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9/19/2017 2:28:20 PM

Nantucket Island

Overview - Beaches - Points of Interest - Schools - Chamber of Commerce - Nantucket Lodging

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The name Nantucket is derived from a Native American word meaning "faraway island." After buying the island for forty pounds, Thomas Mahew parceled it out in 1659 to nine shareholders whose family names are still common here. Slowly, Nantucket’s Indian population (originally near 1,500) died out over time.

At the time of the American Revolution, Nantucket was well on its way to becoming a bustling whaling center. The island was considered the "Whaling Capital of the World" from 1800 to 1840. During this economic boom, Nantucket was the third largest city in Massachusetts, with a population of 10,000. Only Boston and Salem were larger. 

Herman Melville based his novel 'Moby Dick' on the true story of the Essex, a Nantucket whaling ship. While whaling off the coast of South America in 1820, it was rammed by a whale. His information source was a mate on the Essex who kept the ship's log.

Eventually, the discovery of oil and the California Gold Rush signaled the end of the whaling era for Nantucket. But the vast wealth had already transformed the island into a estate-filled resort community. After an economic depression, tourism quickly became and today remains the island’s economic mainstay.

In 1955, residents created the Nantucket Historical District to preserve the island’s unique historic character and natural beauty. Today, island building codes are very strict and prohibit commercial architecture that compromises its historic integrity. Of the island's 30,000 acres, 36 percent now falls under the protection of conservation groups like the Nantucket Conservation Foundation and Massachusetts Audubon Society.


  • Brant Point 
  • Children's Beach 
  • Cisco Beach
  • Dionis Beach
  • Francis Street Beach 
  • Jetties Beach 
  • Madaket Beach 
  • Miacomet Beach
  • Nobadeer Beach
  • Pebble Beach
  • Pocomo Point
  • Siasconset Beach
  • Steps Beach
  • Surfside Beach 

Points of Interest

  • Abiah Franlin Fountain 
  • Friends Meetinghouse and Fair Street Museum 
  • Greater Light 
  • Hadwen House 
  • Jethro Coffin House 
  • Nathaniel Macy House 
  • Old Fire Cart House 
  • Old Gaol 
  • Old Mill 
  • Peter Foulger Museum 
  • The 1800 House 
  • Whaling Museum 


  • Children's House of Nantucket
    7 Pheasant Dr.
  • Cyrus Peirce Middle School
    10 Surfside Rd.
  • Nantucket Elementary School
    30 Surfside Rd.
  • Nantucket High School
    10 Surfside Rd.
  • Nantucket Island School of Design & the Arts
    23 Wauwinet Rd.
  • Nantucket New School
    45 Surfside Rd.
  • The Preservation Institute 
    11 Centre St.
  • Small Friends on Nantucket, Inc.
    Manta Dr.
  • St. Paul's Nursery School
    20 Fair St.
  • Strong Wings
    30 Surfside Rd., Box
  • Traditional Lightship Basket School
    Box 1370
  • UMass - Field Station
    180 Polpis Rd.
  • Wee Whalers
    16 Newtown Rd.

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