What do Northampton, Massachusetts, and Brooklyn, New York, have in common? A fair share of transplanted Manhattanites. Restaurants featuring local ingredients. Great music. A strong gay and lesbian community. Families with young kids. And tattoos. Lots of tattoos.
Of course, there are differences. Brooklyn is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial borough of New York City and, with two and a half million residents, the fourth most populous city in America.
Northampton is a tiny former manufacturing enclave of 30,000 nestled along the banks of the Connecticut River in Western Massachusetts.
But don’t tell that to its residents. With the beautiful Holyoke range to the south and the Berkshires beckoning to the west, this small city enjoys the surrounding rural tranquility, but workshardest to showcase its urban spunk. “We are really known for our arts and crafts and our Main Street,” explains Suzanne Beck, executive director of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce. “We are getting a lot of attention and it shows in the many ‘best of’ lists Northampton has been on recently.”
While the Connecticut River Valley has always been beautiful, Northampton has not always been progressive. CalledNonotuck when granted its charter over 350 years ago, its first settlers were Puritans and the original ethos of the area was, well, puritanical.