Manchester-by-the-Sea (also “Manchester”) is a town on Cape Ann, in Essex County, Massachusetts. It was first settled by Europeans in 1629 and was officially incorporated in 1645. The community thrived primarily as a fishing community. Its economy shifted to that of a Boston area summer colony, starting in 1845, when Richard Dana, a Boston-based poet, built a house there. Over the next fifty years, development of summer houses along the coastline established the community as Boston society’s community of choice for summer residency.
The town lies along the North Shore of Massachusetts Bay, which in turn leads to the Atlantic Ocean. There are seven beaches along the coast, dotted by several small islands. Several small coves line the coast, as well, the largest of which is Manchester Harbor. Several protected areas fall within town, including the Cedar Swamp Conservation Area, the Cheever Commons Conservation Area, the Owl’s Nest Nature Preservation Land, the Powder House Hill Reservation and the Wyman Hill Conservation Area.
Located one mile from the town center is Singing Beach, so named because the sand comprising the beach squeaks when walked upon. This beach is quite popular during the summer months in particular, as it is easily accessible from Boston by a half-mile walk from the MBTA train station. Also located on this historic beach is the famous rock composite known as Eaglehead.