The best kept secret on the North Shore

... Salem, we hardly knew ye

by Jim Tierney

...Salem??? may not agree because of it's notoriety from hysterical teenagers falsely accusing people they didn't like of witchcraft over a SHORT 6 month period more than 300 years ago. As a result, Salem dubs itself the Witch City, their sports teams the Salem Witches, and the city symbol is a broomsitck-riding witch. Tourists go there, mainly, for THAT reason and are greeted with attractions like the Witch Museum, Witch Dungeon Museum, Witch History Museum, Witch Village, Witch House, Witch Mansion, etc.

You may also be aware of Salem Willows, Pickering Wharf, and Salem State College.

However, did you know THIS about Salem??

--The name Salem comes from the Hebrew word Shalom, meaning peace.

--Salem was ranked as the sixth largest city in the country and the richest per capita during it's world trading days of yesteryear.

--Salem ships were so frequent in world ports, many thought that Salem was a country in itself.

Salem produced the first millionaire in America, Elias Hasket Derby, a prominent merchant in the shipping era. Salem native Nathanial Bowditch, noted mathematician and astronomer, found 8000 errors in the British Navigation Tables, wrote "The New American Practical Navigator", which became the seamen's bible and called the "bowditch"..

--Salem's Maritime Historic Site was the first ever named historic site, designated by FDR in 1938.

--Nathanial Hawthorne was born here July 4,1804, celebrating his bicentennial this year, writing his classics, "The Scarlet Letter" and "House of Seven Gables". He was also the Surveyor of the Port of Salem, overseeing Customs Officers as they processed cargoes entering the flourishing port of Salem. He was the only person in the Custom House authorized to use the hydrometer to measure the alcohol content of wine and spirits.

--Alexander Graham Bell lived here and he and Thomas Watson gave the first public demonstration of the telephone here in 1877. William Filene opened his first store here in 1856. 16 year old George Parker invented his first game and the rest is history with the Parker Brothers and Monopoly.

The elegant, Federalist Style Hawthorne Hotel, established in 1925, has it's own history, and is the place to stay. It is one of the Historic Hotels of America.

We can't forget the Peabody Essex Museum. America's oldest continously, operative museum was founded in 1799, sixteen years after the establishment of our nation. The P.E.M. is a hidden treasure with collections that exceed 2.4 million works of art and culture and, it alone, is worth a trip to here to the P.E.M.

Had enough??..There is much more to Salem and only a few miles away from you to see and hear what else Salem has to offer.

May 6, 2005

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