A Walking Tour of Gloucester, Massachusetts
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of Gloucester, Massachusetts is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions. More
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
Gloucester’s deep water harbor attracted a group of Englishmen from the Dorchester Company, who landed here in 1623 to fish and to establish a settlement. This first company of pioneers made landing at Half Moon Beach, and settled nearby, setting up fishing stages in a field in what is now Stage Fort Park. This settlement’s existence is proclaimed today by a memorial tablet, affixed to a 50’ boulder in that park.
This settlement allows Gloucester to boast the first settlement in what would become the Massachusetts Bay Company, as this town’s first settlement predates both Salem in 1626 and Boston in 1630. Life in this first settlement was harsh and it was short-lived. Around 1626 the place was abandoned, and the people removed themselves to Naumkeag (what is now called Salem) , where more fertile soil for planting was to be found. The meetinghouse was even disassembled and relocated to the new place of settlement. At some point in the following years - though no record exists - the area was slowly resettled. The town was formally incorporated in 1642. It is at this time that the name “Gloucester” first appears on tax rolls, although in various spellings. The town took its name from the great Cathedral City in South-West England, where it is assumed many of its new occupants originated.
This new permanent settlement focused on the Town Green area, an inlet in the marshes at a bend in the Annisquam River. This area is now the site of Grant Circle, a large traffic-rotary at which MA 128 mingles with a major city street (Washington Street/MA 127. Here the first permanent settlers built a meeting house and therefore focused the nexus of their settlement on the ‘Island’ for nearly 100 years. Unlike other early coastal towns in New England, development in Gloucester was not focused around the harbor as it is today, rather it was inland that people settled first. This is evidenced by the placement of the Town Green nearly two miles from the harbor-front.
The town was an important shipbuilding center, and the first schooner was reputedly built there in 1713. Gloucester thus became the country’s first fishing port. By the late 19th century, Gloucester was a record-setting port for fisheries under sail. Gloucester’s most famous (and nationally recognized) seafood business was founded in 1849 -- John Pew & Sons. It became Gorton-Pew Fisheries in 1906, and in 1957 changed its name to Gorton’s of Gloucester. The iconic image of the “Gorton’s Fisherman” and the products he represents, are known throughout the country and beyond. Besides catching and processing seafood, Gloucester is also a center for fish research. The city remained a fishing center as waves of immigrants – primarily Nova Scotian, Sicilian and Portuguese – came to fish the waters off Cape Ann. Fishing remains an important part of the local economy.
This walking tour will start on Gloucester’s famous waterfront and work its way up the hillside...