I have been looking back at some of my older digital pictures. The first vacation I took with a digital camera was to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and a little piece of Maine in the fall of 2005. Although I had been there before, none of my destinations struck me the way Salem did. Not only for its history of witchcraft, though there was plenty there. Not only for its literary history, what with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Customs House and the actual House of the Seven Gables. And not only for its Federalist architecture, what with whole streets with houses built before 1800. Probably what struck me about Salem was the density of its historical sights, almost as if I were in parts of London or Paris.
There was no doubt about it: Salem, Massachusetts, played an outsize role in American history. Its ships ranged the seas to China, as shown in the Peabody Essex Museum. In fact, I found it to be better than Boston for its highly concentrated slice of early American history.
Only a short train ride from Boston, I found Salem to be a better place to base oneself than Boston. And a whole lot less crowded! There seems to be several hundred colleges in the Boston area, and the students always seemed to be using the same public transit that Martine and I were.