How Nantucket Came to Be the Whaling Capital of the World

Today Nantucket Island is a fashionable summer resort: a place of T-shirt shops and trendy boutiques. It’s also a place of picture-perfect beaches where even at the height of summer you can stake out a wide swath of sand to call your own. Part of what makes the island unique is its place on the map. More than 25 miles off the coast of Massachusetts and only 14 miles long, Nantucket is, as Herman Melville wrote in Moby-Dick, “away off shore.” But what makes Nantucket truly different is its past. For a relatively brief period during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this lonely crescent of sand at the edge of the Atlantic was the whaling capital of the world and one of the wealthiest communities in America. click here to read the story 14:46