Yesterday the Friendship of Salem, a reproduction 1797 three-masted East Indiaman, returned after an absence of many months. It was a beautiful, breezy day, so I went down to Derby Wharf to wait for it, and promptly fell asleep (right in the midst a crowd of people, pretty embarrassing). When I woke up, the ship was almost upon the wharf (a startling sight to wake up to, actually), so I missed its approach. It rounded the wharf and glided to its berth, negotiating a graceful turnaround along the way so it could back in–its accompanying little pilot boats doing much of the work. And then The Friendship was home.
For a geographical overview and some historical context, here are two bird’s-eye views of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site by National Park Service illustrator Fred Freeman: where once there were many busy wharves, now there is only the long Derby and the much shorter Hatch’s and Central wharves. Imagine not one Friendship, but many.
More harbor views, both romantic and realistic: the scene from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Custom House office, from an interesting article entitled “The Salem of Hawthorne” by Julian Hawthorne in The Century Magazine (1884) , an illustration from an article on post-fire Salem in The New England Magazine (1914), and an undated advertisement for coal, which I found among other papers in the third-floor eaves of my house last week. Mr. Phillips lived in the house in the second half of the nineteenth century, a time when Salem’s wharves were housing less glorious goods than those brought in by The Friendship many years before.