Taunton is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts located approximately 40 miles south of Boston, 18 miles east of Providence. It is the seat of Bristol County. Taunton is situated on the Taunton River which winds its way through the city on its way to Mount Hope Bay
Founded in 1637 by members of the Plymouth Colony, Taunton is one of the oldest towns in the United States. The native Americans called the region Cohannet, Tetiquet and Titicut before the arrival of the Europeans. Most of the town’s settlers were originally from Taunton in Somerset, England, which led early settlers to name the settlement after that town.
Taunton is also known as the “Silver City”, as it was a historic center of the silver industry beginning in the 19th century when companies such as Reed & Barton, F. B. Rogers, Poole Silver, and others produced fine-quality silver goods in the city. In the 19th century, Taunton was also the center of an important iron-making industry, utilizing much bog iron from the numerous swamps in the surrounding area. Taunton was a major shipping point for grain from the inland rural farm areas of Massachusetts to the rest of the nation.
Since December 1914, the city of Taunton has provided a large annual light display each December on Taunton Green, giving it the additional nickname of “Christmas City”.
The city formed the Taunton Municipal Light Plant (TMLP) in 1897making it a publicly owned electric utility. Today, TMLP provides electric service to customers in Taunton, Berkley, Raynham, and sections of Dighton, Lakeville and Bridgewater. TMLP is governed by a three-member Board of Commissioners, which is elected by the citizens of Taunton.
The Myles Standish Industrial Park in Taunton’s north end is currently one of the largest in New England. The National Weather Service operates a regional weather forecast office that serves much of Massachusetts, all of Rhode Island, and most of northern Connecticut there. The National Weather Service also operates the Northeast River Forecast Center on the site.
The city of Taunton is very multi-cultural with peoples of different origins living within the city. Most of Taunton’s immigration occurred near the turn of the 1900s when immigrants would work in the city’s mills.
The city has a Mayor-Council form of government. Taunton also has a School Committee and many boards and commissions. As the seat of Bristol County, Taunton is home to the county’s few administrative offices and several of its courthouses, including the Bristol County Superior Courthouse.
Taunton is a part of three separate state representative districts: Third Bristol (entirely located in Taunton), Fifth Bristol, and 12th Bristol. It is a part of the First Plymouth and Bristol state senate district. On the national level, the town is part of Massachusetts Congressional District 4.
Many famous political or politically controversial events occurred in Taunton’s long history. Robert Treat Paine, a long-time Taunton resident, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the first Attorney-General of Massachusetts. Part of King Philip’s War was fought within Taunton’s limits.
The Taunton Fire Department currently operates out of 5 Fire Stations, located throughout the city.
Taunton’s economy has historically been based on silversmithing and shipbuilding. Reed & Barton produced the 1996 Summer Olympics medals and silverware used exclusively for the White House. Also, the city produced the anchor for the USS Constitution. The nearby town of Raynham produced the anchor for the Civil War-era ironclad USS Monitor.
Today, the city’s economy has many emphases on semiconductor, silicon, and electronics manufacturing. Silver City Galleria is a large shopping mall in Taunton catering to the local city and to the neighboring towns.
Education in Taunton ranges from preschool through post-secondary education. Taunton has nine public elementary schools and three public middle schools. The city also has two Catholic elementary schools; one Catholic middle school and one Catholic high school. Taunton has two public high schools Taunton High School, which houses grades 9-12 as well as all of the city’s public 8th grade students, and Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School. Taunton is home to a satellite campus of Bay State College Associate and Bachelor degrees to working professionals and career changers in the fields of business and management, criminal justice and medical assisting. It is also home to a satellite campus of Bristol Community College. In addition, the city houses career schools.
The city is home to two state parks.
The Central Fire Station is recognized as the oldest functioning station house in the United States.
Taunton is home to the Morton Hospital and Medical Center. Taunton State Hospital is a psychiatric hospital, now one of the very few mental health hospitals in Massachusetts for longer term in-patient care of psychiatric patients.
Taunton is the central highway hub of southeastern Massachusetts. There are plans being worked on to link parts of the commercial rail with the Stoughton line of the MBTA commuter rail system to Boston. The Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority, or GATRA, provides bus mass transit.
Taunton has its own municipal airport, serving mostly smaller craft and occasional commuter jets. The nearest airport with national airline service is T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, and the nearest international service is at Logan International Airport in Boston.