THINK OF CAPE ANN as Cape Cod’s saltier sister, a hard-working fishing community that’s about as old as the Plymouth Colony. It’s weathered and welcoming, bucolic and blue-collar. In other words, it’s as quintessentially New England as a dropped “r.”
Its briny appeal partly explains why this cape, located about an hour outside of Boston, Massachusetts, seems to hide in plain sight compared to much-ballyhooed Cape Cod. Yet its combination of charming seascapes and colonial history have turned this spit of sand into an artistic hub—one with a storied past.
Schools of artists have flooded these ship-strewn shores for centuries—painters and poets like Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and T.S. Eliot were drawn to the wildness of the sea, while sculptors like Walker Hancock and Paul Manship (creator of Rockefeller Center’s golden Prometheus statue) came for Cape Ann’s abundant granite quarries.
“I think it’s fair to say that Gloucester Harbor is probably America’s most painted harbor,” says Oliver Barker, director of the Cape Ann Museum, located blocks away from the water in the main city, Gloucester.