pay for any debt service on money the state bonded to help pay for the project.
Pease said business people have expressed an interest in building some of the stations that would be needed along the new line.
The railroad can also borrow money from the federal government through a low-interest loan.
"Connecticut's economy needs to grow," he said. "If we succeed, this could bring an additional 100,000 to 200,000 more people into the region spending money. That could generate a lot of growth for the region."
An economic benefits analysis of the proposal is due later this spring.
Contact Dirk Perrefort
at or at 203-731-3358.

Train service From Berkshires to NYC is sought
By Trevor Jones
Posted: 10/18/2010 03:02:08 AM EDT
Monday October 18, 2010
New England Newspapers
The romance of the rail once played a vital role in the growth of this area -- a sinuous line from Manhattan to the Berkshires that ushered in aristocrats, culture and Gilded Age excess that made the region the tourist destination it is today.
Now, the Housatonic Railroad Co., a privately owned freight rail service operating on more than 160 miles of track in Berkshire County, Connecticut and New York, is seeking to re-establish that bygone connection by using a business model believed to be unlike any other in the nation -- offering the potential for economic growth but also raising questions about funding and sustainability.
The concept was announced last month by the Canaan, Conn.-based Housatonic Railroad, with administrators saying a three-month marketing study commissioned by them and completed in August shows 2 million one-way riders a year would use a passenger service connecting New York City, northwest Connecticut and the Berkshires.
"There’s a tremendous market," said Colin Pease, vice president for special projects for Housatonic Railroad, who said the passenger service will undergo further analysis but could be running in five years. "There are a lot of people that come to the Berkshires every year; there are a lot of people coming into northwest Connecticut."
Housatonic Railroad hopes to tap into a market of visitors and second-home owners in the Berkshires, college and
preparatory school students arriving from the New York City area, and commuter traffic to southwest Connecticut.
Trips from Pittsfield to New York City would take 31Ž2 to four hours, depending on station upgrades and where riders transferred with Metro-North, the rail system servicing commuters in New York City’s northern suburbs. Travel time also could be cut if the company is able to establish direct routes from Pittsfield to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.
Potential stops in Berkshire County include existing stations in Pittsfield, Lenox, Stockbridge, Great Barrington and a new station near the Connecticut line in Sheffield.
State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, said the study, conducted through targeted online questionnaires, can be used to convince state transportation officials about the demand for this service.
"Prior to this report, it was very theoretical, an ‘If we build it, they will come’ sort of thing," Downing said. "By taking the step of doing the study, it’s now ‘If we build it, we know they will come.’ "
Housatonic Railroad officials say the line could lead to economic growth in the area through second-home owners setting up satellite offices locally and by creating greater incentive for companies to relocate to Lee’s vacant mills, which run along the Housatonic Railroad’s existing freight lines.
The service itself also could create about 200 jobs, according to Pease, and as many as 800 more in ancillary growth of car rental agencies and other businesses in or around stations.
Lauri Klefos, president and CEO of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, called the concept a "no-brainer" and said another positive sign from the survey’s findings was the interest from younger riders.
"I really liked the thought that the opening up of rail lines may give us another means of drawing another demographic to the area, and that’s exciting," Klefos said.
But before travelers begin imagining spending their commute from New York to the Berkshires reading a good book, tapping on their smart phones or using WiFi on their laptops, there remains one major stumbling block: money, and lots of it.
Replacement of rails and ties would be required for the entire system at a cost of between $1.2 million and $1.3 million per mile, while property not owned by Housatonic Railroad -- stations, parking lots and road crossings -- would need to be upgraded or replaced as well.
The company is looking to refurbish 14 gallery cars it owns that have sat unmoved along Van Deusenville Road in Housatonic since around 2006. The company also is looking to buy older vehicles declared surplus by the state of Connecticut -- locomotives that could travel directly to Grand Central, and short-range trains that could travel between Pittsfield and Danbury, Conn. or Brewster, Conn.
All told, these investments are expected to cost $200 million.
The company would not use outside private investors, Pease said, instead seeking assistance from the states, as well as applying for railroad investment loans.
Pease would not say what kind of public investment would be needed, but acknowledged it would be in the tens of millions. Most of that, he said, should be allocated for areas that the company doesn’t own, such as the 37-mile stretch of rail it operates on but which is owned by Connecticut.
But securing public funding could be difficult in the coming years. Downing acknowledged there are Eastern Massachusetts districts that already say they are in line for more than $1 billion in rail improvements, and $160 million in federal stimulus funds have been allocated to a new high-speed rail system for the nearby Connecticut River Valley.
Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials said they would need more information from the Housatonic Railroad Co. before they could comment in detail on the project.
Judd Everhart, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, said his department would support the concept but could not provide financial support in the "foreseeable future" because of its focus on the high-speed rail project.
Pease said his company’s next step will be to come up with a more in-depth revenue analysis to gain the support of the state agencies, an analysis he believes will be completed this fall. He also would like to see regional planers in the affected areas conduct studies to find the local economic benefits the service could provide.
But Pease said his company also can make its case to state officials by offering something believed to be unheard of in modern passenger rail -- a business without government assistance once the trains are running.
"If we’re able to do this subsidy-free -- which we’re very comfortable we can -- it is a significant change from what is a traditional passenger service, and it makes it a lot easier to sell because you’re not relying on the taxpayers’ dollars," he said.
There currently are no intercity passenger rail services operating in the country without some form of public subsidy, and at least one-third of the operating budgets for similar services in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts are covered by taxpayer dollars.
But Housatonic Railroad officials say they would operate more efficiently than these entities, holding down costs with funds generated by their existing freight services and finding savings in shared services such as maintenance and signal systems for the freight and passenger services.
"That’s a big hurdle," Nat Karns, executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, said about the possibility of operating without a government subsidy. "If they can do that, they’ve done something that’s not been done before, to my knowledge."
Pease said rail fares would be comparable to other mass transit options, with a current one-way bus ticket from Pittsfield to New York City costing $58, a one-way Amtrak ticket priced at $82, and a one-way Metro-North ticket from Wassaic, N.Y. -- 60 miles south of Pittsfield -- to Grand Central costing $25 during peak hours.
There also are questions about how realistic Housatonic Railroad’s ridership estimates are -- figures that exceed the ridership projections for the Connecticut River Valley project, which runs through more populated areas such as Springfield and New Haven, Conn.
Typically, potential ridership is figured out by looking at U.S. Census data on where people live and work. The August study instead used metrics sometimes implemented by the airline industry to determine destination travel.
"The problem that we have is the Census data doesn’t track visitors; it doesn’t track second-home owners; it doesn’t track students," Pease said. "All it does is track people’s homes and work, and it doesn’t work for us because you would miss a very large share of the market."
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, questioned the survey’s results, calling them "grandiose" and saying a more thorough analysis is needed before any taxpayer funds are considered.
"They’re going to have to show me and lot of other people a lot more information," he said. "We need to take off the rose-colored glasses."
Karns said he understands why Housatonic Railroad officials used those metrics, but the company will need to show stakeholders an existing passenger service analogous to what they are proposing, services that run from densely populated areas to a mostly rural area with numerous stops.
Karns said that would allow their results to "pass the smell test and give us a reality check" because "I’m not aware of anything that’s even reasonably close."
Pignatelli also questioned the desire of visitors or second-home owners to rent cars or rely on public transportation once they arrive in the area, or the ability to bring in an adequate rental-car infrastructure, asking: "When they get here, what are we going to do with them?"
Pease acknowledged that accommodating travelers’ needs when they arrive in the Berkshires would be key to the success of their concept, and there are ongoing talks with outside organizations to accommodate those needs, including hotels interested in providing transportation for their customers, and potential car and bicycle rental agencies.
And though he recognizes challenges his company would have in selling an untested proposal, Pease sees chances for success here that might not be feasible elsewhere.
"I don’t know if there are other parts of the country where this would work," Pease said. "We’re lucky we have something that’s unique -- New York City."
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guest 1 day ago
This is why I no longer live in the Hudson Valley. Little quaint towns will be used as parking lots for the rail, locals will be treated with disdain because they "don't appreciate what they have", retail everything will be priced for New Yorkers, buying a tiny fixer upper will be impossible. Stop thinking only about business and think about the impact to quality of life for people who grew up here, or who moved here to get away from the elitist rich who think everything on earth is for sale, and every place is a suburb of NY.


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