New Bedford is a city in Bristol County hosting the nation’s most successful fishing fleet. It is located 51 miles south of Boston, 28 miles southeast of Providence, Rhode Island, and about 12 miles east of Fall River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 95,072, making it the sixth-largest city in Massachusetts. The city, along with Fall River and Taunton, is one of three cities on the South Coast of Massachusetts.
New Bedford is nicknamed “The Whaling City” because it was, during the 19th century, one of the most important whaling ports in the world. As a reminder of its glory days, the downtown area is paved with cobblestones and dotted with historic storefronts. Many of the storefronts now house galleries, restaurants and pubs.
Route 18, which once cut through downtown New Bedford separating the cobblestone-lined attractions from the waterfront, has been turned into a boulevard. A renaissance of business and the arts is growing in the city. New parks are springing up, and a walkway along the Acushnet River is planned for the future in New Bedford’s north end.
Stately old whaling captain mansions line the streets to the west. One such house is part of the Whaling National Historic Park. Attractions include the world-class New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Ocean Explorium, the New Bedford Art Museum, the Zeiterion Theater among other points of interest. Also downtown are two satellite campuses: one for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts and the other for Bristol Community College.
New Bedford was also an active participant in the Underground Railroad helping slaves to find freedom. Frederick Douglass, famous former slave, author and abolitionist, made his home here. Herman Melville also shipped out from New Bedford in 1841, inspiring him to write the novel Moby Dick.
New Bedford is governed by a Mayor-Council form of government. The mayor is currently Jonathan Mitchell, a Democrat, who defeated State Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral in the 2011 mayoral election when incumbent Scott Lang decided not to seek reelection for a fourth term.
The New Bedford Police Department patrols the city from four stations. The main station is located on Rockdale Avenue in a converted supermarket plaza and replaces the former headquarters located downtown). The Fire Department is full-time, and has seven firehouses distributed around the city. There are four post offices, the Central (a scaled replica of New York’s Penn Station Post Office) located downtown, one located in the South End, and two more located in the North End. The city has a regional airport which serves as the “Gateway to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard”.
New Bedford is home to the South Terminal under construction in the harbor where wind turbines will be assembled for the Cape Wind project. The South Coast extension of the Boston train system will bring mass transit to New Bedford in the future for easy and eco-friendly commuting into our Commonwealth’s capitol.