Fun In New England - Massachusetts


Nickname: "City of Witches"
Official Website:
Other Website:
County: Essex
Region: Lynn Area & North Shore
Year Settled: 1626
Incorporated as a Town: 1626
Incorporated as a City: 1836
Land Area: 8.1 sq. miles
Population Density: 4,989 people/sq mile
Population from Census 2000: 40,407
Estimated Population for 2006: 41,343
Racial makeup of population: [+] show
0.1%Native American
Median Housing Unit Value in 2000: $188,000
Median Single Family House Sale Price in 2006: $320,000
Poverty: 9.7%
Violent Crime Index: 20 (average)
Property Crime Index: 27 (average)

Salem is a small city on the shore north of Boston, founded by Puritan fishermen in 1626. Early on it was primarily a fishing village, but by the 1800s became one of the most important ports for trade with the East Indies (India, China, East Asia, etc.). At one time Salem included most of the towns on Boston's north shore. Salem became prosperous and the wealthy built many large mansions. Some of these houses survive today. During the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 with England, many of Salem's boat captains became privateers. Salem's importance as a trading port waned in the 1800s, and factories took over as the main economic force in the city. Many homes in the city burned in the Fire of 1914, but luckily it spared much of the historic districts. Today Salem has a booming tourist business that centers around the infamous witch trials, Halloween, and also Salem's maritime history.

During the early years of America, Salem was basically ruled by the Puritan church. Members of the church were deeply religious and were very afraid of the Devil, witches, and magic. Starting about February 1692 two girls began having bizarre fits and were believed to be possessed by the Devil. Soon other girls in the area began exhibiting similiar symptoms. The girls claimed that certain women in the town had cast spells on them. The hysteria spread quickly and from 1692 to 1693 over 150 people were accused of witchcraft and arrested. 14 women and 5 men were hanged for practicing witchcraft, one man was crushed with stones, and at least 5 other people died in prison. To this day nobody knows what was causing the girls strange behavior or whether anyone was actually practicing witchcraft. It is believed now that most of the girls were "acting" and were accusing people they did not like, perhaps due to jealousy or spite. Theories about medical or psychological disorders afflicting the girls have also been explored.

Salem has a large visitors center located in the former armory (part of the National Park Service). Since the 1990s much of Salem's tourism business has centered around haunted houses (both real and simulated), month-long Halloween celebrations, witch museums, and shops and attractions dealing with the supernatural, magic, ghosts, witches, psychics, and wicca. Salem's former importance as a seafaring port is exhibited in tourist attractions such as the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, the Friendship (a replica of a 1797 sailing ship), and the Peabody Essex Museum which has exhibits of boats, Asian art and culture and also whaling. Historic districts offer a glimpse into Salem's historic architectural grandeur. There are also many historic houses open to the public in Salem including the House of the Seven Gables (written into a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne) and The Witch House. Two trolley companies operate tourist trolleys throughout the city. Those wishing to sail around the harbor have a few choices for boat cruises. There are a couple nice beachfront parks: Salem Willows Park and Forest River Park. For the adventurous there is Winter Island Marine Park and the Misery Islands. There is a high speed ferry which runs between Boston and Salem called the Salem Ferry. The North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau offers the Discover Salem Passport which is a discount ticket to Salem's top attractions. Click here for complete list of attractions in Salem.

Top Attractions In Salem

Top Recommended Restaurants In Salem

Casual/Family Dining
Ice Cream
Middle Eastern

Footnotes and sources of data
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