Salem (Massachusetts)

Salem City Hall - Greek Revival Architecture, constructed in 1838 by architect Richard Bond (1797-1861) and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Salem is a city in Massachusetts, New England. The city is well worth a day-trip from Boston, or even a trip in its own right, to see what basically amounts to a three-dimensional textbook of American architectural history.


Salem is best known for the "Salem Witch trials" even though the hysteria really started in what is now Danvers. Police cars are adorned with witch logos, a local public school is known as the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, the Salem High School athletic teams are named the Witches; and Gallows Hill, a site of numerous public hangings, is currently used as a playing field for various sports. Tourists know Salem as a mix of important historical sites, New Age and Wiccan boutiques, kitschy Halloween, witch-themed attractions and a vibrant downtown that a large number of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. The 15th Annual Retailers Association of Massachusetts awarded Salem as the best place to shop in 2012.

Home to Salem State University, the Salem Willows Park and the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem is a residential and tourist area which includes the neighborhoods of Salem Neck, The Point, South Salem and North Salem, Witchcraft Heights, Pickering Wharf, and the McIntire Historic District (named after Salem's famous architect and carver, Samuel McIntire who connected many of the homes he had built to the smuggling tunnels in the city). Salem was one of the most significant seaports in early America and during the American Revolution, Salem became a center for privateering. Although the documentation is incomplete, about 1,700 Letters of Marque, issued on a per-voyage basis, were granted during the American Revolution. Nearly 800 vessels were commissioned as privateers and are credited with capturing or destroying about 600 British ships. By 1790, Salem had become the sixth largest city in the country, and a world-famous seaport—particularly in the China Trade, along with exporting codfish to Europe and the West Indies, importing sugar and molasses from the West Indies, tea from China, and products depicted on the city seal from the East Indies – in particular Sumatran pepper. Salem ships also visited Africa – Zanzibar in particular, Russia, Japan, and Australia. The Old China Trade left a significant mark in two historic districts, Chestnut Street District, part of the Samuel McIntire Historic District containing 407 buildings, and the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, consisting of 12 historic structures and about 9 acres (36,000 m2) of land along the waterfront in Salem. Elias Hasket Derby was among the wealthiest and most celebrated of post-Revolutionary merchants in Salem, and owner of the Grand Turk, the first New England vessel to trade directly with China.

In 1637 the first muster was held on Salem Common, where for the first time a regiment of militia drilled for the common defense of a multi-community area, thus laying the foundation for what became the Army National Guard. President Barack Obama signed into law on the 10th of January 2013 executive order HR1339 "which designates the City of Salem, Mass., as the birthplace of the U.S. National Guard." Each April, the Second Corps of Cadets gather in front of Saint. Peter's Episcopal Church, where their founder, Stephen Abbott, is buried. They lay a wreath, play "Taps" and fire a 21-gun salute. In another annual commemoration, soldiers gather at Old Salem Armory to honor soldiers who were killed in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. On April 14, 2012, Salem celebrated the 375th anniversary of the first muster on Salem Common with more than 1,000 troops taking part in ceremonies and a parade.

Get in

By plane

Logan International Airport, +1-800-23-LOGAN (56426), (IATA: BOS) in Boston. Take the subway to the train (see below).

By train

By boat

The Salem Ferry approaching its dock off Blaney Street

Get around

By foot

Salem is a small town with most tourist attractions within a stretch that is roughly a twenty-five minute walk across.

By bike

By taxi

By car

Salem has eight stations to charge your electric car. Four are located at the Museum Place Mall near the Peabody Essex Museum and the other four are in the South Harbor garage across the street from the Salem Waterfront Hotel. The no cost will be for two years starting in January of 2013 and the program will allow for six hour of charging.


Attractions & museums

The Peabody Essex Museum

Historic homes

Located in the Samuel McIntyre Historic District - 34 Chestnut Street by Samuel McIntire (1800)
9 Chestnut Street in the Samuel McIntyre Historic District by Samuel McIntire (1805)
Located on one of the most historic streets in America at 80 Federal Street in the Samuel McIntyre Historic District (1782)


Salem Waterfront at the National Historic Site

The Friendship of Salem docked on the Salem Waterfront at the National Historic Site

On March 17, 1938, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site became the first national historic site in the National Park System and consists of 9 acres of land, 12 historic buildings, and a visitor center along the Salem waterfront. The Salem Maritime National Historic Site, a vital cog in the wheel of the infamous Atlantic triangular trade between Europe, the west coast of Africa and the Caribbean during the colonial period; the role of privateering during the Revolutionary War; and international maritime trade, especially with the Far East, which established American economic independence after the Revolution.

The Custom House in Salem

A short boat ride from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site are the Misery Islands, a nature reserve in Salem Sound, which was established in 1935 and is managed by the Trustees of Reservations. The islands' name come from shipbuilder Robert Moulton who was stranded on the islands during a winter storm in the 1620s. The island, in the past, has been home to a club with a golf course and subsequently about two dozen cottages. The island is now uninhabited. A short walk from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site are the Chestnut Street District, Federal Street District, Downtown Salem District, Bridge Street Neck Historic District, Charter Street Historic District, Crombie Street District, Derby Waterfront District, Essex Institute Historic District, Salem Willows Historic District, Old Town Hall Historic District & the Salem Common Historic District. A short distance from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site is Winter Island, an extension of Salem Neck which juts out into Salem Harbor.

Salem - 1820


There are several boutiques in the downtown area that cater to the occult, including the Magic Parlour, The Broom Closet, and Crow Haven Corner--the last of which was originally opened by Laurie Cabot, the first public Witch in Salem and author of numerous occult books. She no longer owns the store, but operates another on nearby Pickering Wharf called the Cat, Crow and Crown.



Desserts & Chocolate




Go next

Panorama of Crane Beach in September 2007
Routes through Salem

Boston Lynn  SW  NE  Beverly Newburyport/Rockport

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