History of New Bedford
A glorious past with a bright future
The history of New Bedford as recorded by the English began four centuries
ago and pre-dates the Pilgrims of Plymouth by 18 years. English explorer
Bartholomew Gosnold investigated New Bedford's harbor on May 31, 1602 (Julian
Calendar). Gosnold's expedition set out from Falmouth, England, and was
financed in part by the Earl of Southampton, a patron of Shakespeare. Gosnold
named Cape Cod for the abundance of fish he observed there; he named Martha's
Vineyard for his beloved daughter, Martha, and named the Elizabeth Islands for
his queen, Elizabeth I. Some historians place Gosnold's landing on New
Bedford's mainland shore at "Smoking Rocks," a rocky outcropping that once
existed approximately west-northwest of Palmer's Island. The site is now part
of the South Terminal.
In his journal, "Captaine Gosnols Voyage to the North Part of Virginia," fellow voyager John Brereton described the area as "the goodliest Continent that ever we saw, promising more by farre then we any way did expect, also Medowes, and hedged with stately Groves, being furnished also with pleasant Brookes..." The journal also describes the party's first encounter with the peaceable Wampanoag, the Native Americans of this region.
Gosnold's men built a small stockade on the little islet in West End Pond on
Cuttyhunk Island, from which they set forth to explore the surrounding islands
and the mainland. Of particular interest to them was the collection of wild
sassafras. Before returning to England, they decided against leaving a
permanent party behind, as their provisions were low and the crew had reason to
be wary of some of the natives they encountered. Indeed, had they stayed the
winter of 1602, the little stockade on Cuttyhunk, or perhaps New Bedford might
have become the first permanent English settlement in New England. In 2002, the
City of New Bedford, in partnership with regional historical groups, conducted
events in observance of the Gosnold Quadricentennial ........
.( Gosnold Quadricentennial Proclamation )
New Bedford's town charter was granted in 1787, and the first town meeting was held March 21st of that year. Fairhaven and Acushnet were part of New Bedford at that time. In 1812 Fairhaven was set off from New Bedford, but Acushnet was retained for another 48 years until it too was set off in 1860. All three communities were originally part of Dartmouth, which the General Court of Plymouth Colony incorporated on June 8, 1664.
"Old" Dartmouth was then sparsely settled, with isolated farms scattered
over its broad expanse (an area which today comprises Wareham to Westport). In
the 1670's, as settlers advanced rapidly into the interior, conflicts with
Native Americans became more frequent. Natives and settlers were killed and
many dwellings destroyed in this first major conflict in New England between
the two groups. Known as King Philip's War (1675-1676), this widespread and
bloody conflict was so designated for the Chief Sachem, Pometacom, whose name
was Anglicized by the settlers as "Philip."
By the middle of the 18th Century a series of large farms with water frontage, trended up the hillside on the western bank of the Acushnet River within the present area of downtown New Bedford. The farmhouses were built on the crest of the hill along the King's Road, now County Street. Joseph Russell, who lived at the head of William Street, owned one of these widespread tracts. He conceived the idea of selling house lots and establishing a village. His first sale was made in 1760 to John Lowden, a shipwright, who the next year built the first house in Bedford Village on the west side of South Water Street at the head of Commercial Street. Other sales followed, but the project grew slowly. As 'Russell' was the family name of England's famous Duke of Bedford, it was suggested that the name of Bedford be adopted for the new village and its landing in honor of this royal connection. Subsequently the prefix "New" was added when the Commonwealth ratified the township because another town in the State had a prior claim to the original designation.
Among other ventures Joseph Russell engaged in offshore whaling. Under his
leadership the inhabitants of Bedford Village became whalers and shipbuilders.
Around 1780, William Rotch, Jr., a Nantucket Quaker moved to Bedford Village.
Rotch was a third-generation whaling merchant and banker. He immediately set
about focusing his great capital resources developing the whale fishery here.
Rotch gave whaling a substantial impetus, and it continued to be New Bedford's
chief industry for more than a hundred years. Rotch was the owner of the first
ship to be launched in Bedford Village, the Dartmouth, built in 1767. Her
initial voyage was to London with a cargo of whale oil. She was one of the
vessels boarded by the Boston Tea Party in 1773, when Francis, son of Joseph
Rotch, as managing owner, protested the loss of his cargo.
At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Bedford Village was a sizable and flourishing community. Although a large proportion of the residents were Quakers, the village in common with the rest of Dartmouth, did its share in furnishing troops for the war. Privateers made the New Bedford harbor a base for assaulting English shipping. In consequence on September 5, 1778, a large force of British troops landed at Clark's Point, marched into town by way of County Street and attacked Bedford Village. They burned many buildings, shipping, wharves and warehouses, destroying large stores of goods on both sides of the river. They killed four men. It took the little village more than a decade to recover.
New Bedford's founders began early to care for the affairs of religion and education. The first ecclesiastical body organized in Old Dartmouth was established by the Society of Friends (the Quakers) in 1699, and the first Congregational Church in the town dates from 1708. Regarding an unverified tradition that this church had its origin in 1696, it can be said there was unorganized preaching to that denomination probably prior to 1700. The early Baptists listened to sermons by John Cooke, a prominent Dartmouth resident and Mayflower passenger, but evidently had no established church in that ear.
The New Bedford Monthly Meeting of Friends emerged from the Dartmouth Monthly Meeting in 1792. The first Congregational meetinghouse in New Bedford was built in 1795 at William and Purchase Streets. The first schoolhouse in Bedford Village was built on Johnnycake Hill in 1766 on the site of the Seaman's Bethel or just south of it.
The young town continued to flourish. In 1801 there were 185 dwellings, with
a population of 5,600. By 1805, the housing stock had increased dramatically,
to 300. The Bedford Bank had been incorporated in 1803, and marine insurance
companies were formed to protect the investments in the whaling enterprise and
the town's maritime commerce. Trading with coastwise ports, with the West
Indies and the East Indies, and with European centers had also begun.
New Bedford's prosperity continued to grow, based on three major industries in each of which the community attained preeminence. They were: whaling, the manufacture of fine cotton goods, and the general fisheries. Of these original three, only the commercial fishing industry continues as an economic engine, generating approximately $800 million annually to the local economy. However, the business sector today presents a broad diversification in manufacturing, service, retail and tourism-related concerns throughout the city.
New Bedford's worldwide reputation as the greatest whaling port on the globe was a distinction wrested from Nantucket early in the 19th century. The city's vast fleet of whaling ships plied every ocean on the charts and brought the American flag into countless foreign ports for the first time. In 1841, Herman Melville shipped out aboard the whaleship, Acushnet. His experiences inspired him to write Moby-Dick, in which he describes New Bedford in great detail. In 1845, New Bedford was the fourth maritime tonnage district in the United States, exceeded only by New York, Boston, and New Orleans. The City of New Bedford was incorporated in 1847, with Abraham Howland serving as its first Mayor.
In the full glory of the days of whaling prosperity New Bedford sent out more whale ships than all other American ports combined. In 1857, when the population was about 22,000 the peak was reached, with 329 vessels engaged, representing an investment of $20 million and a yearly catch of $10 million. At this zenith, New Bedford was the richest city per capita in the world. However, from that year onward the industry steadily declined. The fleet had succeeded in hunting the leviathan to every corner of the globe, almost to the point of oblivion. In addition, the price of whale oil dropped steadily after petroleum was discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859.
Other factors included the destruction of numerous whalers by Confederate cruisers during the Civil War, use of substitutes for whalebone, and the wreck of many fine ships in the Arctic in the 1870's combined to accomplish the downfall of the once great industry. In 1861 the United States Government purchased a large number of old vessels of various kinds, loaded them with stone, and then sank them in the harbor channels of Charlestown and Savannah, in an effort to blockade those confederate ports. New Bedford's contribution to the 'Stone Fleet" was twenty-four idle whaleships. The last whaling voyage from this port was made by schooner John R. Manta in 1925.
New Bedford's connection to the United States Coast Guard dates to the
earliest history of that esteemed branch of the Armed Services. In 1876, the
Revenue Marine School of Instruction, precursor of the U.S. Coast Guard
Academy, was established here to educate cadets of that service. One member of
the first graduating class, Worth G. Ross of New Bedford, rose to become
Captain Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.
In 1903 the Old Dartmouth Historical Society was organized to perpetuate the lore and tradition of the old township. Its central attraction on Johnnycake Hill is the Bourne Whaling Museum, containing the largest ship model in the world, the bark Lagoda. A gift of Miss Emily Howland Bourne, the museum is named for her father, Jonathan Bourne, one of New Bedford's leading whaling merchants. The Whaling Museum is the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 150,000 objects in its collection.
The New Bedford High School was established in 1827, with John F. Emerson principal, but was abolished in 1829. For eight years Mr. Emerson then conducted a private High School. In 1837 the Public High School was revivified under a mandatory state law, with Mr. Emerson at the head.
The Friends Academy, founded by wealthy Quakers as a classical school, was established in New Bedford in 1810. The Swain Free School, established under the will of William W. Swain, was opened in his former residence in 1882 for general higher education, but later was transformed into an art school of national acclaim, known as the Swain School of Design. The New Bedford Textile School was organized in 1898, to instruct pupils in the manufacture of cotton cloth. It was the procurer of SMTI, which evolved into SMU, now the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. The New Bedford Vocational High School was established in this same era, maintained then jointly by the city and state.
Several churches were built in the first half of the 19th century in what is now the city center. Some are still standing, and new buildings have replaced others. The Young Men's Christian Association was organized here in 1867. Its ornate building was erected in 1891on the northwest corner of William and Sixth Streets, the first dedicated YMCA building in the nation. It was demolished for a parking lot by developers in 1975, despite public protest. The loss galvanized efforts toward serious historic preservation across the city. The Young Women's Christian Association was formed in 1911, and first occupied its building in 1924. The Salvation Army and the Volunteers of America have been established for many years in New Bedford.
To date, more than forty-five people have occupied the office of Mayor
during the last 150 years. Of these, Charles Sumner Ashley held the title for
the longest running Mayor. Between 1891 and 1936, though not continuously, he
served thirty-two years as New Bedford's chief executive officer, more than
one-third of the city's existence to that point.
In 1938 voters adopted one of the statutory model city charters provided by the Legislature known as Plan B. The most significant changes were the strengthening of the Mayor's powers, especially in regard to appointments, and the establishment of a single legislative body, comprising eleven Councilors.
"The earth has got to be very shifty to get out of the grasp of a people equally at home on land and water." Thus wrote Thomas B. Reed, distinguished Speaker of the National House in his greetings to New Bedford for the city's semi-centennial of 1897. This referred to the transition from whaling to cotton manufacturing.
Samuel Rodman was the promoter of New Bedford's first mill for the manufacture of cotton cloth. It was in February 1846, that a charter was granted to the New Bedford Steam Mill Company, and production began in November of that year, at the foot of Hillman Street. In 1849, the mill ran 7,500 spindles. Because of a lack of sufficient capital, operations were discontinued after five years. Meanwhile, the Wamsutta Mills was incorporated in April 1846, and began operations January 1, 1849. It rose to become the nation's preeminent producer of the finest domestic cotton fabrics.
After the turn of the century, eleven more mills were built, with
construction ceasing in 1910. New Bedford became one of the largest producers
of cotton yarns and textiles in the country, and led all centers in quality and
quantity output of fine goods. About 1920, at the height of prosperity, there
were twenty-eight cotton establishments, operating seventy mills and employing
41,380 workers. The population was then 121,217. However, lower production
costs fueled growing competition from southern textile mills. In 1928, textile
workers protesting a 10% wage cut called a general strike.
Though the strike lasted six months, it ushered in an era in which many textile mills moved from New England to the southern states attracted by cheaper labor and lower production costs. Still, textile manufacture continued here for decades. The Second World War, with its wartime demand for all sorts of goods, gave New Bedford textiles another period of prosperity. In addition, the "needle trade," in which skilled stitchers assembled all manner of fine clothing continued to grow. Though reduced in size, this industry continues today, as some of the finest names in men's suits are manufactured in New Bedford.
Besides cotton manufacture New Bedford had been characterized for many years by large-scale factory operations in numerous lines of products, including rubber, metal, and glass manufactories.
New Bedford is a cosmopolitan community. The diversity of nationalities represented here is a recognized accompaniment of the city's growth and prosperity, to every phase of which these voyagers from other lands and their posterity, as patriotic Americans, have contributed in no small measure.
Long prior to the American Revolution, slaves were owned in Old Dartmouth and New Bedford, some of them held by wealthy Quakers. Liberation was urged by leaders of the sect, and before 1780, when slavery was abolished in Massachusetts, no slaves were known to be held by New England Friends.
In the days of anti-slavery agitation, the people of New Bedford showed a
practical sympathy for fugitive slaves. The town was noted as one of the major
"stations" of the "Underground Railroad," which was not a railroad at all, but
merely an undercover system, to provide refuge for fugitives. The most famous
fugitive to settle in New Bedford was Frederick Douglass, noted abolitionist
orator and leader, who lived here from 1838 to 1841.
Another escaped slave, Lewis Temple, opened a blacksmithing shop, which primarily serviced the whaling fleet. In 1848, Temple invented the toggle-head harpoon, which revolutionized the whaling industry.
Although considerable migration from Ireland had taken place in the eighteenth century, the exact period of their first settling in New Bedford is not known. About 1818, they were here in sufficient numbers to warrant conducting a Catholic Mission, and Rev. Philip Lariscy, an Augustinian priest, came to New Bedford for that purpose. Under his incentive a church, St. Mary's, was erected in 1820 on Allen Street, near the corner of Orchard Street, with Father Lariscy as pastor. In 1849, the former Universalist Church at Pleasant and School Streets was purchased and occupied by St. Mary's parish. St. Lawrence Church, successor of these pioneer houses of worship, was completed and dedicated in 1870.
Visits by New Bedford's whaleships to the Portuguese Islands in the eastern Atlantic, the Azores, Madeira, and also Cape Verde resulted in the immigration of many islanders to America. This began in the 1830's or possibly even earlier. Settling in New Bedford, the newcomers naturally found employment in the whale fishery and many rose to command ships.
As migration continued over the years, several packet lines plied between the islands and this port. Many Portuguese settled in the southern part of the city, which was nicknamed "Little Fayal." Many years after the first exodus, groups from continental Portugal came here and located in the northern section. This was due to government changes in the homeland. For a number of years the Portuguese people were communicants of the first Catholic Church here, St. Mary's, but desirous of having a house of worship of their own, St. John the Baptist Church was erected 1875. It was the second Catholic parish in the city and the first Portuguese National Catholic Church in the nation. At present the Portuguese people constitute the largest proportion of the city's population, approximately 60%. Numerous fairs, festivals and "festas" enliven New Bedford's busy cultural calendar.
Arriving in New Bedford almost as early as the Portuguese, Cape Verdean immigrants formed the backbone of the whaling industry, on the wharves and on the high seas. Fiercely proud of both their American and Cape Verdean heritage, the Cape Verdean community sponsors one of the largest parades of the year around Independence Day, as well as many annual cultural events.
French speaking residents came from Canada, answering the growing demand for mill and textile workers during the Civil War. They first attended St. Lawrence Church, but finally were given their own place of worship when the Church of the Sacred Heart was dedicated in 1877 in the city's northwest quarter. It was the oldest French-Canadian national Catholic Church in the region. In 2001, despite public protest, the Diocese of Fall River demolished the historic structure for a parking lot as part of a parish merger.
Polish immigrants began arriving in New Bedford around 1895 drawn here by opportunities in the textile mills. Many were also carpenters, adding their skills to building the burgeoning city as it spread northward to its Freetown borders They were at first communicants of St. Kilian's and Holy Rosary Churches, but in 1903 their own house of worship, Our Lady of Perpetual Help was established.
German, Russian and Polish Jews are known to have made New Bedford home as early as the 1850's. Early migration of the Jewish people from Russia to this city began about 1877. Before a place of worship was erected, religious services were held in private homes. In the 1890's the site of the first Ahavath Achim Synagogue on Howland Street was purchased and the synagogue was completed and dedicated in 1899. Today, there are two Jewish Congregations, the Ahavath Achim Synagogue and Tefereth Israel Synagogue.
Other nationalities represented in New Bedford include, the Lebanese and Greek, each having one church as well as very active cultural calendars. People of Norwegian heritage have called New Bedford home for more than a century. As with the Portuguese, the industriousness and maritime skills of the Norwegians have earned them leadership roles in the port's fishing industry. Spanish-speaking people from many lands, as well as Czechoslovakians, Albanians, English, Italians and Germans have also made New Bedford home over the years. Recently, Guatemalan and Mayan people have settled in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, many being employed in maritime and fish-processing operations.
Regular traffic between the villages of New Bedford and Fairhaven was established by the construction of a toll bridge, via Fish and Popes Islands, in 1796. There was also for many years a ferry, which traversed the harbor daily. The current iron turnstile bridge was completed in 1902.
Early sailing packets and later a steamboat line furnished connection with Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. At various periods there was direct steamboat service to New York.
Land transportation was by stagecoaches, which ran to Boston and to Newport for connections by boat to New York, and points west. The Boston mail stage was routed through Fairhaven. The first trains out of New Bedford began in 1840, then running to Taunton Junction and on to Boston. In 1875, a branch of the railroad running direct to Fall River from New Bedford was established. A trolley system to Fall River was started in 1894 and was replaced by buses in 1933.
In 1872, the New Bedford and Fairhaven Street Railway Company was incorporated. In 1887 it consolidated with the newer Acushnet Street Railway Company under the name of Union Street Railway Company. Trolley cars displaced horse cars in 1890, and buses were introduced in 1925. The trolley system was entirely discontinued in May 1947, replaced by bus service.
The Municipal Airport, with two runways each 5000 feet long, is located on 400 acres in the northwestern part of the city in an area bounded by Shawmut Avenue, Plainville Road and Mount Pleasant Street. Before the expansion of the original field was completed in 1943, seventy-seven buildings were removed or demolished, and a new section of Plainville Road was built.
Planning for a Municipal Airport began about 1935, at the urging of the New
Bedford Aero Club. Work on the field had begun as a Works Progress
Administration Project in 1940. The city gave the government full use during
World War II, and in 1942 an Army bombing squadron was stationed there. A
hangar, barracks, service buildings and the runways were installed by the War
Department. Subsequently the Navy took over. The airport is now under charge of
a Municipal Airport Commission, which is appointed by the Mayor. The airport
provides precision and non-precision instrument approach, with daily service to
the islands via Cape Air. Flight schools also operate from the airport.
The city water system commenced in 1869, six years after it was established by an Act of the General Court of the Commonwealth on April 18, 1863. The city initiated the massive project in 1861 when it hired Capt. Charles H. Biglow, Chief Engineer in charge of the construction of Fort Taber, to perform initial surveying. Since then, many extensions and improvements have been made, providing the city with a matchless resource, the envy of many communities whose growth is limited by water supply. Indeed, New Bedford's true wealth in the 21st century and its key to future growth, is its abundance of clean water, the quality and quantity of which is unsurpassed in all of southern New England.
New Bedford's Fire Department began its existence in 1772, when Joseph Rotch bought a hand-drawn fire engine built in London, which was named Independence No. 1. Over a long period the equipment consisted of hand engines, and there was great rivalry between the companies as to which should be first to get water on a blaze. The "best" fire brigades in town delighted "to run with the masheen." After a huge waterfront fire in August 1859, the most extensive in the city's history covering several blocks, the first steam fire engine was purchased. In 1908 motorization of the department was begun, and was completed in 1917.
New Bedford's first newspaper was The Medley, or New Bedford Marine Journal, appearing in November 1792. Several other papers were also published in the city. The Weekly Mercury, later a morning daily, started in August 1807 and closed in 1942. Edmund Anthony established the Evening Standard in February 1850, E. Anthony & Sons, Inc., later being proprietors. In 1902 the New Bedford Standard Times was published, first as a Sunday paper and later as an afternoon daily. Basil Brewer became publisher of the Standard in 1931, and acquiring a major interest in E. Anthony & Sons, Inc., absorbed the Times in 1932. For a period the corporation also published the Mercury. The paper is now issued as the Standard-Times, a morning daily, and is a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc., Campbell Hall, NY.
The Superior Court House at County and Court Streets was built in 1830-31. It was from this courthouse that the infamous Lizzie Borden was tried for the double-murder of her parents in nearby Fall River in 1892.
The New Bedford Gas Company began the distribution of piped gas for lighting in February 1853. Introduction of electric light in the city took place in 1886, only seven years after Edison invented it.
St. Luke's Hospital was incorporated in 1884. It was first operated in a wooden structure on Fourth (now Purchase) Street, until established at Page and Allen Streets in the city's west end.
The Free Public Library was created by a city ordinance in 1852. It had a
backlog of the 5,000 volumes of the New Bedford Social Library, a private
lending collection. The present Municipal Building, greatly changed, housed the
Public Library from 1856 until 1910. A fire in the historic City Hall brought
about its reconstruction for use as the Library. Thus, were the functions of
the two buildings switched; the old library at 133 William Street relocated
across the street to 613 Pleasant Street, and City Hall relocated to the
much-expanded Municipal Building at 133 William Street.
Robert C. Ingraham was the city's first librarian, serving from the start until his death, a period of nearly fifty years. There are now more than 500,000 volumes in the five city libraries, plus those available through the Southeastern Massachusetts Library System. The library also oversees several important collections within its archives, including the third largest collection of whaling logs in the world and one of the oldest public genealogical resource departments in the nation.
New Bedford's first post office began mail service in 1794, at the corner of Purchase and Union Streets. A telegraph line was established in 1847, one year after Samuel Morsedemonstrated his invention at the Capitol in Washington, DC. The telephone was introduced in New Bedford in 1880, only four years after Bell demonstrated his invention.
The Commons, or Common Park (now called Clasky-Common Park) was the city's first public green. During the 1890's, the city acquired the lands that now constitute much of today's park system and improved and beautified them. Brooklawn Park was the former estate of Daniel Ricketson, New Bedford's first published historian. At Brooklawn, Rickstson entertained many leading literary lights of the age, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
Henry H. Crapo, long a public official of New Bedford, published the first city directory in 1836. Later, Crapo traveled west and subsequently rose to become Governor of Michigan.
Over the years, New Bedford has been battered by hurricanes, which inflicted
great damage to its shipping and shoreline industries. In response, a 3.5-mile
long stone hurricane barrier was constructed between 1962 and 1966. The barrier
crosses the New Bedford harbor and features massive storm gates at its 150-foot
channel. Built at a cost of $18.1million dollars, it is the largest stone
structure on the East Coast of the United States. Operated by the U.S. Army
Corps. Of Engineers, the barrier protects the inner harbor and part of the
city's southern peninsula from storm surge, making New Bedford the safest haven
on the eastern seaboard.
In the early 1970's, Interstate Highway I-195 transected the city, connecting it with Cape Cod and Providence, Rhode Island. Route 140 provides highway access to Boston. The Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) provides local bus service, and major bus companies link the city with Cape Cod, Boston, and all points west and north. Cape Air provides daily air service to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Passenger ferry service from the city operates to Martha's Vineyard via the New England Fast Ferry Service's high-speed and traditional ferries from State Pier. A convenient park & ride faculty is connected to the ferry terminal by 3-minute shuttle bus ride. Cuttyhunk Boat Lines provides service throughout the year to Cuttyhunk Island, departing daily in season from Fisherman's Wharf, adjacent to the city's Waterfront Visitor Center.
A milestone event in city history occurred in November 1996 when Congress designated 34 acres of the city's downtown historic district as the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. Incorporating approximately 13 city blocks adjacent to the waterfront, this urban national park was established "to help preserve, protect and interpret certain districts, structures, and artifacts located in New Bedford, MA, that are associated with the history of whaling, and related social, economic, and environmental themes for the benefit and inspiration of this and future generations." National Park status was widely acknowledged as a turning point for the city and validation from the highest levels of government that New Bedford's remarkable maritime and social history has played a significant part in the development and growth of America.
As in Melville's day, the seafaring traditions of New Bedford's mariner forefathers hold fast. The city continues to draw a substantial part of its living from the sea. Today, the port is home to more than 500 commercial fishing vessels of various drafts and rigs. New Bedford continues to rank as the nation's #1commercial fishing port in value of landed catch. The working waterfront is home to several national seafood-processing plants, which produce a wide array of products shipped around the world. Vessels no longer off-load their hauls on the piers, but tie up along the processing plants at the water's edge, speedily emptying their catches from refrigerated holds directed into refrigerated receiving bays. Seafood prices are primarily set by an on-line display auction. New Bedford also has long held title as the nation's leading supplier of sea scallops, making it America's top-dollar value port.
The New Bedford Business Park, located in the far north end of the city, employs over 2500 people and accounts for approximately $650 million in sales revenue. Extensive infrastructure improvements are underway throughout the complex. Recently, 8 real estate purchases and 5 expansions in the park are estimated to account for an additional 1500 jobs and $1 billion in total sales revenue. Preeminent international companies call New Bedford home, including Titleist and Foot-Joy Worldwide, Polaroid, Johnson & Johnson and American Flexible Conduit.
Some major construction projects in the city recently completed include: the $10 million expansion of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Buttonwood Park Zoo expansion, Roosevelt Middle School, Compass Bank Headquarters, Star Store Campus of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Airport Terminal renovation, Main Library restoration, Fire Museum expansion, freight ferry terminal construction, Fort Taber Park construction, Corson Building restoration, the Zeiterion Theatre parking garage and restoration of three city lighthouses.
Other public and private initiatives underway in the city include:
reestablishment of commuter rail service to Boston, New Bedford Marine Commerce
Terminal, expansion of the regional airport, redesign of the Route 18 downtown
Tourism is also a fast-growing segment of the local economy. New Bedford's rich history, its national park status and its authentic working waterfront draws increasing numbers of tourists annually. In addition, a continued increase in the number of galleries, museums, and cultural events is earning New Bedford recognition as "a city of art, " attracting professional artists, art patrons and visitors of all interests drawn to the city's growing artistic vibrancy.