History of the Region

Home to America’s oldest seaport and art colony, the rich cultural history of Gloucester and Cape Ann is bound to spark your interest. There are dozens of museums and historical sites on Cape Ann. You can learn how ships are made, see how people lived 300 years ago and visit memorials to fishermen and their families.

1997 – Warner Brothers adapts Sebastian Junger’s book ‘Perfect Storm’ for the big screen. Films tale of the FV Andrea Gail in Gloucester.

1994 – The first annual Gloucester Seafood Festival is held in celebration of the city’s maritime and historic significance as America’s oldest working seaport.

1988 – The Adventure is brought back to Gloucester as a living museum to the great age of sail. The 121 foot schooner is now a National Historic Landmark, and on Gloucester’s Maritime Trail walking tour.

1953 – The last of the great fishing schooners, The Adventure, makes her final trip, marking the end of the age of sail.

1929 – John Hays Hammond, holder of over 800 U.S. patents, finishes his grand Hammond Castle overlooking Norman’s Woe Rock, the setting of Longfellow’s The Wreck of the Hesperus

1925 – Clarence Birdseye invents frozen packaging of fish, patents the process and later sells it to General Foods, former owner of the world famous Gorton’s of Gloucester seafood company.

1923 – North Shore Arts Association is founded, the largest collection of art by Cape Ann artists exhibited in the history of New England. Many members become internationally recognized including Fitz Hugh Lane and Winslow Homer.

1895 – Joshua Slocum embarks from Gloucester on the first solo round-the-world voyage in the “Spray”.

1893 – The Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage is built, housing the first carillon (a series of chromatic bells) built in America.

1891 – Gloucester becomes increasingly popular as a visitor destination. The first fashionable hotels are built, including the Hawthorne Inn, built by George O. Stacy.

1883 – Gloucester dory fisherman Howard Blackburn, lost off the coast of Newfoundland in a storm, rows for 4 days with his dead dory mate, his hands frozen to the oars. He returns to Gloucester months later, a legend and symbol of the toughness of the fisherman. Blackburn later sails solo across the Atlantic.

1879 – The worst year in Gloucester history — 249 fisherman are lost at sea.

1876 – Local fisherman Alfred Johnson becomes the first to sail alone across the Atlantic Ocean.

1862 – Gloucester arguably becomes the largest fishing port in the world. Fifteen of seventy schooners fishing Georges Bank are lost at sea, creating 70 widows and 140 fatherless children.

1840 – The Great Blizzards of 1839 inspire great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to write The Wreck of the Hesperus.

Sandy Bay portion of Gloucester incorporates as the Town of Rockport

1819 – Essex, one of the original shipbuilding centers of New England, is incorporated as a town.

1790 – Judith Sargent Murray, self-educated philosopher and political strategist, publishes her essay, “On The Equality Of The Sexes”, the first argument for women’s equality found in American literature.

1779 – The first Universalist Church in America is founded in Gloucester. Its spire still adorns Gloucester’s skyline.

1713 – The first schooner is launched. The superior speed and seaworthiness of this vessel, invented in Gloucester, allowed fisherman to reach new fishing grounds.

1700 – Masconomo, the sagamore of the Agawam Indian nation, is paid 3 pounds and 19 shillings for all land rights to Manchester-by-the-Sea

1623 – Three years after the Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock, a group from that colony arrives in Gloucester Harbor while looking for favorable fishing grounds. At the present spot of Stage Fort Park, the first fishing stages (drying areas) are built and a small temporary settlement is established.

1623 – Immigrants from The Dorchester Company of England permanently settle the area and name it Gloucester, after Gloucester, England.

For more information on the area, check out the Cape Ann Wikipedia Page!