The Islands (Massachusetts)

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The Massachusetts coastline, showing the Islands at the southern end. Cape Cod Bay map.png
The Massachusetts coastline, showing the Islands at the southern end.

The Islands is the collective name for the set of large islands south of Cape Cod in the southeast corner of the U.S. state of Massachusetts: Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, the Elizabeth Islands, and a small number of minor islands. The Islands are the location of numerous beach resorts, celebrity second homes, and preserved buildings dating back to the whaling era.

Island Any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water

An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, skerries, cays or keys. An island in a river or a lake island may be called an eyot or ait, and a small island off the coast may be called a holm. A grouping of geographically or geologically related islands is called an archipelago, such as the Philippines.

Cape Cod Cape in the northeastern United States

Cape Cod is a geographic cape extending into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeastern corner of mainland Massachusetts, in the northeastern United States. Its historic, maritime character and ample beaches attract heavy tourism during the summer months.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Contents

Geography

Nantucket Island (together with the two smaller islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget) constitutes the town of Nantucket; the Elizabeth Islands constitute the town of Gosnold; and Martha's Vineyard contains the towns of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury (including Vineyard Haven), West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah. They are separated from Cape Cod by Nantucket Sound and Vineyard Sound, and from the South Coast by Buzzards Bay.

New England town Basic unit of local government in each of the six New England federated states of the United States

The New England town, generally referred to simply as a town in New England, is the basic unit of local government and local division of state authority in each of the six New England states and without a direct counterpart in most other U.S. states. New England towns overlay the entire area of a state, similar to civil townships in other states where they exist, but they are fully functioning municipal corporations, possessing powers similar to cities in other states. New Jersey's system of equally powerful townships, boroughs, towns, and cities is the system which is most similar to that of New England. New England towns are often governed by a town meeting legislative body. The great majority of municipal corporations in New England are based on the town model; statutory forms based on the concept of a compact populated place are uncommon, though they are prevalent elsewhere in the U.S. County government in New England states is typically weak at best, and in some states nonexistent. Connecticut, for example, has no county governments, nor does Rhode Island. Both of those states retain counties only as geographic subdivisions with no governmental authority, while Massachusetts has abolished eight of fourteen county governments so far. With few exceptions, counties serve mostly as dividing lines for the states' judicial systems.

Gosnold, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Gosnold is a town that encompasses the Elizabeth Islands in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. At the 2010 census, the town population was 75, making it the least populous town in Massachusetts. Most of the residents live in the village of Cuttyhunk, while most of the land in the town is owned by the Forbes family.

Edgartown, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Edgartown is a town located on Martha's Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 4,067 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Dukes County.

History

The disputed territory of the Islands came under absolute British control following the English acquisition of the former Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. The Islands were established as Dukes County, New York in 1683, and then in 1691 they were transferred from New York to Massachusetts and then separated into two counties: Nantucket County (consisting of Nantucket alone) and Dukes County, containing all the other islands.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Including three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

Colony territory under the political control of an overseas state, generally with its own subordinate colonial government

In history, a colony is a territory under the immediate complete political control and occupied by settlers of a state, distinct from the home territory of the sovereign. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception.

Originally the home of indigenous Wampanoag, the area was otherwise inhabited by only a few landlords and seafaring families until a brief golden era when local population and wealth grew immensely as a result of the Islands being the home of many commercial whalers and their crews, due to demand for blubber for use in oil lamps. The whale oil market became obsolete following the development of modern petroleum extraction, with dire consequences for local sailors and merchants, until the area was discovered as a summer colony, first by wealthy visitors from mainland New England and later from around the country and beyond. Much of the isolated rural culture of the Islands has been preserved from new construction, partly because they can be easily accessed only by ferry or aircraft due to their separation from the rest of the state by Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound.

Seamanship is the art of operating a ship or boat.

Whaling hunting of whales

Whaling is the hunting of whales for their usable products such as meat and blubber, which can be turned into a type of oil which became increasingly important in the Industrial Revolution. It was practiced as an organized industry as early as 875 AD. By the 16th century, it had risen to be the principle industry in the coastal regions of Spain and France. The industry spread throughout the world, and became increasingly profitable in terms of trade and resources. Some regions of the world's oceans, along the animals' migration routes, had a particularly dense whale population, and became the targets for large concentrations of whaling ships, and the industry continued to grow well into the 20th century. The depletion of some whale species to near extinction led to the banning of whaling in many countries by 1969, and to a worldwide cessation of whaling as an industry in the late 1980's. The earliest forms of whaling date to at least circa 3000 BC. Coastal communities around the world have long histories of subsistence use of cetaceans, by dolphin drive hunting and by harvesting drift whales. Industrial whaling emerged with organized fleets of whaleships in the 17th century; competitive national whaling industries in the 18th and 19th centuries; and the introduction of factory ships along with the concept of whale harvesting in the first half of the 20th century. By the late 1930s more than 50,000 whales were killed annually. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling because of the extreme depletion of most of the whale stocks.

Blubber thick layer of vascularized adipose tissue found under the skin of all cetaceans, pinnipeds and sirenians

Blubber is a thick layer of vascularized adipose tissue under the skin of all cetaceans, pinnipeds and sirenians.

Although the arrival of large numbers of people as well as new homes, retailers, and restaurants has led to rising costs for many long-time residents, the unique local lifestyle is still visible in part by an occasionally emerging secession movement of variable strength.

Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession. It could involve a violent or peaceful process but these do not change the nature of the outcome, which is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.

Attractions

Attractions on the Islands include Flying Horses Carousel, Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, Polly Hill Arboretum, and Troubled Shores supplemented by ample opportunities for cycling, equestrianism, fishing, sailing, and some of the finest whale watching in the world.

Flying Horses Carousel

The Flying Horses Carousel is the oldest operating platform carousel in America. Located in the historic resort community of Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, on Martha's Vineyard, the carousel was apparently first located in New York City before being moved to the island in the 1880s.

Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife refuge on Chappaquiddick Island owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations. The refuge consists of 516 acres (2.09 km2) and includes the 1893 Cape Poge Lighthouse.

Polly Hill Arboretum American nonprofit organization

The Polly Hill Arboretum includes 8 ha under cultivation, with an additional 16 ha of native woodland, located on Martha's Vineyard at 809 State Road, West Tisbury, Massachusetts, United States. It has been developed since 1958 by the horticulturist Polly Hill, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

People associated with the Islands

The Islands have been a part of the lives of many noted personalities, including Mary Morrill, Mayhew Folger, Lucretia Mott, Rowland Hussey Macy, Walter Cronkite, William Styron, William Labov, Ted Kennedy, David McCullough, and Carly Simon.

Related Research Articles

Marthas Vineyard island in the United States of America

Martha's Vineyard is an island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts that is known for being an affluent summer colony. Martha's Vineyard includes the smaller Chappaquiddick Island, which is usually connected to the Vineyard, though storms and hurricanes have separated them, as in 2007. It is the 58th largest island in the United States, with a land area of 100 square miles (260 km2), and the third-largest on the East Coast of the United States, after Long Island and Mount Desert Island. Martha's Vineyard constitutes the bulk of Dukes County, Massachusetts, which also includes the Elizabeth Islands and the island of Nomans Land.

Nantucket Town and county in Massachusetts, United States

Nantucket is an island about 30 miles (50 km) by ferry south from Cape Cod, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Together with the small islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget, it constitutes the Town of Nantucket, and the conterminous Nantucket County. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,172. 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.

Dukes County, Massachusetts county in Massachusetts

Dukes County is a county located in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the population was 16,535, making it the second-least populous county in Massachusetts. Its county seat is Edgartown.

Woods Hole, Massachusetts Census-designated place in Massachusetts, United States

Woods Hole is a census-designated place in the town of Falmouth in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States. It lies at the extreme southwest corner of Cape Cod, near Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands. The population was 781 at the 2010 census.

Aquinnah, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Aquinnah is a town located on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Until 1997, the town was called Gay Head. The population was 311 at the 2010 U.S. census. It is known for its beautiful clay cliffs and quiet natural serenity.

Chilmark, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Chilmark is a town located on Martha's Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 866 at the 2010 census. The fishing village of Menemsha is located on the western side of the town along its border with the town of Aquinnah. Chilmark had the highest median home sale price of any town or city in Massachusetts in 2013.

Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Oak Bluffs is a town located on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 4,527 at the 2010 United States Census. It is one of the island's principal points of arrival for summer tourists, and is noted for its "gingerbread cottages" and other well-preserved mid- to late-nineteenth-century buildings.

Tisbury, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Tisbury is a town located on Martha's Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 3,949 at the 2010 census.

West Tisbury, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

West Tisbury is a town located on Martha's Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 2,740 at the 2010 census. Along with Chilmark and Aquinnah, West Tisbury forms "Up-Island" Martha's Vineyard.

Falmouth, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Falmouth is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States; Barnstable County is coextensive with Cape Cod. The population was 31,532 at the 2010 census, making Falmouth the second-largest municipality on Cape Cod after Barnstable. The terminal for the Steamship Authority ferries to Martha's Vineyard is located in the village of Woods Hole in Falmouth. Woods Hole also contains several scientific organizations such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), the Woods Hole Research Center, NOAA's Woods Hole Science Aquarium, and the scientific institutions' various museums.

Hyannis, Massachusetts Village in Massachusetts, United States

Hyannis is the largest of the seven villages in the town of Barnstable, Massachusetts, in the United States. It is the commercial and transportation hub of Cape Cod and was designated an urban area as of the 1990 census. Because of this, many refer to Hyannis as the "Capital of the Cape". It contains a majority of the Barnstable Town offices and two important shopping districts: the historic downtown Main Street and the Route 132 Commercial District, including Cape Cod Mall and Independence Park, headquarters of Cape Cod Potato Chips. Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis is the largest on Cape Cod.

Elizabeth Islands island group in Massachusetts, USA

The Elizabeth Islands are a chain of small islands extending southwest from the southern coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the United States. They are located at the outer edge of Buzzards Bay, north of Martha's Vineyard from which they are separated by Vineyard Sound, and constitute the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts in Dukes County.

Vineyard Sound The stretch of the Atlantic Ocean which separates the Elizabeth Islands and the southwestern part of Cape Cod from the island of Marthas Vineyard

Vineyard Sound is the stretch of the Atlantic Ocean which separates the Elizabeth Islands and the southwestern part of Cape Cod from the island of Martha's Vineyard, located offshore from the state of Massachusetts in the United States. To the west, it joins Rhode Island Sound, and on its eastern end it connects to Nantucket Sound.

Nantucket Sound A roughly triangular area of the Atlantic Ocean offshore from the U.S. state of Massachusetts

Nantucket Sound is a roughly triangular area of the Atlantic Ocean offshore from the U.S. state of Massachusetts. It is 30 miles (48 km) long and 25 miles (40 km) wide, and is enclosed by Cape Cod on the north, Nantucket on the south, and Martha's Vineyard on the west. Between Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard it is connected to the Vineyard Sound. Ports on Nantucket Sound include Nantucket and Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Marthas Vineyard Airport airport

Martha's Vineyard Airport is a public airport located in the middle of the island of Martha's Vineyard, three miles (5 km) south of the central business district of Vineyard Haven, in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. This airport is owned by Dukes County and lies on the border between the towns of West Tisbury and Edgartown. It is often used for general aviation but is also served by four commercial airlines.

Outer Lands archipelagic region off the southern coast of New England

The Outer Lands is the prominent terminal moraine archipelagic region off the southern coast of New England in the United States. This eight-county region of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York, comprises the peninsula of Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard, the Elizabeth Islands, Nantucket, Block Island, and Long Island, as well as surrounding islands and islets.

Woods Hole station


The Woods Hole Railroad Station was a station on the Old Colony Railroad located in the village of Woods Hole in the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts. It served as the terminus for the railroad's branch line to Woods Hole and offered ferry connections to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Rail service to Woods Hole ended in 1963, and the station building was demolished in 1970.

Dylan Fernandes is a State Representative currently serving in the Massachusetts House representing Martha's Vineyard, Falmouth and Nantucket. He has been serving since 2017 and is a member of the Democratic Party.