Gloucester has always been balanced between sea and rock, fishermen and fine artists, independent individualists and strong communities. Now, with its inaugural Harborwalk in place, visitors will get this visual and written glimpse of Gloucester’s real story. The new Harborwalk is a 1.2 mile loop that links the downtown to the waterfront along a marked trail and stops at a series of up to 41 granite-styled “story moments” that inform and inspire.
“The goal of the Harborwalk is to give people a chance to linger and immerse themselves in the stories of Gloucester,” said Carolyn Kirk, Mayor of Gloucester, whose city received a state grant to develop and build this unique attraction. “The walk is authentic Gloucester, right down to the seaglass and granite paving that leads the way.”
Along with municipal and state support, a very devoted team of volunteers and local experts created the 41 “story moments” that are the true showpiece of the Harborwalk. Each stop challenges locals and visitors to think, look around and contemplate the times which Gloucester has lived through. For example, many visitors and locals alike will be surprised to learn that famed American artist Edward Hopper completed 90 paintings based on the city of Gloucester. He is featured as one of the many fascinating ‘story moments’ on the walk.
‘When you catalog the works of Edward Hopper, you really catalog our city,’ said Catherine Ryan, a senior art industry professional from Gloucester who worked on the Harborwalk exhibit. Taking a moment to linger at the Hopper ‘story moment’ allows the visitor to continue to get a sense of what Hopper saw and painted. ‘What is so intriguing is that when Hopper came to Gloucester, he really walked this city,’ Ryan noted. ‘What is so great about the Harborwalk is visitors will realize that you can really follow in Hopper’s footsteps.”
While many visitors can complete a 1.2 mile walk rather briskly, the idea is to absorb oneself in the ‘story moments’ by using both imagination and modern technology. At each granite post, along with a brief explanation, quote or photograph, there is a Quick Response Code that will link ones mobile phone to more in-depth, online information about each piece of Gloucester’s rich character. And, at each of the 41 markers there is an icon – a Gloucester fisherman, a schooner, a Cod fish – that children can rub with pencils or sketch as a keepsake. There is enough variety on the Harborwalk to make it well worth walking it a few times during one’s stay here..
There is something for everyone on the Harborwalk and while the path will be clearly defined and markers easy to find, even Gloucester natives will find something unique to discover.
For foodies, one stop describes the recipe for St. Joseph Pasta, a favorite meal during the Feast of St. Joseph and birders will enjoy the detail of Gloucester’s international reputation as an ‘important bird area” Those drawn to Gloucester’s fishing history will appreciate details of Our Lady of Good Voyage Church or quotes by Rudyard Kipling, author of Captains Courageous. Other story moments include descriptions of salting fish, the granite industry, sea serpents, Winslow Homer, paint factories and dory fishing – all of the things that contributed to Gloucester’s longevity as a great seaport. Addtionally, the Harborwalk does loop along the places where there is public access including the Gloucester House, Solomon Jacob’s park and Maritime Gloucester on Harbor Loop.
“We feel Gloucester is one of the most important seaports in America,” said State Senator Bruce Tarr of Gloucester. “We think this Harborwalk will tell our story of innovation and history and we all need to be connected to this special place. We want our visitors to connect to this place, too.”