A Brief History of New Bedford, MA
The history of New Bedford, MA dates back to the 17th century. Massachusetts has a rich history, but the city of New Bedford is one of the most populated and influential cities in the state. It was once one of the most essential whaling ports in the world, and it is one of the largest cities in Massachusetts.
Early Historyin New Bedford, MA
Around the 1500s, the first settlers of the area were people from some of the Wampanoag tribes. Even after the area was explored in 1602, Europeans didn’t begin to settle here until 1652. Eventually a colonial community was established, and New Bedford was incorporated as a town in 1787.
The late 1700s led to a lot of new developments for the town. Some of its growth included the establishment of the town’s first newspaper (The Medley) and the beginning of construction for a new bridge. This bridge also encouraged additional growth for the town.
The Whaling Industry in New Bedford, MA
The first whale oil ship, the Dartmouth, was launched from the town around 1780. After the town was officially incorporated as a city, the city began to make a name for itself as the country’s main whaling port (this was due to the fact that their harbor was deeper than others). Whaling became the prominent industry for the city’s economy, with many members of the community playing some role in it.
In 1848, innovator Lewis Temple created the toggling harpoon. This invention changed the course of whaling and helped New Bedford rise to fame. Whale oil and other whale products were in demand all over the world, and this city began to prosper from that.
The whaling industry would first begin to decline around 1849 as working whalers left their jobs for California in hopes of finding gold (fun fact, this is also around the time that the classic novel Moby-Dick was published by New Bedford resident Herman Melville). The industry continued to decrease in popularity as petroleum use grew, and the very last whaleship to get sent out was in 1914.
The Textile Industry
Even though the city was no longer busy with the whaling business, they still kept themselves busy and prospering with their work in the textile industry. The city became a very important cotton yarn producer for the nation.
New Bedford, MA had many prominent businessmen within the textile industry, and at one point they gained national attention after a large strike was organized in 1928. Despite this, the textile mills continued to rise.
Other Historical Events
New Bedford was an important station of the Underground Railroad, providing safe refuge for slaves. Throughout the years, immigrants from all over have settled in the city and contributed to its rich diversity.
The New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park is a great place to drop by and visit for additional information and accounts of historical events. The history of the city is well preserved and very fascinating – you can always dig deeper and learn more about the city’s past.
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