About the Area
Salem was founded at the mouth of the Naumkeag river in 1626 at the site of an ancient Native American village and trading center by a company of fishermen from Cape Ann led by Roger Conant, and incorporated in 1629. Conant’s leadership had provided the stability to survive the first two years, but he was immediately replaced by John Endicott, one of the new arrivals, by order of the Dorchester Company. Conant graciously stepped aside and was granted 200 acres of land in compensation. These “New Planters” and the “Old Planters” agreed to cooperate, in large part due to the diplomacy of Conant and Endicott. In recognition of this peaceful transition to the new government, the name of the settlement was changed to Salem, a corruption of the Hebrew word ‘shalom’.
Salem was one of the most significant seaports in early America. It has the first National Historic Site designated by Congress, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, which protects Salem's historic waterfront.
Featured notably in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, much of the city's cultural identity is reflective of its role as the location of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692: Police cars are adorned with witch logos, a local public school is known as the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, the Salem High School football team is named The Witches, and Gallows Hill, a site of numerous public hangings, is currently used as a playing field for various sports.
Tourists know Salem as a mix of important historical sites, funky New Age boutiques, and popular Halloween or witch-themed attractions.