Located about 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts and twenty-four miles off the coast of Southern New England, Nantucket is a tiny island with sunbaked, perfectly windswept, beautiful beaches, which makes it a premier summer destination. The island’s pristine beauty stretches for 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide. The name "Nantucket" is believed to be derived from a Wampanoag word meaning "in the midst of waters," or "far away island. Nantucket is nicknamed "The Little Grey Lady of the Sea" because of its appearance from the ocean when it is fog-bound. Nantucket is distinct for boasting some of the finest and most authentic surviving architecture and landscape, reminiscent of a late 18th and early 19th century New England seaport town.
The original inhabitants of Nantucket were the Native American Wampanoag people, who lived undisturbed in the region until 1641, when the island was deeded by the British William, Earl of Stirling to Thomas Mayhew of Watertown, Massachusetts Bay. Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, an English Mariner, who chartered the “elbow of sand” and discovered Nantucket in 1602 is believed to be the first to spot the island, but he never stepped onto its soil. From 1683 to 1691, Nantucket was part of Dukes County, New York, then it became a part of the newly formed Province of Massachusetts Bay and eventually split off to form Nantucket County. It was not until 1659 that British settlement of Nantucket took place, when Thomas Mayhew sold his interest to a group of investors, including Tristram Coffin,, Peter Coffin, Thomas Macy, Christopher Hussey, Richard Swain, Thomas Barnard, Stephen Greenleaf, John Swain and William Pike, who are regarded as the founding fathers of Nantucket.
Between 1750 and 1850, Nantucket established a vibrant whaling industry, but offshore whaling began as early as 1673. It is said that the islanders took to whaling because Nantucket’s sandy, dry, poor-nutrient soil was not conducive to farming. By 1766, dozens of whaling ships were going out of Nantucket and by 1819, it was regarded as the “Whaling Capital of the World.” The whaling industry was lucrative business, which made Nantucket and other seaports rich.
A tradition of the summer vacation was established by the 1880s, and Nantucket became a hotspot for the tourism industry and is still a magnet today, drawing people to its natural and constant beauty. Picture an island with miles of splendid beaches and a landscape featuring moors, cranberry bogs, grasslands, aromatic flowers, church steeples, lighthouses, windmill, and breathtaking sunsets, Nantucket still remains a treasure.
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