In 1966, The National Park Service designated Nantucket as a National Historic Landmark District, calling it the "finest surviving architectural and environmental example of a late 18th- and early 19th-century New England seaport town." Today the island is a favored destination for its pristine beaches and boating activities; for its historic town, villages, and museums; for its cultural activities; and for its multitude of restaurants and inns. Nantucket is the venue for many festivals through the year, from April's annual Daffodil Festival through the Christmas Stroll in December. The island is known as a top summer season resort, but Nantucket is a vibrant community year-round. If you have any questions about Nantucket Island, please use our Ask Nantucket link. Below are some details about our island community...
Island at a Glance:
- Nantucket is a town, a county, and an island, located approx. 26 miles from Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
- Together with the small islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget, Nantucket constitutes the Town of Nantucket
- The island is just under 50 square miles and has 82 miles of beach.
- Nantucket's proximity to the Gulf Stream makes the island 10˚ degrees warmer in the winter and 10˚ degrees cooler in the summer than the mainland.
- The eastern coast of Nantucket was the first place in the U.S. to see the first sunrise of the new millennium.
- Nearly half of Nantucket Island is preserved as open space, largely due to efforts by The Nantucket Islands Land Bank, the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, The Nantucket Land Council, The Massachusetts Audubon Society, and The 'Sconset Trust.
- An 18-hole public golf course is operated by the Nantucket Land Bank. Miacomet Golf Course offers breathtaking views of sandplain grassland, the Atlantic Ocean, and Miacomet Pond.
- Nantucket Cottage Hospital offers a range of services, including emergency, labor & delivery, medical/surgical, chemotherapy & dialysis, resident and visiting physicians and specialists, seasonal clinic to serve summer visitors.
- Nantucket Island has its own police department, fire department, and airport, along with a Coast Guard Station at Brant Point.
- Nantucket has its own public school system, as well as several private schools.
- Year-round population: 10,172+
- Summer population: 50,000+
- Percent change as of July 2014: 6.7%
- Est. median house value in 2013: $873,954
- Median gross rent in 2013: $1,458
- Mean travel time to work: 12 minutes
- In 1659, nine men invested "the sum of thirty pounds…and also two beaver hats, one for myself and one for my wife," to the then owner, Thomas Mayhew, for the purchase of the Nantucket island.
- From the mid-1700s to the late 1830s the island was the whaling capital of the world, with as many as 150 ships making port in Nantucket during its peak.
- Brant Point Lighthouse, built in 1746, was blown down in 1774, burned and was rebuilt in 1782, burned and was rebuilt again in 1783, and was destroyed in a storm in 1788 and rebuilt.
- The novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville was based on a true-life event that occurred in 1820 to the Nantucket whaleship Essex and her crew.
- Cobblestones were laid on Main Street in 1838.
- From 1881 to 1917, a railroad ran from Steamboat Wharf to Surfside, Tom Nevers, and Sconset.
- In 1918, Nantucket was the last community in Massachusetts to lift the ban on automobiles.
- During its whaling days, Nantucket was the third largest city in Massachusetts, with a population of 10,000. Only Boston and Salem were larger.
- There are more than 800 structures on Nantucket that pre-date The Civil War.
- The first American woman astronomer was Nantucketer Maria Mitchell, born in Nantucket in 1818. In 1847 at age 15, using a telescope, she discovered a comet which as a result became known as "Miss Mitchell's Comet." King Frederick VI of Denmark awarded her a gold medal prize for her discovery.
- Nantucket has the largest concentration of Native American place names in the country. The name Nantucket is adapted from similar Algonquian names for the island, perhaps meaning "faraway land or island."
- Nantucketer R.H. Macy (born in 1822) went whaling only once, hated it, and went on to found Macy's retail store in NYC.
- Nantucket desegregated their public schools in 1845, more than a hundred years before the rest of the nation.
- James A. Folger, born and raised on Nantucket, founded the Folger Coffee Company in 1872.
- There are no traffic lights on Nantucket.
- In 1977, Nantucket attempted to secede from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the attempt failed.
- "Widows Walks" are actually called "roofwalks" on Nantucket and were used to pour a bucket of sand down a burning chimney.
- Nantucket Memorial Airport is the second busiest commercial airport in Massachusetts after Logan International Airport in Boston.
- The original "Man from Nantucket" limerick was G-rated.