Salem Maritime National Historic Site


Called the "Venice of the New World" during colonial times, Salem was the center of trade for the colonies: taxes on ships' cargoes and other services alone represented a good percentage of the young nation's income. Tea, spices, china, and silks were brought here from all over the world, and jobs were easy to come by. Derby Wharf, named for Elias Haskett Derby, was the largest and most prosperous of all of the wharves. Known as America's first millionaire, Derby built a small empire out of his shipping business, and his wharf is one of three that still exist today. The other, Central Wharf, is now the site of the visitor orientation center. What to see and do. A good place to start is the visitor center, which offers a wealth of information about the historic site as well as other related area attractions. Highlights at the site include the Custom House, which was mentioned in the introduction to Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the public stores, the bonded warehouse, and the scale house. You can view the original late-19th-century offices of the Custom House, including the office where Nathaniel Hawthorne worked in the mid-1800s. Antique barrels used to store rum, wharf equipment, and tea chests are on display in the bonded warehouse; the scale house features original weighing equipment. Elias Derby's home has been refurbished to show how the family lived at the time of the Revolutionary War. The West India Goods Store, which sold imported merchandise in the late 1700s and early 1800s, has been restored and is open for business. The Narbonne-Hale House, dating from 1672, contains artifacts that reflect everyday living over a 300-year period. The Custom House, the Derby Home, and the Narbonne House are open on a limited basis. Call ahead for details about schedules and fees. A special treat is the recently opened reproduction of a 1797 East Indiaman, the Friendship. The Heritage Walking Trail connects the visitor center with the orientation center on Central Wharf, where you can get acquainted with the area highlights and try on period costumes. The town of Salem holds Heritage Days in late August every year, and celebrates witches, pirates, and other creatures around the end of October. The site is open year-round and offers seasonal group tours; call ahead for availability. Leashed pets are not permitted indoors. Handicapped-accessible facilities are available. Salem is located 20 miles northeast of Boston. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (to 6 p.m. in July & August). Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.


174 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970


42.52176600, -70.88620900
Visit Website
(978) 740-1660

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