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New Bedford, Fifty Years Ago

Date: 1858
Sheet: 495 x 655 mm
Overall: 495 x 655 mm, 0.05 kg
Image: 400 x 600 mm
Medium: Colour lithograph on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Lithograph
Object No: 00028904
Place Manufactured:New Bedford

User Terms

    This colour lithograph after a painting by William Allen Wall, depicts a street in New Bedford, Massachusetts as it appeared in the early 19th century. It was published by Endicott & Co in 1858.
    SignificanceThis lithograph is important in depicting the town of New Bedford prior to the decline of the whaling industry.
    HistoryThis lithograph shows a busy street intersection highlighting the diverse activities and people in everyday life. William Wall was noted for realistic representations in his paintings. The local popularity of the print depended in large part on the exactness with which Wall drew the scene and on the obvious individuality of the people portrayed. This lithograph shows the daily activities behind the port.

    The north-east Coastal town of New Bedford, Massachusetts was established as a whaling port and by the 18th Century it had become one of the top whaling cities in America. In the early 19th century hundreds of ships regularly departed New Bedford heading out to the Pacific Ocean. In 1848 Lewis Temple, a New Bedford resident, invented the toggling harpoon which revolutionized the whaling industry, helping to cement New Bedford as the most powerful city in the whaling industry. However at the start of the California Gold Rush in 1849 many whalers quit their jobs to find their fortune on the Californian gold fields. In 1859 the discovery of petroleum, a popular alternative to whale oil, led to the beginning of the decline in whaling. The Whaling Disaster of 1871, when 22 whalers from New Bedford were lost in the ice off Alaska, provided another blow to the whaling industry, and whaling in New Bedford eventually came to an end in 1925. However the growth of the textile industry in New Bedford in the 1880s was large enough to sustain its economy. This was spurred on by the creation of the New Bedford Textile School which opened in 1899, which inspired an era of textile prosperity. 32 cotton-manufacturing companies established in New Bedford during this time employed over 30,000 people. This prosperous textile period lasted until the 1940s.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: New Bedford, Fifty Years Ago

    Web title: New Bedford, Fifty Years Ago

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