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Riassunto: Mention "The North Shore" in certain circles and you’ll evoke images of red-jacketed equestrians and white yachts bobbing at anchor off Marblehead or Manchester. This was where Boston’s brahmins summered in the nineteenth century, as described in Joe Garland’s The North Shore (page 4), and the region still has a certain social cachet. But taken as the stretch of coast from Boston’s city limits north to the New Hampshire border, the North Shore is a remarkably diverse neighborhood, a hotbed of history, and a glorious place to live. Welsch is a hotojournalist, which means she captures not only the beautiful places but also the fascinating people from Revere to Rockport, Saugus to Salisbury. Those who relished Welsch’s Boston’s North Shore wall calendar published by Commonwealth Editions (2000–2002) will love this volume, as will anyone who has lived or left his or her heart here.
From the Publisher: Foreword
Boston has never had a shore to speak of, not to the north anyway, where the Mystic River empties into the harbor and the Boston waterfront is studded with wharves. A North End, yes, but a North Shore? That was a latter-day creation.
Not until transportation of one kind and then another carried Bostonians out of their city did Boston acquire a shore up thataway. The stage carried eighteenth century travelers north along the Old Boston Road and Salem Turnpike. In the nineteenth century, the quicker, if noisier, iron horse chuffed and pushed farther still, to Cape Ann and eventually to Newburyport. More recently, the motorcar—and the modern highway system—has stretched our definition of Boston’s North Shore to an almost absurd limit, the New Hampshire border. Unless the good citizens of Portsmouth submit to colonization by Boston, the stretching likely will end there.
The economic and ethnic makeup of the shore has changed just as much. English at the outset and Brahmin in the nineteenth century, when city gentry discovered Nahant and the so-called Gold Coast from Beverly to Magnolia, Boston’s North Shore is now and is likely to remain a tasty bouillabaisse of cultures. Lynn is its own melting pot. Once one of the largest cities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the shoemaking capital of the country, and the world’s leading maker of ladies’ shoes, Lynn has staged comebacks again and again. Salem and Newburyport, once maritime powers and subsequently revived by light industry, fell on hard times after World War II but have rebounded with recent redevelopment. Gloucester, so dependent on fishing, has sailed on despite overfishing of the banks and government regulation of the fisheries. Who knows what Revere, once a legendary summer haven, will be twenty years from now? Will Ipswich or Rockport ever change? Those who live there hope not.
While the fortunes of the once-dominant cities of the shore—Lynn, Salem, Gloucester, and Newburyport primarily—have risen and fallen with long-term economic cycles, those of the towns gathered around them, especially the small ones, have remained far more constant. In Nahant, in Magnolia, on Plum Island, as in Ipswich, Rockport, Rowley, and Amesbury, the pace of life is slower, the streets narrower, the times more refreshingly backward. A dog still lazes in the street. The postman smiles and calls you by name. To be so close to Boston—and yet so close to up-country New England—is what makes living on Boston’s North Shore such a joy.
And so close to the sea. Even in Revere, huddled near the city’s towers and the airport’s roar, the ocean lies at the end of every cross street. Farther up the shore, it is perhaps the proximity of forest and surf, with stripes of marsh and ledge between them, that defines this part of the world. Stone walls crisscross the upper shore, where farming was once a way of life. In some places, the forests have regrown themselves, but elsewhere estates and, now, more efficient structures have replaced the farms. But drive up Route 1A above Ipswich on a sunny Sunday, and you’ll see enough horses, tractors, and furrows to recall early times. Essex Aggie and the Topsfield Fair are not here by accident.
Driving is the best way to see the North Shore. You can fly over it, as Ulrike Welsch did for some of the photos in this book, and you can sail or paddle past it, as generations have done, after and certainly before the arrival of European settlers. But with its back roads and shade trees, its sweeping landscapes and sudden ocean vistas, Boston’s North Shore was built for a Sunday drive on a Tuesday morning or Friday evening. If you want to go shopping, use the highways—95 and especially 128. If you want to see what life here is all about, 1A, 114, 127, 133, and other numbers on white signs are the ones for you.
Ulrike Welsch is the photographer for Boston’s North Shore. When I first conceived the idea of collecting North Shore photos—in a wall calendar for the year 2000—I thought I would gather a single image from each of a dozen artists. Then Uli, as friends know her, sent me a few hundred pictures culled from a career of artistry. In a second I realized, why haggle with twelve photographers when I could have the best all in one?
Uli has lived in Marblehead for going on four decades, yet she didn’t come by it as "Marbleheaders" do, which is to say she wasn’t born in the Mary E. Alley Hospital. Uli is from Germany, by way of the Boston Globe, where she was the first female photojournalist in the paper’s history. Since 1981, she has worked freelance, gathering breathtaking images from annual junkets to places as strange as Mongolia, Peru, and Montana. Yet she has always kept an eye open to the region that adopted her, Boston’s North Shore. And the proof, gentle reader, is in this volume.
Together, we compiled calendars for 2000, 2001, and 2002. Along the way, Uli created the galleries that became the books Marblehead (2000) and Boston Rediscovered (2002). With the publication of Boston’s North Shore in 2003, we continue a completely satisfying partnership of artist and publisher. I am proud to say that Uli Welsch is my friend and equally proud that her work is a cornerstone of Commonwealth Editions’ list.
Webster Bull, publisher
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