National Park Service

State of the Park Reports

State of the Park Report for Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Fireworks on Derby Wharf
Fireworks on Derby Wharf

The purpose of this State of the Park report for Salem Maritime National Historic Site is to assess the overall condition of the park's priority resources and values, to communicate complex park condition information to visitors and the American public in a clear and simple way, and to inform visitors and other stakeholders about stewardship actions being taken by park staff to maintain or improve the condition of priority park resources for future generations. The State of the Park report uses a standardized approach to focus attention on the priority resources and values of the park based on the park's purpose and significance, as described in the park's Foundation Document or General Management Plan. The report:

  • Provides to visitors and the American public a snapshot of the status and trend in the condition of a park's priority resources and values.
  • Summarizes and communicates complex scientific, scholarly, and park operations factual information and expert opinion using non-technical language and a visual format.
  • Highlights park stewardship activities and accomplishments to maintain or improve the state of the park.
  • Identifies key issues and challenges facing the park to inform park management planning.

The process of identifying priority park resources by park staff and partners, tracking their condition, organizing and synthesizing data and information, and communicating the results will be closely coordinated with the park planning process, including natural and cultural resource condition assessments and Resource Stewardship Strategy development. The term "priority resources" is used to identify the fundamental and other important resources and values for the park, based on a park's purpose and significance within the National Park System, as documented in the park's foundation document and other planning documents. This report summarizes and communicates the overall condition of priority park resources and values based on the available scientific and scholarly information and expert opinion, irrespective of the ability of the park superintendent or the National Park Service to influence it.

The purpose of Salem Maritime National Historic Site is to preserve and interpret the history and resources along the waterfront of Salem, Massachusetts, that illustrate the nation's maritime history and its industrial evolution from the colonial period to the 20th century.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site is significant because:

  • It was designated by the Secretary of Interiors in 1938 as the first National Historic Site in the United States.
  • The collection of historic buildings, wharves, lighthouse, and replica tall ship tell the saga of Salem's international tall ship trade and its role in advancing America's economic independence after the Revolutionary War.
  • It communicates the relationship of the land to the waterfront, maritime history, Salem Sound, and beyond.
  • Represents the intersection of a mercantile enterprise, governmental development, and maritime trade in the midst of a growing cosmopolitan community.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne used his work experiences at the Custom House in the introduction to his famous novel The Scarlet Letter.
Map of Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Map of Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Location of Salem Maritime National Historic Site in Massachusetts
Location of Salem Maritime National Historic Site in Salem, Massachusetts


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