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The University of Massachusetts Amherst is located in the valley of the Connecticut River, also known as "the Pioneer Valley," and often referred to simply as “the Valley” by its residents. Only a few hours drive from Boston, New York City, and Montreal, the Pioneer Valley offers all the advantages of a large metropolitan area, but without the hustle and bustle of the city.

Writers and artists are consistently drawn to the area for its natural beauty, friendly local communities openly supportive of gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity, and rich heritage in the arts. Amherst, Emily Dickinson's birthplace and home, and its surrounding communities have also been home to Robert Frost and a number of notable poets and writers since the eighteenth century, including the first African-American poet, Lucy Terry Prince. A wide array of contemporary writers and artists, children’s book illustrators, sculptors, and painters have also lived the Valley at various times.

Complementing the scenic beauties of rolling hills, remnants of the Appalachian ridge to the south, east and west, museums with exquisite permanent collections are within easy reach—the Smith College Museum of Art, the Mount Holyoke College Museum of Art, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst, the National Yiddish Book Center and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art at Hampshire College, along with several lively galleries on the UMass campus, to name a few. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) is a short drive away in North Adams. Also within easy reach are Lenox and Stockbridge, Massachusetts, homes to world-renowned summer music and theatre festivals.

The Norwottuck Rail Trail, one of a number of bicycle trails in the Valley, connects the University in Amherst with Northampton across the river to the west. A network of no-fee public transportation provides easy and comfortable transport to surrounding communities, and in particular to the four private colleges.

The Pioneer Valley combines the scenic beauty, safety and quiet of a rural area with the diversity and cultural wealth of a big city, offering a comfortable setting for nearly all personalities and interests.

 

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