Image: Salem (Massachusetts)

Salem (Massachusetts)

Salem (Massachusetts), city in Essex County, northeastern Massachusetts, on Salem Bay (an arm of Massachusetts Bay). It is a professional service and tourist center with some light manufacturing industries. Points of interest include Salem Maritime National Historic Site, which encompasses the Derby Wharf and the Custom House (1819); the Peabody Museum (1868), featuring maritime and ethnographical exhibits; the Essex Institute, a historical museum; the Witch House (1642), the scene of some preliminary hearings in the Salem witch trials; the Salem Witch Museum; Pioneer Village, a re-creation of early 17th-century Salem; the birthplace of the author Nathaniel Hawthorne; the House of the Seven Gables (1668), the setting of Hawthorne`s novel of the same name; and a number of other stately 17th- and 18th-century homes. The city is also the site of Salem State College (1854). Salem was first settled in 1626. The famous witchcraft trials, which led to the execution of 20 people, were held here in 1692. Salem later grew as a port and by 1790 it was one of the 12 largest communities in the United States. Salem was incorporated as a city in 1836, and remained an important center of world trade until about 1850. A fire in 1914 destroyed much of the city. Population 38,220 (1980); 38,091 (1990); 40,407 (2000); 41,756 (2005 estimate).

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