Taken from some of the statements by citizens, and even by notable persons in our community; there seems to be a confusion as to where our heritage tourism efforts should be directed. This is important especially with the renewed call of historic preservationists as to where we need to focus our efforts.
In my opinion, Newburyport’s history can be summed up rather simply. 1764 to 1864 is the Romantic Era, 1865- 1964 is the Industrial Revolution Era and 1965 to the present is the Promotional Era. Historians can nitpick on the details – but it is an easy way to understand the makeup of Newburyport’s vast history.
The NRA/HUD recognized the Downtown was Federalist and so the main focus was this period. The National Register of Historic Places has recognized Newburyport as having a large collection of Federalist architecture supplemented by earlier Georgian and later Greek Revival as well as other styles. Mayor Byron Matthews knew the focus would be that particular time period and worked hard to see it through.
It is this Romantic Era, that all heritage tourism should be focused upon. Our city is packed with things of mystery and romance whether underground in tunnels or in buried artifacts on our waterfront. Great things occurred during this time and it will take a lifetime of researching to reveal it all. Everything else that the city has to offer is simply gravy, but we need to focus on the things that will bring visitors to our city. During this period, the following occurred:
|Abolitionists||Great Men||Rum & the Triangle Trade|
Brick Acts of 1811, 1812
|Incredible affluence and Wealth
Indians & Indian Villages
Smugglers & Smuggling
|Civil War||Inventors||The Great Awakening|
|Clamming & Fishing||Lighthouses & Life Saving Stations||The Great Fire of 1811|
|Entrepreneurs||Nation Building||Underground Railroad|
|Explorers||Piracy & Privateering||War of 1812|
|Fur Trade||Political Influence & Power||Whaling|
|Global Shipping||Revolutionary War|
You can and should take the family and drive over to Haverhill, Lawrence and Lowell and have them gaze upon the soul-destroying spectacle of giant looms banging away incessantly. Have them visit the Lawrence Heritage Park and learn about the labor riots and poor working conditions. That is all and good for edifying but that is not what Newburyport’s reputation is based upon.
I am asking you to get on board. Our historic seaport should have brick sidewalks because that was present during this Romantic Era. Sailing vessels should be our focus on the waterfront. Our Federal, Georgian and Greek Architecture should be highlighted and our powerful maritime past should be celebrated and explored. Art and eco-tourism and restaurants are great and add so much to Newburyport but you can get that in other cities and towns too! Let’s identify what draws visitors to our City and focus on that message.