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New Bedford, Massachusetts

View of ships docked at New Bedford
View of ships docked at New Bedford
New Bedford is a city located in Bristol County, Massachusetts. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 93,768.


New Bedford is located at 41°39'6" North, 70°56'1" West (41.651803, -70.933705).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 62.2 km² (24.0 mi²). 52.1 km² (20.1 mi²) of it is land and 10.1 km² (3.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 16.23% water.

A view of New Bedford from the harbor
A view of New Bedford from the harbor


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 93,768 people, 38,178 households, and 24,090 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,799.4/km² (4,660.0/mi²). There are 41,511 housing units at an average density of 796.6/km² (2,063.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 78.86% White, 4.39% African American, 0.62% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 9.51% from other races, and 5.92% from two or more races. 10.21% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 38,178 households out of which 31.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.5% are married couples living together, 18.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.9% are non-families. 31.6% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.40 and the average family size is 3.01.

In the city the population is spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 84.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $27,569, and the median income for a family is $35,708. Males have a median income of $31,388 versus $22,278 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,602. 20.2% of the population and 17.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 29.1% of those under the age of 18 and 15.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

View of historical New Bedford harbor
View of historical New Bedford harbor


New Bedford was first settled in 1640 and was officially incorporated in 1787. It originally began as part of the colonial town of Old Dartmouth (which encompassed not only New Bedford, but also present-day Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and Westport). The land was acquired by the settlers of the Plymouth Colony and was originally owned by the Wampanoag tribe. Whether or not the transfer of the land was legitimately done is a matter of debate; the tribe claims that they were unaware at the time that the land would be taken from them permanently.

The economy of the area was initially based around a few farming and fishing villages. As time went by a section of the colony called Bedford Village, near the west bank of the Acushnet River, turned into a commercial zone and from there became a major whaling and foreign trade port. By the 18th century, entrepreneurs in the area, such as whaling merchants from Nantucket, were attracted to the village and helped make it into one of the top whaling cities in the world.

With its control over the whaling industry, New Bedford became (up until the Great Depression) one of the richest cities in the country. Herman Melville, famous for his novel Moby Dick, worked in New Bedford as a whaler and made it the initial setting of his most famous novel. Frederick Douglass, the famous abolitionist, lived there and today has a historical building and memorial in the city dedicated to him.

New Bedford was also the home of some members of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, an American Civil War regiment fighting for the Union and the first ever all-African-American regiment in the country's history. Most famous of these soldiers was William H. Carney, who made sure that the American flag never touched the ground during the attack on Fort Wagner. There is a school named in his honor in New Bedford today.

Sites of interest

New Bedford is the home of The New Bedford Whaling Museum, the centerpiece of the Whaling National Historical Park. It is the country's largest museum on the subject of whaling and the history of interaction between humans and whales.

See also

External links

Last updated: 05-07-2005 02:29:37
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04