Needham, Massachusetts

Needham is a town located in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 28,911.



Needham was first settled in 1680 and was officially incorporated in 1711. Originally part of the Dedham Grant, Needham split from what is now Natick, Massachusetts. By the 1770s settlers in the western part of the town who had to travel a long distance to the meeting house on what is now Central Avenue sought to form a second parish in the town. Opposition to this desire created conflict, and in 1774 a mysterious fire destroyed the extant meeting house. Some time afterwards the West Parish was formed. In 1881 the West Parish was separately incorporated as the town of Wellesley, Massachusetts. In that year or the following one, Needham and Wellesley high schools began playing an annual football game on Thanksgiving, claimed locally to be the oldest continuous high school football rivalry in the United States. (It was about this time that the basic American football rules which differentiate the game from rugby were established).

During the great religious division among churches descended from the Puritan congregations that took place in New England in the late 18th century and early 19th century, the First Parish in Needham became Unitarian, like many others in eastern Massachusetts, following the lead of the divines at Harvard University. Self-defined orthodox Congregationalists had to form a separate church, though for a period they may have attended the church in Dedham, Massachusetts which remained Congregationalist.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 32.9 km² (12.7 mi²). 32.7 km² (12.6 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.71% water.


Needham is home to Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, chartered in 1997. In the public school system, there are five elementry (Broadmeadow, Eliot, Hillside, Mitchell, and Newman), one middle (Pollard), and one high school (Needham High).


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 28,911 people, 10,612 households, and 7,778 families residing in the town. The population density is 885.2/km² (2,292.7/mi²). There are 10,846 housing units at an average density of 332.1/km² (860.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 94.82% White, 0.70% Black or African American, 0.03% Native American, 3.54% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 0.25% from other races, and 0.67% from two or more races. 1.18% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 10,612 households out of which 37.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.9% are married couples living together, 6.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 26.7% are non-families. 23.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.63 and the average family size is 3.15.

In the town the population is spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 5.3% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 24.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 41 years. For every 100 females there are 90.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 83.9 males.

The median income for a household in the town is $88,079, and the median income for a family is $107,570. Males have a median income of $76,459 versus $47,092 for females. The per capita income for the town is $44,549. 2.5% of the population and 1.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 1.2% of those under the age of 18 and 4.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Needham is part of the Boston media market. In addition to the Boston Globe and Boston Herald newspapers, the local weekly Needham Times is published by Community Newspaper Company. The studios of television stations WCVB (5/20 Boston, ABC) and WUNI (27/29 Worcester, Univision) are located in Needham, as are the transmitters of WCVB, WBZ-TV (4/30 Boston, CBS), WGBH-TV (2/19 Boston, PBS), WGBX-TV (44/43 Boston, PBS), WFXT (25/31 Boston, Fox), WSBK (38/39 Boston, UPN), and WLVI (56/41 Cambridge, WB). Radio station WEEI (850 Boston) transmits from a three-tower site south of the former town dump. Needham has no local radio or television station of its own. A local cable television channel provides local news such as town meeting information, school announcements, and local high-school sports.

Local interest

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