I lived in the Salem, Massachusetts for many years. While I grew up in neighboring Peabody, I moved to the City of Salem MA as an adult. Salem still holds a place in my heart, even though I’m about a thousand miles south now.
Salem fascinates people all over. No matter where I am, when I bring up the City of Salem MA in conversation, we talk about witches, but there’s so much more people don’t know.
Salem’s 17th-century infamy and its hub-bub for Halloween are what tourists come thousands of miles for. It drives the economy. So, I never bemoaned the Bewitched statue that sits prominently in a central location.
While I don’t miss the crowds in October, I do miss the great things that only residents of Salem know.
Top Reasons to Love the City of Salem MA
I asked my favorite Salem Facebook group what they thought the top reasons for loving to live in Salem were. Overwhelming, history was their top choice.
Here is how this group of 200 members rated Salem’s best features in priority order:
- Culture (museums, restaurants, etc.)
- Location to Boston
It’s Not All About Witches and Halloween
You can’t escape Salem’s witch past. Even the police department’s logo bears a witch on a broomstick.
But what is more interesting to me is how the city of Salem embeds its history in nearly everything it does.
As stated in the documentary Mightier Than a Wrecking Ball, a film about Ada Louise Huxtable’s influence on the preservation of Salem:
“We all need a sense of where we have come from in order to be able to understand where we are headed.” –Bill Tinti, former chairman of the Salem Redevelopment Authority
Salem doesn’t let its dark history mar its future. It embraces it. And it shows: in its architecture, in its people, and in its vibe. That’s one of the reasons I love to write about it so much—set my books in Salem or give them a strong connection to the Boston area.
I Love the Variety of People
Walk through downtown Salem and you’ll come upon hordes of great restaurants (some of which I wrote about here), unique gift shops, and fascinating people.
It’s not uncommon to be traipsing along your merry way and stumble upon Laurie Cabot, the Official Witch of Salem, coming out of a grocery store.
You can eat at a fine establishment or a greasy spoon and strike up a great conversation with a neighborly customer or a friendly server.
Moreover, Salem is about acceptance. Perhaps they’re still repenting for what they did to those accused of witchcraft. Who cares. I love that if you’re Wiccan, gay, Jewish, Catholic, female, African-American, a white conservative male, or [insert category here], you’ll fit in.
Salem is perfect for artists. Many writers, musicians, painters, actors, etc. call the Witch City home. Organizations like Creative Salem work with the local businesses to use artists’ services.
Many Architectural Gems Decorate the City of Salem MA
I can’t do justice in writing about the architectural details of the famous McIntire homes or even the cute bayfront cottages at Juniper Point, near the Salem Willows. I’m not smart enough. I just know what I like.
One of Salem’s gems, in my humble opinion, is Greenlawn Cemetery—a beautiful 100-acre lot filled with winding lanes, a large variety of plant life, and stunning architecture. The cemetery’s remarkable features make the more than 6,000 burial spots there barely noticeable—yet some stones are gorgeous in their own right.
When lived in Salem, I often visited my grandmother’s grave at Greenlawn Cemetery. Her plot was under the shade of a pine tree and hardly anything grew there, except for a hedge that I’d have to prune each spring. But, I marveled at the serenity of this place. (I pay it homage in the novel I’m working on.)
Historic buildings are plentiful in the City of Salem MA. Some of my favorites aren’t so pretty. I love the dilapidated house behind the Ropes Mansion and the Peabody house on Charter Street. There’s a colorful past there, from what I’ve heard.
Then, there’s Chestnut Street, where anything on it is stunning. Also, many of the unique homes that dot Salem Common are just exquisite.
The Salem Historical Society and Historical Salem, Inc. (HSI) are organizations dedicated to preserving Salem’s legacy of historic houses, buildings, and other structures. Some residents don’t like being told what they can do with their properties. Arguments occur. There’s a fine line between knowing when something is a wreck and when it can be salvaged.
Picture Perfect City of Salem MA
I can’t take a picture to save my life (hence the Colorfy picture above), but if you want great photographs of Salem, check out @HelloSalem on Instagram and Facebook.
Hollywood has certainly taken notice of the North Shore. And when Hollywood comes here, you know the scenery is spectacular. What would The Crucible or Hocus Pocus be without the Witch City?
I’d like to see more films shot in Salem. Even Hocus Pocus had a lot of footage filmed in neighboring Marblehead. The “Headers,” as we call them, seem to get everything. But, Ada Louise Huxtable summered there, so I shouldn’t spurn the little town.
From its Peabody/Danvers borders to Beverly Harbor. From the Salem Willows to Winter Island. Pickering Wharf to the Harbor Walk and into Palmer Cove. Then, Forest River Park’s magnificence to the Marblehead line. You’ll find beautiful picture views all along the way.
Not everything’s rosy in Salem. Nothing is perfect. Congestion, parking, density, and traffic trouble many of its residents. The Bridge Street Neck area has gone through much restoration and still empty storefronts and run-down homes blight the area. The Point sees the most crime in the city. But Salem doesn’t let its past tarnish its future. There’s a reason why residents love living in the City of Salem MA because it’s awesome.
Are you from Salem? Have you visited? What do you like about it? What don’t you like? If you appreciated this article, let me know and sign up for my free newsletter to keep in touch.