|• Type||Open town meeting|
|• Total||18.3 sq mi (47.3 km2)|
|• Land||9.2 sq mi (23.9 km2)|
|• Water||9.0 sq mi (23.4 km2)|
|Elevation||30 ft (9 m)|
|• Density||300/sq mi (110/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (Eastern)|
|Area code(s)||351 / 978|
|GNIS feature ID||0619451|
Manchester-by-the-Sea (also known simply as Manchester, its name prior to 1989) is a town on Cape Ann, in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The town is known for scenic beaches and vista points. At the 2020 census, the population was 5,395.
The town lies on the southern side of Cape Ann, at the point where the peninsula meets the mainland. The North Shore was populated by the Agawam people prior to European settlement, which began in 1629, about a decade after an epidemic killed much of the native people. Fishing was the major industry in the town almost from its incorporation in 1645, but in the mid-19th century it began to grow as a popular seaside resort community. The town has appeared, either by name or as a filming location, in a number of films and TV shows, notably the eponymous 2016 film Manchester by the Sea.
Native Americans inhabited what would become northeastern Massachusetts for thousands of years prior to European colonization of the Americas. The area that would become Manchester was inhabited by Agawam people at the time of contact in the early 1600s, who were decimated by virgin soil epidemics especially in 1617–1619, after which fewer than 50 indigenous individuals are estimated to have survived within the modern bounds of Manchester.
Manchester was first settled by English colonists in 1629 and was officially incorporated in 1645. It was formed from territory taken from Salem (that portion since given to Beverly) and Gloucester. In 1700, Manchester selectmen paid three grandchildren of Agawam sachem Masconomet three pounds and nineteen shillings for the rights to the land.
The community thrived primarily as a fishing community for more than 200 years. Beginning in 1845, it started to attract summer residents from the Boston area after poet Richard Dana built a house in the town. Over the next fifty years, development of summer houses along the coastline established the community as Boston society's community of choice for summer residency. The trend continued with designs of houses by architects, such as "Sunny Waters", designed by John Hubbard Sturgis for his older brother, Russell, in 1862.
The best known of these "summer cottages" was Kragsyde, built on Smith's Point in 1883. Commissioned by George Nixon Black, the Peabody and Stearns-designed residence has been hailed as the zenith of the Shingle style substyle of the Queen Anne style of architecture. It was demolished in 1929.
To prevent confusion with the nearby and much larger city of Manchester, New Hampshire, the name of the town was officially changed in 1989 following a close town meeting vote that year, where it passed by just two votes. This was ratified by an act of the state legislature passed on September 25, 1989. "Manchester by the Sea" was a familiar alternative town name since it was first used in 1877 by Boston publisher James T. Fields while attending an annual summer picnic of the "Manchester Elder Brethren" that still takes place today.
The name change was driven by Edward Corley, a longtime resident of Manchester. All town documents, and the town seal, now use the name "Manchester-by-the-Sea". As a result of some minor resident activism, so do the majority of public and private lists of Massachusetts cities and towns, including that of the state government.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 18.3 square miles (47.3 km2), of which 9.2 square miles (23.9 km2) is land and 9.0 square miles (23.4 km2), or 49.47%, is water. The town lies along the North Shore of Massachusetts Bay, which in turn leads to the Atlantic Ocean. There are seven beaches lining the coast, and several small islands dot the coast, the largest being Kettle Island and House Island.
Several small coves edge the coast, the largest being Manchester Harbor, which is fed by Sawmill Brook and other small bodies of water. There are several protected areas within town, including Cedar Swamp Conservation Area, Cheever Commons Conservation Area, Coolidge Reservation, Dexter Pond, Owl's Nest Nature Preservation Land, Powder House Hill Reservation, and Wyman Hill Conservation Area.
Manchester-by-the-Sea is bordered by Beverly and Wenham to the west, Hamilton to the northwest, Essex to the north, and Gloucester to the east. The town is located 9 miles (14 km) northeast of Salem and 24 miles (39 km) northeast of Boston.
Manchester-by-the-Sea lies along Massachusetts Route 128, the inner of two beltways around Greater Boston. Route 128 has two exits within town as it passes from Beverly to Gloucester, with a small portion crossing through the corner of Essex. Route 127 also passes from west to east through town, traveling through the center of town. There is no bus service directly into town, with service passing east via the Cape Ann Transportation Authority in Gloucester, and an MBTA bus route providing service to Beverly.
The town is served by a stop along the Newburyport/Rockport Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail, providing service from Rockport along the North Shore to Boston's North Station. The nearest airport is the Beverly Municipal Airport, with the nearest national and international service at Boston's Logan International Airport.
|* = population estimate. |
Source: United States census records and Population Estimates Program data.
As of the census of 2010, there were 5,136 people, 2,147 households, and 1,444 families residing in the town. The population density was 562.7 people per square mile (217.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.6% White, (5,012); 0.9% Asian, (46); 0.2% Native American, (10); 0.1% African American, (5); 0.1% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.5% (77) of the population. The median income for a household in the town was $95,243, and the median income for a family was $109,760. About 4.5% of families and 5.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.9% of those under age 18 and 3.7% of those age 65 or over.
The local newspaper, The Manchester Cricket, has published weekly since 1888. The newspaper has been owned by just three families since it began. Within the Cricket, there is a special section dedicated to the neighboring town, Essex. This section is called The Essex Echo. The town is also served by a regional newspaper, the Gloucester Daily Times.
The Manchester By The Sea Police Department have been subject to controversy including sexual harassment by sworn officers including allegations "that officials had permitted a sexually hostile environment, and that Christopher Locke, an officer in the police department, made a secret recording of [a young woman], violating the state's wiretap law."
Howard Lewis, who had been appointed as a reserve officer in 2008 and a full-time officer in 2010, had been assigned to the 12 to 8 a.m. shift and served as the department's primary firearms instructor when he was placed on administrative leave amid an internal affairs investigation on Dec. 15, according to Manchester-by-the-Sea Police Chief Edward Conley. An internal affairs investigation determined he stole a firearm from the police station and sold it to a pawn shop for $650.
Manchester By The Sea Police Department Sergeant John "Jay" Swallow was sentenced to jail for the vicious beating of his wife and weapons charges. He engaged in a physical altercation while pointing a hand gun at both his wife and the family dog.
One mile from the town center is Singing Beach, so named because the sand comprising the beach squeaks when walked upon. The sand is an iridescent color when the sun sets. This beach is quite popular during summer months in particular, because it is easily accessible from Boston by a half-mile walk from the MBTA train station. Also located on this historic beach is the famous tourist attraction "Eaglehead", a rock composite that is the focal point of rock climbing and other recreation activities.
The town provided the backdrop for these films:
It was also featured in a season of the TV series This Old House, and was featured in a "Main Streets and Back Roads" episode of Chronicle, a newsmagazine program in New England.
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