Northampton is home to Smith College and the Clarke School for the Deaf. Smith students (along with those of the associated Five Colleges) contribute to Northampton's "college town" atmosphere.
Today, Northampton is known as an artistic, musical, and counter-culture hub. It features a large and politically influential LGBT community, along with numerous alternative health and intellectual organizations. Based on U.S. Census demographics, election returns, and other criteria, the website Epodunk rates Northampton as the most politically liberal medium-sized city (population 25,000-99,000) in the United States.
Northampton is considered part of the Springfield Metropolitan Area, one of Massachusetts' two separate metropolitan areas. It sits approximately 15 miles north of the City of Springfield, Massachusetts.