|Rockport: A Brief History and Orientation|
You hear the phrase "quaint seacoast village" so often that it becomes a cliché, but this description fits Rockport well. An enjoyable place to spend a day, weekend or vacation, Rockport welcomes tourists from around the world and day trippers from greater Boston for a variety of reasons.
A Brief History
During the mid 1800s, artists and writers came to the area, inspired by the area's rugged scenic beauty. The first art studio was established in 1873, and traveling artists roamed the streets at this time looking for portraits and scenes to paint. For years since, Rockport has been an important contributor to American painting, sculpture and other art forms, and one of the attractions to Rockport are the number of galleries here, some with international reputations.
A Little Orientation:
The town of Rockport consists of three primary areas: The South End, Downtown and Pigeon Cove.
The South End is mainly made up of residential areas along the rocky coastline, a beautiful area for a drive, walk or bike ride. There are several inns in this area, and this is a nice area to stay if you prefer quiet, out of the way spot. The Downtown is the center of activity, most located along Dock Square, Bearskin Neck and Main Street. Bearskin Neck, named by fishermen who saw the bearskin John Babson had left to dry on the rocks, is known for its artists who have set up their shops in the fishermen's shacks of the past. These art studios are now mixed in with a number of other specialty shops and restaurants, and "walking the neck" can interest you for a few hours or a few days, when combined with the adjacent shops and restaurants on Main Street and throughout Dock Square. It is on Bearskin Neck that the famous "Motif #1", one of the most painted and photographed scenes in America, which has been featured in the "America The Beautiful" exhibit at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. This lobster shack is no longer in use, but is kept up as a town symbol. The entire downtown area, with its large number of restaurants and small eateries, shops, galleries and other offerings, is an attraction in and of itself, and bustles with activity just about all year. There are also boat tours that leave from the wharves here on whale watch and other excursions. There is also a great beach right in the village, which is Front Beach. It is sandy, flat and offers a great view of Sandy Bay and Bearskin Neck, and there are lifeguards and public bathrooms in season.
The Rockport Music Festival is an annual event whose popularity grows with each passing year. It runs during the month of June and a number of renowned musicians perform a wide variety of musical styles.
Located on Gott Street off of Rte. 127, Halibut Point State Park offers a self-guided walking tour of the Babson Farm Quarry, which details the history of the granite industry. A visitors center, which features exhibits related to the park's natural and cultural history, is located in a renovated World War II fire-control tower near the edge of the quarry. On weekends, from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, staff and volunteers offer quarry tours. Each Saturday morning tour includes a granite-cutting demonstration. The park is open from 8 am to 8 p.m. daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day and sunrise to sunset from Labor Day to Memorial Day. There is a $2 parking fee.
Open 10 am to 5 p.m. daily with an admission donation of $1, the Paper House was built in 1924 with specially rolled and treated old newspapers. Located at 52 Pidgeon Hill Street, it's also furnished with items made entirely of newspapers.
Sandy Bay Historical Society is made up of two museums, the Sewall Scripture House, located at 40 King Street, and the Old Castle, located on Granite Street. The exhibits feature the granite industry, local artwork, Hannah Jumper and the area's genealogy. There is a small admission fee.
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