Rockport, Massachusetts

Rockport is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, approximately 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Boston at the tip of the Cape Ann peninsula. It is directly east of Gloucester and is surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean. Only part of the town composes the census-designated place of Rockport.

Before the arrival of the English explorers and colonists, Cape Ann was home to a number of Native American villages, inhabited by members of the Agawam tribe. The area that is now Rockport was an uninhabited part of Gloucester for more than 100 years, primarily used as a source of timber (especially pine) for shipbuilding. Rockport had consisted primarily of large estates, summer homes and a small fishing village, while Gloucester was becoming increasingly urbanized. Rockport became a separate town in 1840. As the demand for its high-grade granite grew during the Industrial Revolution, the quarries of Rockport became a major source of the stone.

Although the demand for granite decreased with the increased use of concrete in construction during the Great Depression, Rockport still thrives as an artists’ colony. A red fishing shack on Bradley Wharf in Rockport, known popularly as Motif Number 1, has for years been one of the most famous sites on Cape Ann, as the subject of literally hundreds of paintings and photographs, visited by aspiring artists and tourists alike from all over the world.

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