Sunday, December 26, 2010

Salem: Founded 1629

As I sat down to write about our Holiday Party a few weekends ago, I realized that, although I've posted quite a lot about the places I've traveled to over the past couple of months, I have not yet shared anything about where I currently live!  Thus, I hope you can bear with me as I take a time-out to share some info/thoughts on the city of Salem.  We moved here on April 1 of this year, the day after we closed on our new condo.  Salem is most well known for the Salem Witch Trials in 1692, when the local Puritans let hysteria run ramped and executed 19 innocent people.  I remembered the city mostly from my required summer reading in high school, when I had to read Arthur Miller's "The Crucible".  Not until after we closed on our place did we find out that the park right by our condo, Gallows Hill Park, was the location of all of the witch hysteria hangings.  Currently, it is playing field for various sports so we didn't realize the historical significance until we went to the Witch History museum downtown!
Pioneers in the Settlement of American by William A. Crafts. Vol. I Boston: Samuel Walker & Company, 1876. Artists: F.O.C. Darley, Wm. L Shepard, Granville Perkins, etc.
Despite its dark past, the city was also one of our country's most significant seaports, acting as a linchpin in the Triangle Trade Route with England and the East Indies.  Eventually, our larger neighbor to the south took over as New England's largest seaport, but Salem's waterfront continued in importance.  In fact, the waterfront was actually our nation's first National Historic Site.  You may recall the novel "House of Seven Gables" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which was inspired by a house that is still standing at the waterfront today.  It has been restored and welcomes visitors throughout the year.  Hawthorne was born in Salem and also penned the famous "Scarlet Letter".  A statue in his honor currently presides downtown.
House of Seven Gables; Source:
Today, Salem's downtown is pedestrian friendly with brick and cobble stone streets leading to a myriad of shops, restaurants and bars.  For those of you New Englanders, it reminds me a lot of Portsmouth, NH and Newburyport, MA.  The difference is of course the witch theme, which is still extremely prominent.  We have a number of museums, Wiccan shops, Halloween and costume boutiques, as well as a statue of "Samantha" from Bewitched .  Needless to say, Halloween is a BIG event here.  We happened to be away in Sanibel this year for Halloween, but I understand that the city's "Haunted Happenings" celebration draws over 100,000 people and culminates in a fantastic fireworks display over the water.  I remember reading before we left for our trip, that the original Mike Myers actor had been in town signing autographs.  Pretty wild all around.
Source: Zombie Walk 2009, The Salem Insider web site
It's been an extremely busy 8 months since we've moved here, but I've enjoyed getting to know the local haunts.  In the summer, it's great to spend time at Pickering Wharf by the marina.  From here, you can see our local tall ship, the Friendship.
At Pickering Wharf, you can also poke around a few gift shops, clothing boutiques, as well as antiques and arts & crafts stores.  You can also treat yourself to dinner and drinks at a few restaurants, including FINZ, 62 on Wharf, Captains and Victoria Station.
Cute name right?
Me and Corinne at FINZ

Mike's Birthday at Victoria Station: Daisy, Adam, Mike, Dave and I

Neighboring Derby Wharf forms the backdrop to the July 4 fireworks display, which was an amazing sight!  They lasted a full 30 minutes or so and were set to music played by a full orchestra.
July 4th Orchestra
There are quite a few food and drink establishments up the street as well.  Dave and I have popped into Tavern in the Square innumerable times, as well as Rockafellas and O'Neill's.  FYI -- Tavern in the Square is a great nightlife spot, but also has a good Sunday brunch.
O'Neill's with my cousin Bill
We also live close enough to walk to the MBTA commuter rail.  It takes about 20 minutes or so to get into North Station in Boston.  In the spring, I relished my picturesque walk down Federal Street to the station.

Having been a Boston resident for about 5 years, it was extremely difficult to leave the city limits! However, being in Salem has made the transition from city life a little less dramatic than it would have been had I moved to true suburbia.  It is rich in culture and also provides a fairly vibrant restaurant and bar scene.  It also has the added benefit of much more affordable housing prices (a much appreciated trait for me 8 months ago)!  Nonetheless, if I ever find myself in need of a Boston night out, at least I know I'm only a 20 minute train ride away!

1 comment:

  1. Colby's grandfather told me this weekend that ancestors of his were convicted of being witches in Salem...i wonder if maybe we could find their headstones!!