Thursday July 15, 2010

NORTH ADAMS -- For decades, North County residents have known that Jack's Hot Dog Stand is one of the hidden gems of the Berkshires.

Now the secret is out.

The eatery, which has made its home on Eagle Street for 93 years, has been named as one of the 1,000 Greatest Places in Massachusetts, alongside some of the state's more iconic attractions such as Plymouth Rock, Walden Pond, the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution.

A total of 90 attractions and locations from the Berkshires made the list of 1,000 venues from across the state, released this week by the Massachusetts Office of Tourism and Travel.

"I was honored just to be nominated, but I never thought we'd be picked," owner Jeff Levanos, grandson of the originator Jefros "Jack" Levanos, said. "I was blown away ... it's a great thing, and I hope the whole city benefits from it this tourist season. It's a boost for everyone."

The popularity of the hot dog emporium has never been in question with local residents, who often stop by for a bite after being away for a while.

"We have a lot of people who have moved away and tell us we're their first stop when they come home for a visit," Levanos said. "I had one mother recently tell me that when her son returns home from college, she makes him a big dinner, but he'll stop here first on the way home to eat."

Although North Adams couldn't match Boston's 75 "great" sites, it fared well, landing 10 spots on the list, which was culled from over 12,000 nominations gathered earlier this year by the Great Places in Massachusetts Commission.

Berkshire attractions include the expected -- Tanglewood, Mount Greylock, the Clark Art Museum, and the unexpected -- the ballot box used by the first U.S. woman voter at New Ashford Town Hall, Pioneer Monument on Stafford Hill in Cheshire, and Bas Ridge Golf Course in Hinsdale.

"There are a lot of great places on the list," said Eric Turkington, chairman of the commission. "It's a great thing for the individual recipients, who will hopefully get a boost, especially this year when the state isn't in position to send much money out."

Nominations came from commission members, local cultural councils, regional tourism offices and a list generated through the state office of tourism website.

"We whittled that huge list down to a smaller list," Turkington said. "Some places didn't have anything nominated, so we did a little outreach."

The list does have a few idiosyncrasies. Clarksburg made the list for its state park, but its hilltown neighbor of Florida received credit for the Hairpin Turn Overlook on Route 2. The Hairpin Turn belongs to Clarksburg, located in a slice of town sandwiched between two pieces of North Adams, about a mile below Florida on the Mohawk Trail.

Florida, which was rightfully recognized for the Elk Memorial on the Whitcomb Summit and the eastern portal of the Hoosac Tunnel (named after the mountain range, not the Hoosic River as suggested by the list's spelling), also received credit for the Hail to the Sunrise statue -- which is actually in Charlemont.

The famed Williamstown Theatre Festival didn't make the list at all, but Barrington Stage Co., Berkshire Theatre Festival, Jacob's Pillow and Shakespeare and Co. all did.

"Most people are pretty happy with the list, but there's always going to be something you missed, and it makes you feel bad," Turkington said.


The Berkshire spots among the state's 1,000 Great Places

Mount Greylock State Reservation - Adams

Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church - Adams

Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum - Adams

The Quaker Meeting House - Adams

Veterans Memorial Tower - Adams

Knox Trail - Alford

Jacob's Pillow - Becket

Upper Goose Pond - Becket

Pioneer Monument at Stafford Hill - Cheshire

Clarksburg State Park - Clarksburg

Crane Paper Company Museum - Dalton

Wahconah Falls State Park - Dalton

Elk Memorial Sculpted by Eli Harvey - Florida

Hail to the Sunrise Statue - Florida

Hoosac Tunnel - Florida

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center - Great Barrington

Monument Mountain - Great Barrington

Ski Butternut - Great Barrington

Ioka Valley Farm - Hancock

Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort - Hancock

Constitution Hill - Lanesborough

Main Street - Lee

Museum of Animation, Special Effects and Art - Lee

October Mountain State Park - Lee

Prime Outlets - Lee

Berkshire Scenic Railway - Lenox

Cranwell Resort Spa & Golf Club - Lenox

Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio - Lenox

Kennedy Park - Lenox

Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary - Lenox

Shakespeare and Company - Lenox

Tanglewood - Lenox

The Mount - Lenox

Ventfort Hall - Lenox

Beartown State Forest - Monterey

Berkshire Fish Hatchery - Monterey

Bidwell House Museum - Monterey

Bluff Head - Monterey

Lake Garfield - Monterey

Bash Bish Falls Mount - Washington

First women voter in U.S. ballot box at Town Hall - New Ashford

Lower Carroll Mill - New Marlborough

The Buggy Whip Factory - New Marlborough

The Meeting House - New Marlborough

Thousand Acre Swamp - New Marlborough

Hairpin Turn Overlook on Route 2 - North Adams

A Chapel For Humanity - North Adams

Elf Parlor - North Adams

Jack's Hot Dog Stand - North Adams

Mass MoCA - North Adams

Natural Bridge - North Adams

North Adams Library - North Adams

North Adams Museum of History and Science - North Adams

The Porches - North Adams

Western Gateway Heritage State Park - North Adams

Windsor Lake - North Adams

Spectacle Pond - Otis

Middlefield State Forest - Peru

Arrowhead, Home of Herman Melville - Pittsfield

Barrington Stage Company - Pittsfield

Berkshire Museum - Pittsfield

Colonial Theater - Pittsfield

Hancock Shaker Village - Pittsfield

Hilltop Orchards - Richmond

Sandisfield State Forest - Sandisfield

Spectacle Pond - Sandisfield

Tannery Falls in the Savoy Mountain State Forest - Savoy

Bartholomew's Cobble - Sheffield

Berkshire Botanical Garden - Stockbridge

Berkshire Theatre Festival - Stockbridge

Chesterwood - Stockbridge

Ice Glen Trail - Stockbridge

Main Street - Stockbridge

Mission House - Stockbridge

National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Eden Hill - Stockbridge

Norman Rockwell Museum - Stockbridge

Red Lion Inn - Stockbridge

Tyringham Cobble - Tyringham

Historic District - Washington

Clark Art Institute - Williamstown

Field Farm - Williamstown

Spring Street - Williamstown

The Orchards Hotel - Williamstown

Williams College Art Museum - Williamstown

Williams Inn - Williamstown

Notchview Reservation - Windsor

Windsor Jambs - Windsor

Appalachian Trail - Berkshire section

Mohawk Trail scenic byway - Williamstown to Shirley

To view the complete list of places, visit www.massvacation.com/1000.