The land that now includes the city was purchased from the Wampanoag tribe in the mid-17th century. Following the establishment of an English/Quaker settlement around 1700, the area became a hub for the whaling industry over the next 150 years. Today, the harbor supports New Bedford’s primary industry, fishing.
At the heart of this district is the park’s visitor center. Groups typically start in this historical building by watching a 20-minute introductory movie, “The City that Lit the World,” and viewing the exhibits on the city and its whaling heritage.
Beyond offering a look at whaling history, the park’s attractions also shine a light on the influences of Native Americans, African-Americans and the Quakers, as well as the impact local residents such as Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville had on New Bedford.
Ranger-led tours cover cultural sites in the downtown and harbor areas and include tales of seafaring whalemen, escaped slaves seeking freedom and hundreds of years of life along the Massachusetts coast. As they roam the area’s cobblestone streets, groups can see centuries-old buildings alongside modern galleries and contemporary restaurants.
The historical park is open year-round, seven days a week, except from Jan. 1–March 31, when it is open Wednesday to Sunday.
To learn more, call +1.508.996.4095 or go to nps.gov/nebe.
Top photo: New Bedford Whaling Museum
Photo by CC Wikimedia Commons/Pb55: bit.ly/2ACzF4v