Salem’s history is intertwined with its harbor and surrounding waters. Even the town’s motto: “To the Farthest Ports of the Rich East” alludes to it. The very first colonists survived by becoming fishermen. Salem would grow from a fine fishing village to be known as a major international trading center peaking in the 18th century thanks to the codfish trade with the West Indies and Europe. The spices these ships brought back would make this town one of the wealthiest in the country. By the end of the 18th century it was the sixth largest city, wealthiest per capita and home to the US’s first millionaire.
Salem an interesting bustling place buzzing with people from around the world. Many languages, smells and aromas permeating the air. Some of the merchandize brought in from around the world was silk, chinaware, paper, coffee, tea, molasses, sugar and rum. A large variety of spices could be purchased and sold here; nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and pepper.
By mid 19th century Salem’s prosperity as a major seaport winded down as New York and Boston which had deeper harbors to accommodate larger vessels took over.
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