New Bedford, Massachusetts
This is a half shire town of Bristol county, and port of entry, pleasantly situated on the W. side of the Acushnet, a river, or more properly an estuary, connected with Buzzard's bay. The ground on which the town stands rises rapidly from the river, and affords an interesting view from the opposite side.
The upper part of the town is laid out into beautiful streets, which contain many costly and superb dwellings.
This harbor, though not easy of access, is capacious and well secured from winds. A wooden bridge, near the centre of the town, connects it with the village of Fairhaven. A ferry has also been established, on which it is proposed to run a steam boat.
New Bedford was incorporated in 1787, previous to which it constituted a part of the town of Dartmouth. In 1812 the eastern part was set off as a separate township by the name of Fairhaven.
The almost exclusive business of the place is the whale fishery, which commenced before the war of the revolution, and has gradually grown to its present importance. The increase, however, within the last 12 years has been more rapid than during any former period.—The number of ships and brigs now employed is 169. Tonnage of the district, in 1837, 85,130 tons.
There are 16 oil manufactories, at which a large amount of oil and candles is made. A considerable quantity of the oil imported is, however, sold in the crude state to other places.
The manufactures of the town consist of leather, boots, shoes, hats, iron castings, axes, chairs, tin and cabinet wares, vessels, salt, cordage, soap, Prussian blue, paper hangings, carriages, looking-glass frames, and carpenter's tools: the total value, for the year ending April 1, 1837, including oil and candles, amounted to $690,800. There were imported during that year, 2,472,735 gallons of oil, and 305,170 pounds of whale bone, the value of which was $1,750,832. The capital invested in the whale fishery was $4,210,000. The number of hands employed was 4,000.
Few places in Massachusetts have increased in population more rapidly than this. By the census of 1790, the population of the village was about 700. In 1830, the township contained 7,592; in 1833, 9,200, and in 1837, 14,304.
Within a few years, the inhabitants of this town have manifested a commendable liberality in providing the means of education. There is a flourishing academy in the town, and large sums are annually appropriated for the maintenance of public and private schools.
A rail-road will soon be constructed from this place, to meet the Boston and Providence, at Seekonk, by the way of Fall River; or to meet the Taunton rail-road at Taunton. By either of those routes, a trip to Boston or New York, would be very pleasant. A large and wealthy town, highly flourishing in its commerce and manufactures like this, with the neighboring islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, seem to require it.
New Bedford lies 52 miles S. from Boston, 52 N.W. from Nantucket, 14 E. by S. from Fall River, 20 S.S.E. from Taunton, and 214 N.E. by E. from New York.