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Salem: the witch city. The city that hundreds of years ago sent bolts of fear shooting through its Puritan residents as the witch trials battled on around them. People today still come in droves so to see the place depicted in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. It is a place where religious fervor trumped the mind’s logic and which led to the deaths of many innocent people. Still, those darker days were only a brief period in Salem’s life, which began with its settlement in 1626, incorporation in 1629, and declaration of cityhood in 1836. Over the course of Salem’s history, the city has been home to a slew of notable figures such as its founder Roger Conant, minister during the witch trails Samuel Parris, the “ Hanging Judge” in the trials John Hathorne, well known author Nathaniel Hawthorne, Wiccan high priestess Laurie Cabot, secretary of state Timothy Pickering, astronomer, mathematician, and navigator Nathaniel Bowditch, abolitionist Sarah Parker Remond, and former chairman and CEO of General Electric Jack Welch. Today, Salem is considered a part of Essex County and lies between Salem Harbor and Beverly Harbor, all of which are a part of Massachusetts Bay. The city is also comprised of several neighborhoods such as Salem Neck, The Point, South Salem, North Salem, Witchcraft Heights, Pickering Wharf, and the McIntire Historic District, along with being bordered by the communities of Danvers, Beverly, Peabody, Lynn, Swampscott, and Marblehead.

Once a Native American village and trading site, Salem was later settled by the English and referred to as Naumkeag. It was only a few years later that the city came into the name of Salem. A significant number of the English were Puritans and in their desire to practice their religion they established the First Church of Salem, which was also the original Puritan church in the entire country. As were many early religious communities, the Puritans were mortally afraid of the things that they could not explain and which, in their minds, were against God. Therefore, many of Salem’s residents were easily caught up in the witch hysteria that originally began in nearby Salem Village, which today is known as Danvers. Though once the trials ended and the fears of the people began to subside, a sense of normalcy returned until the pre-Revolutionary War times. Many Salem residents took a stand against the British before and during the war. On February 26, 1775, Salem patriots successfully blocked British troops from invading their military supplies and then began privateering against British ships, which they did again in the War of 1812.

Salem’s relationship with the sea had only just started as by 1790 the city was the sixth largest in the country and was also a world-renowned seaport. Trade was established with China, the West Indies, Europe, Africa, Russia, Japan, and Australia with goods such as tea, pepper, sugar, molasses, and codfish. Unfortunately by the 19th century, Salem’s shipping industry declined as Boston and New York became increasingly more successful. This downturn led the city to start other businesses, which was realized in the form of tanneries, shoe factories, and in the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company. Moving into the 20th century, Salem residents remained resilient through a number of obstacles starting with World War I, the Great Salem Fire of 1914, which left 3,500 families without homes, and then followed by World War II.  Coming out of these hard times, one of Salem’s largest sources of income came to be its tourist industry, which it has maintained through tours, Halloween events, the Salem Witch Museum, and much more.

Salem has a wealth of natural and historical landmarks, which includes the Salem Willows Park, Mack Park, Mary Jane Lee Park, Salem Common, Collins Cove, Palmer Cove, the Peabody Essex Museum, and four historic districts.  The four districts of Derby Street, Lafayette Street, McIntire and Washington Square provide a wide range of Salem history. Residents and visitors alike are offered glimpses into the city’s maritime, military, civic and architectural past such as with Federal and late 19th century Victorian style residencies. There are also a number of historic homes such as the Nathaniel Bowditch House, Crowninshield- Bentley House, John Tucker Daland House, the Witch House, and the House of Seven Gables, a residence that includes the Turner House and Hawthorne’s birthplace. The first National Historic Site, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, is also a part of the abundant list of sites to see in Salem.

In terms of education, the residents of Salem are served by a number of public and private schools. Of the former, these include the elementary schools of Bates, Bentley, Horace Mann, Saltonstall, Nathaniel Bowditch, and Witchcraft Heights, the Collins Middle School, and the Salem High School. Salem’s private schools are the Phoenix School and the Greenhouse, as well as the Salem Academy Charter School. Residents are also fortunate in that Salem has its own hospital branch, the North Shore Medical Center. The city of Salem can be reached by way of Routes 1A, 107, 114, 128, by the MBTA bus, MBTA commuter rail, the Salem Ferry, the Beverly Municipal Airport, and by Logan International Airport.