New Bedford

The old fishing schooner ERNESTINA at New Bedford Harbor.

New Bedford is in Massachusetts on the southern coast. New Bedford's excellent harbor made it a natural fishing and whaling center. It was the world's premier whaling port in the nineteenth and for a time "the richest city in the world" and "the city that lit the world" because of whale oil production.


New Bedford is a city of around 100,000 people, many of Portuguese (particularly Madeira) or Cape Verdean ancestry, still with a great many off the boat immigrants from both. The city has gone through strongly contrasting cycles of poverty and wealth, from its relatively late (by Southeast Massachusetts standards) settlement and foundation, to the peaque of the whaling industry, its growth as a textile city in the 20th Century, and the subsequent crash brought on by rapid mill closure in the latter 20th Century. It's been known as one of the rougher, seedier locales of New England for a number of decades now, but it's strongly on the upswing since the historic center was declared a federally protected historic site in 1996. While you'll still find plenty of slums, projects, and tenements throughout the city, you'll also find the waterfront full of narrow cobblestone streets and alleyways, historic 18th and 19th Century buildings, and upscale restaurants and museums. It's also one of the only fortified cities in the US, featuring an impressive (and walkable) gated harbor wall that runs from the South End cove across the mouth of the Acushnet river to neighboring Fairhaven. Additionally, there are pockets of grandeur in most parts of the city, with a long stretch of Victorian mansions on County Street that features some truly jaw-dropping architecture, akin to Newport's humbler dwellings. Though the downtown is perfectly safe at night these days, many neighborhoods are still dangerous and walking through them is not advised.

Get in

By plane

By car

Route 93 South (13 miles). The highway forks in Braintree; stay right. Sign reads: "93 South, Dedham-Providence." (3 miles). Take exit 4 onto Route 24 South. This is a left lane exit (24 miles). Take exit 12 off Route 24 onto Route 140 South (19 miles) until Exit 2E: Interstate 195 East (1.3 miles) to Exit 15: Downtown - Route 18 South (1.1 miles). TURN RIGHT at lights onto Elm Street. Public parking garage two blocks on right.

Route 6 West to Route 25 to Interstate 195 West, Exit 15: "Downtown - Route 18 South". TURN RIGHT at lights onto Elm Street. Public parking garage two blocks on right.

Interstate 95 North to Interstate 195 East, Exit 15: "Downtown - Route 18 South". TURN RIGHT at lights onto Elm Street. Public parking garage two blocks on right.

Get around


New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park

New Bedford whaling NHP area



North Water Street


Try nearby towns for other hotels and motels.

Bed and Breakfast


Consular services

Go next

Fairhaven and Westport are neighboring towns. Boston, Cape Cod and Newport are popular tourist destinations.

Routes through New Bedford

Providence Dartmouth  W  E  Fairhaven Wareham
Providence Dartmouth  W  E  Fairhaven Provincetown

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, September 12, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.