A seaport is a port that's built on the sea. It's a point of entry for ships bringing passengers or freight into a city. Seaports can have one or more wharves where ships can dock to load and discharge cargo and passengers.
Gloucester is one of the oldest fishing communities in the United States. In fact, it is the oldest seaport in America. Gloucester is described by the U.S. Department National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration as America's oldest seaport. The Advisory Council On Historic Preservation (ACHP) recognizes Gloucester as America’s oldest seaport. The United States Department Of Agriculture defines the port of Gloucester as the oldest in the country.
Gloucester, located in Massachusetts, has been serving the world as a harvester of quality seafood since 1623 and has been a destination community ever since. Before Boston and Salem, there was Gloucester. Gloucester Harbor was first visited and mapped by Samuel de Champlain in 1605–06, and the site (at Stage Fort Park) was settled by colonists from Dorchester, England, in 1623.
Named for Gloucester, England, and incorporated as a town in 1642, it has flourished as a maritime and fishing center since that time. Its fishermen sailed from the Capes of Virginia to Greenland and Iceland; the Fisherman’s Memorial, a bronze statue facing the harbor, honors those lost at sea (said to total more than 10,000). Since the late 19th century, the traditional Yankee fishermen have been reinforced by Portuguese and Italian immigrants.
The Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center features the oldest continuously operating marine railway in the country, as well as a 19th century mill building and a former ice house. The center provides insight into the relationship between the city’s maritime industrial history and the health of the New England fisheries.
Gloucester’s maritime heritage inspired many books, including Rudyard Kipling’s "Captains Courageous" (1897) and James B. Connolly’s "Gloucestermen" (1930). Norman’s Woe, an area just off Cape Ann, was the setting of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Wreck of the Hesperus.”
Gloucester was also immortalized in the movie "The Perfect Storm". Founded in 1623 by the Dorchester Company, the first settlement in what would in time become the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The land wasn’t good for farming, and at the time, fishing wasn’t the industry it was to become, so the settlement floundered. At least in theory, the earliest settlers were fisherman however, so Gloucester can lay claim to being America’s oldest seaport.
Modern Gloucester has three lighthouses, with three more in Rockport, once part of Gloucester. The city’s heritage resources are featured in a Maritime History of Massachusetts National Register Travel Itinerary (Gloucester and Rockport have 10 of the 22 featured sites in Essex County) and in the Essex National Heritage Area Maritime Guide.
*Note: America has the largest number of seaports in the world with 587 ports.