Nantucket, Massachusetts

Town & County of Nantucket, Massachusetts
—  Town  —
Town & County of Nantucket, Massachusetts
Nantucket

Location in Nantucket County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 41°17′00″N 70°06′00″W / 41.2833333°N °W / 41.2833333; -70.1
Country United States
State Massachusetts
Settled 1641
Incorporated 1671
Government
 - Type Open town meeting
Area
 - Total  dunams (272.6 km2 / 105.3 sq mi)
 - Land
 - Water
Elevation
Population (2007)
 - Total 10,531
 Density
 - Urban density
 - Rural density
 - Metro density
 -  Density
 -  Density
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02554
Area code(s) 508 / 774 Exchanges: 228,325,825
FIPS code 25-43790
GNIS feature ID 0619376
Website www.nantucket-ma.gov

Nantucket is an island 30 miles (48.3 km) south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in the United States. Together with the small islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget, it constitutes the town of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and the coterminous Nantucket County, which are consolidated. Part of the town is designated the Nantucket CDP, or census designated place. The region of Surfside on Nantucket is the southernmost settlement in Massachusetts.

Nantucket is a tourist destination and summer colony. The population of the island soars from approximately 10,000 to 50,000[1] during the summer months, due to tourists and summer residents. According to Forbes Magazine, in 2006, Nantucket had the highest median property value of any Massachusetts zip code.[2]

The Nantucket Historic District, comprising all of Nantucket Island, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 13, 1966. In doing so the National Park Service paid particular note to the settlements of Nantucket and Siasconset. The island features one of the highest concentrations of pre-Civil War structures in the United States.

Origin of the name

Also nicknamed "The Grey Lady" due to the almost regular fog, Nantucket takes its name from a word in an Eastern Algonquian language of southern New England, originally spelled variously as natocke, nantaticut, nantican, and nautican. The meaning of the term is uncertain, although it may have meant "in the midst of waters," or "far away island."[3]

Other sources state the Native American word "Natockete," meaning "faraway land," to be Nantucket's namesake. The Wampanoag Native Americans referred to the island as "Canopache," or "place of peace."

History

Beginnings

The island's beginnings in western history can possibly be traced to its conjectured sighting by Norsemen in the 11th century. In 1602 Captain Bartholomew Gosnold of Suffolk from Falmouth, Cornwall, England sailed his bark Concord past the bluffs of Siasconset.

The island's original inhabitants, the Wampanoag Indians, lived undisturbed until 1641 when the island was deeded by the English (the authorities in control of all land from the coast of Maine to New York) to Thomas Mayhew and his son, merchants of Watertown and Martha's Vineyard. Nantucket was part of Dukes County, New York until 1691, when it was transferred to the newly formed Province of Massachusetts Bay and split off to form Nantucket County. The entire area of the New York county had been purchased by Thomas Mayhew Sr. of Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1641, buying out competing land claims. The earliest English settlement in the area began on neighboring island Martha's Vineyard, named after Bartholomew's daughter Martha who died on board, en route.

As Europeans began to settle Cape Cod, the island became a place of refuge for regional Indians, as Nantucket was not yet settled by Europeans. The growing population of Native Americans welcomed seasonal groups of Indians who traveled to the island to fish and later harvest whales that washed up on shore.