Introducing New Bedford
During its heyday as a whaling port (1765–1860), New Bedford commanded as many as 400 whaling ships. This vast fleet brought home hundreds of thousands of barrels of whale oil for lighting America’s lamps. Novelist Herman Melville worked on one of these ships for four years, and thus set his celebrated novel, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, in New Bedford.
When petroleum and electricity supplanted whale oil, New Bedford turned to fishing, scalloping and textile production for its wealth. In recent years the New Bedford economy has floundered and parts of the city are pretty run-down. But the city center has its charms: cobblestone streets and gas lanterns recall the romance of the 19th century, while the National Historical Park designation commemorates the whaling heritage.