Edgartown, Duke's County, Martha's Vineyard Id., Mass

Author: Walker, George H.
Publisher: Geo. H. Walker & Co.
Date: 1886
Location: Edgartown (Mass.), Martha's Vineyard (Mass.)

Dimensions: 39.0 x 56.0 cm.
Scale: Not drawn to scale
Call Number: G3764.E35A3 1886 .W3


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Drawn as if approaching the town by water, looking in a northwesterly direction, this view is reminiscent of Edgartown's former glory as a whaling port. During the first half of the 19th century, this community was one of New Englands major whaling ports, but following the Civil War the town's fortunes declined as the need for whale oil was replaced by petroleum products. The artist emphasizes the importance of the maritime economy by focusing on the waterfront. In the foreground, the harbor is dotted with many sailing vessels including three that are powered by steam. The most prominent structures along the waterfront are five major wharves and the lighthouse marking the entrance into the harbor. Running parallel to the shore is Water Street, which is densely populated with businesses and residences. Many of the larger houses, designed in the Greek Revival style including widow's walks visible on the roof tops, were built by prosperous ship captains in the 1830s and 1840s. Just right of center is the Methodist Church (identified by letter the H). Built with funds from the profits of the whaling industry, it is the largest church on the island and is known as the Old Whaling Church. By the 1880s, Edgartown, as well as the entire island, was emerging as a summer resort. A large circular inset in the lower left corner depicts Mattakesett Lodge near South Beach. This image, suggesting a rising sun, provides evidence of this new economic activity. Circa 1886.

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