A Walking Tour of Salem, Massachusettsby Doug Gelbert
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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 from walkthetown.com 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. In 1626 Roger Conant led a group of fishermen down from Cape Ann and settled along the Naumkeag River beside a naturally protected harbor. Two years later a land grant and fresh financial support from England put the entire area under the control of the Massachusetts Company. Company man John Endecott became the governor of the fledgling settlement, renamed the village Salem and Roger Conant received 200 acres of land for holding “Naumkeag” together in its first months and stepping aside gracefully as it expanded. At first Salem was a farming and cod-fishing community but by the early 1700s Salem-built ships helmed by shrewd Yankee captains were plying waters far from home. In 1785 the Grand Turk left the protected harbor bound for the new trade in China. The spices, silks and teas in their cargo holds fetched great wealth and at the time of America’s first census in 1790 Salem, population 10,000, was the sixth largest city in the United States. Salem’s “Golden Age” of the early 1800s showed itself on the city streets. Native son Samuel McIntire was busy crafting one superb Federal-style mansion after another on Essex Street and Chestnut Street and Federal Street. But just as Salem was incorporating as a city in 1836, the port and its gradually silting harbor were being eclipsed by Boston and New York City. Light manufacturing took up the economic slack by the early 1900s until June 25, 1914 when a series of explosions in the Korn Leather Factory at 57 Boston Street ignited what came to be known as The Great Salem Fire. More than 1,300 buildings burned across 253 acres. In a city of 48,000 people, some 20,000 lost their homes. Spared however, were much of those esteemed early houses and Salem began to draw on its historic past to lure tourists to town. What turned out to be the main attraction for outsiders, however, was not the wealth of fabulous architecture in the city but a fascination with a dark seven-month period in 1692 when hysteria over witchcraft led to a series of trial that caused 19 people to be hanged and another “pressed to death” by gradually loading stones one after another onto his chest. Our walking tour will pass several witch-related sites although only one structure remains in Salem that had any direct connection to the trials and we will begin in the center of town in a large municipal parking lot on Church Street...
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