If you visited Salem's waterfront in the late 1700s or early 1800s you would have been impressed not only by the ships and their exotic cargo, but also by the variety of artisans and craftsmen who worked on the wharf. Sail makers, riggers, rope makers, and blacksmiths were only some of the skilled workers vital to Salem's fleets.
This modern painting depicts the area along Derby Street in the early 1800s when Salem's trade was at its peak. Featured in the foreground is Derby Wharf (where you are now standing) with its three-story warehouses. The other historic wharves in the painting no longer exist. Along the shore on the left side of the painting is a shipyard, where a hull is being constructed. Just above the shipyard is the Turner-Ingersoll mansion, immortalized by Nathaniel Hawthorne in his novel The House of Seven Gables.
Isaac Cushing, ship joiner, has removed his Business to the Chamber of Store no. 15, Derby Wharf, where orders in his line will be gratefully received, and faithfully executed. Patent Binnacles & Sky Lights of all sizes will be constantly kept for sale at the above place. - Advertisement in the Essex Register, March 13, 1811
How it Looked Then
1 The ship John docked after a voyage to the East Indies. The keel rests on the mud exposed at low tide.
2 Derby Wharf, begun in 1762.
3 Unloading sugar from Isle de France (Mauritus).
4 Unloading cotton from India.
5 Dunnage, packing material used to prevent cargo from shifting.
6 Weighing unloaded cargo on the U.S. Customs scales.
7 Weighing unloaded cargo on merchant's tripod scales.
8 Coppering the hull of a schooner to protect it from wood-boring teredo worms.
9 Counting house of ship owner Elias Hasket Derby, Jr. whose one-horse chaise is parked in front.
10 Schooner delivering lumber.
11 Brig under construction in the shipyard.
12 The brig Badger.
13 The ship Monk.
14 Ship captain Samuel Ingersoll's home, later known as the House of Seven Gables.
15 Fishing boat heading out of the harbor.
16 Orne's Wharf.
17 Former privateer Rhodes.
18 Crowninshield Wharf, or India Wharf, built in 1802. Three merchant ships are docked along each side.
19 Stagecoach awaiting a shore party.
20 A visiting naval frigate, with sailors rowing ashore.
21 Coney Island, near the harbor entrance.
22 Baker's Island Light.
23 Becket's shipyard, birthplace of many of Salem's famous vessels.
A Hides B Hemp C Tea D Tallow E Nutmeg F Coffee G Molasses H Cotton I Fireworks J Pepper K Wine L Sugar M Chinaware