Peabody, Massachusetts is a city located in Essex County with a long history. The first settlements in the area were in 1626 as a part of Salem known as Brooksby Village. Farmers were the first people to move into the region, however because it was filled with streams, Brooksby was an obvious location for industries that required water power. By 1668, tanning established itself as the
primary industry of the area. Brooksby continued to grow, and eventually
separated from Salem in 1752 to form the town of Danvers.
Shortly after the American Revolution, the southern tip of Danvers exploded in population. It reached a size where is became obvious that it could support it's own government, separated, and was
incorporated into its own township in 1855. This newly established town was known simply as the Town of South Danvers. Eventually it grew to be larger than it's parent, and
desperately wanted an identity separate from the place where it was spawned from. The Town of South Danvers chose to name itself after its most famous son, George Peabody, a famous financier and philanthropist born in that part of Danvers. So in 1868, the Town of South Danvers became Peabody.
Peabody continued to grow rapidly due to its successful industry, and reached a point where the New England town government became too cumbersome. In 1916, the residents voted to become a city, becoming the thirty-seventh in Massachusetts. The city has continued to grow, approaching 50,000 residents in 2000.
The initial growth of Peabody was attributed to one single industry - leather. Peabody has always been known as the "Leather City" or the "Tanner City". With all the brooks and ponds in the area, manufacturing leather developed into a tremendously lucrative
activity. By the time the industry took off in the 1800's, Peabody had established itself as the world's largest provider of leather.
Leather no longer plays a major role in the city's current economy. The local High School team is still called the Tanners, but there is little that remains of the industry. Many of the buildings that were once housed the tanning vats are still there, but have been converted to warehouses, offices, or apartments. There are more Tanning Salons than tanneries now. It's interesting to see such a key part of the city's past vanish, but the city thrive nonetheless.
The current population of Peabody is just under 50,000 people, and has access to I-95
, US Route 1
, and MA Route 128
. This makes it a
convenient place for commuters going into Boston
, or to the technology companies up along route 128. From a tourist's point of view, Peabody is not an exciting place to visit. There is an
International Festival each October, and the public library often has some of the original
prints on display. Being next to Salem, makes it a convenient place to stay/visit during all the Halloween
madness the engulfs the city.
Much of the industry has left the city, there is still a Eastman Kodak plant near downtown. The new center of the city's industry,
"Centennial Park", is located near its center. However, for the most part Peabody has established itself as a suburban
community, complete with its own public golf course (when the course opened the
mayor pointed out that the course even had par 5 holes! Wow!). There's a good deal of commerce with one of the state's largest shopping malls, as well as a number of small businesses ranging from furniture sales to technology.
What to do in Peabody
Personally, (having lived there most of my life) I wouldn't visit Peabody unless there was another reason (family nearby, job
opportunity in the area). However, if you're either stopping in Peabody on the way to someplace more exciting, or just trying to find a place a little out of the way from Boston here is some information that could be useful.
There is some public transportation provided by the MBTA in and around Peabody. There is a commuter rail depot in Salem, as well as a Logan express terminal that provides bus service to and from the air port. There are also MBTA busses that run between the North Shore mall and Lynn.
One of the nice things about the city is it's ethnic diversity. This is reflected in the wide range of food and activities.
O'Fado Restaurant - The first time I saw this restaurant I assumed it was Irish. In fact it's a
Portuguese restaurant. If you've never tried Portuguese food, it's worth expanding your horizons.
Aroma India- For the longest time I figured that the restaurant was closed. It's not much to look at from the outside, but the food inside is
Jumbalaya's- just on the edge of the Danvers/Peabody border, this is a restaurant that attempted to be a chain, but apparently failed. It's got a mixture of
Cajun and Mexican food. Jumbalaya's is the home of the best Quesadillas I've had on the North Shore (which isn't exactly a huge sample size).
Sea Witch - The best fried seafood in the area. Unlike the above statement about Quesadillas, this is a big thing. The fish is always fresh, and always cooked right. New England seafood at its finest.
If the local food does not appeal to you, there is an Outback Steak House on Route 114, as well a number of franchises scattered along Route 1 (Chili's, T.G.I. Fridays).
Although over the border in Middleton, Richardson's Dairy has some of the best ice cream in the area. Not only do they make their own ice cream, they make their own milk. There's a
miniature golf course next to it which makes it a nice place for a family outing.
16.88 Square Miles
Northeastern Massachusetts, part of the North Shore
- about 17 miles north of Boston.