GLOUCESTER, MASS. Fishing city has a long history
Walking tours are a perfect way to see the history of this Massachusetts town.
By NANCY JOHNGRASS
For centuries, fishermen have been lost at sea, and families in small fishing towns have mourned their passing.
Gloucester, Mass., is no exception. It is perhaps one of the more famous fishing towns, not only for its history and its share of tragedy and loss, but also for the deadly storm depicted in the movie "The Perfect Storm."
The movie was filmed in Gloucester and tells the tale of six fishermen aboard the fishing vessel the Andrea Gail who lost their lives in an October 1991 storm.
Reminders of the movie can be found all around Gloucester. There's the "Crow's Nest," the local bar where the ship's crew gathered for a last drink before each trip and where autographed photos of the movie crew, including George Clooney, line the walls.
The bar looks much the same as it was portrayed in the movie, complete with local fishermen drinking and telling stories. Just down the street, the Cape Pond Ice Company sits at the edge of the water ready to ice down fishing boats like it did for the Andrea Gail. Visitors also can tour the Cape Pond Ice Company, home of "the coolest guys around," and pick up a souvenir T-shirt or hat.
Other "Perfect Storm" memorabilia can be found in local stores, and the movie and the book are readily available as mementos of a stop in Gloucester.
For a more expansive look at the city and its working port, take the Gloucester Maritime Trail, a self-guided walking tour of America's first seaport. There are four distinct walking tours, each about a mile long, including the Settlers Walk, Vessels View, Painters Path and the Downtown Heritage Trail.
Each tour offers a different look at the city and affords dozens of interesting and informative stops along the tour. For a real taste of the sights and sounds of Gloucester, spend the day enjoying this tour.
This nine-stop part of the tour offers harbor views, historical forts and war memorials and includes the Fishermen's Memorial or "The Man at the Wheel" statue. The statue was originally made famous in the movie "Captains Courageous" and later in "The Perfect Storm."
Names of those lost at sea are engraved along with the year they were lost. Over 10,000 Gloucester fishermen lost their lives at sea; standing at the memorial, looking out over the water, you can almost feel their spirits today.
Along the walk, you can visit and even climb "Tablet Rock," which has a commemorative plaque marking the site and date of the founding of Gloucester in 1623 as an original Massachusetts Bay Colony. Nearby Trail High Point offers an outstanding view overlooking the city and the harbor.
Six stops along this part of the tour include historic Main Street, Gorton's main fish processing plant, an active fishing pier, scenic park, historic church and the waterfront where this bustling working port comes to life.
East Gloucester affords views of some of the most beautiful homes in the area and is home to Rocky Neck Art Colony, where some of America's most famous artists, including Winslow Homer, lived and worked. Still a thriving artists' colony today, the area offers some of the finest galleries, plenty of unique shops and restaurants that offer the fresh catches of the day.
DOWNTOWN HERITAGE TRAIL
A walk along the bustling waterfront among the area's oldest and most elegant homes brings the past and the present together in one exciting place. Gus Foote Park offers a place to catch the Water Shuttle for a waterside view of the harbor and St. Peter Square, the town landing, allows a closer look at city buildings dating back as far as 1764.
The Fitz Hugh Lane House allows an up-close and personal view of the harbor from the home of Fitz Hugh Lane, the American painter famous for his seascapes.