Created By: New Bedford Preservation Society
Waterfront Historic District Walking Tour
The New Bedford Historic Commission states:
New Bedford began its rapid growth as a whaling port shortly after the town’s establishment in the early 1760s. By 1840, New Bedford had superseded Nantucket as the nation’s leader in the whaling industry and maintained that position until the growth of the petroleum industry. The discovery of oil in Pennsylvania in 1859 started the slow decline of the American whaling and ended on August 20, 1925 when the last whaling vessel returned to New Bedford.
The Waterfront Historic District received its designation as a 40c Historic District in June of 1981. It encompasses the original ten-acre lot purchased by Joseph Rotch in 1785 from Joseph Russell’s farm to the "Ten Acre Plot.” Joseph Rotch gave the area its namesake “Bedford Village.” It was the commercial hub of the early whaling industry. Many of the support businesses of the whaling industry that were in this area included coopers, ship chandlers, insurance brokers, candle house and oil factories. These buildings are representative of structures that would be found in the commercial district of a major New England seaport of that period. In addition to the primary buildings, the district contains good examples of smaller Federal and Greek Revival buildings with shops on the ground floor and living quarters above.
Tour Curated by: Jan Da Silva
Tour Produced by: Patricia Daughton
New Bedford Whaling Musuem
New Bedford Free Public Library
This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.