, Salem, MA


December 31, 2012

McAllister: The North Shore, as seen in 1945


Another image that also fits in the “time-capsule” category shows a helicopter hovering rather closely over Pioneer Village and the no-longer-extant replica of the historic ship Arbella anchored nearby.

Much of the North Shore-related text focuses on Salem, Marblehead and Gloucester. In his rather detailed chronicling of Salem’s maritime history, the author notes that many of the most powerful present-day Boston families had built their fortunes while living in the Witch City. A full-page color photograph of Chestnut Street mansions provides evidence of their wealth. Atwood also devotes space to Salem’s famed Pequot Mills, its role as a transshipping port for coal for other cotton mills in Lawrence and Lowell, and the city’s relationship to famous Americans, including George Parker, architect Samuel McIntire, statesman Timothy Pickering and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Atwood notes under the color photograph of The House of the Seven Gables that Hawthorne never lived there. Elsewhere in the piece, he quotes a letter written by Hawthorne to his sister Luisa in 1850 from Boston in which the author expresses a fear that to return to Salem at that time would be to invite tarring and feathering, a reference to the outcry over his just-published and unflattering book “The Scarlet Letter.”

In Gloucester, the author’s focus is on the city’s still-bustling fishing industry and the families who have relocated to the city from Italy or Portugal to work in it. Gloucester’s cod fishery, Atwood says, has been augmented by developments like rail transportation and fast-freeze technology that make it possible for local fishermen to make money from redfish and other species, as well. Also deemed worthy of a mention is the local glue industry that is based on abundant but inedible fish heads, tails and fins.

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