Salem's Bewitching Main Streets

September 30, 2012  •  1 Comment

There probably isn't another city more renowned for witch tourism and witchcraft folklore than Salem, Massachusetts.  Unmatched in its witch legends, Salem's main streets portray a unique cultural and historical heritage.  I was spooked (pun intended) by my reaction to this historic city during a recent visit and came away with three reflections.

Copyright 2012, Cindy A Stephens

First reflection: the city has widely commercialized its historical legacy of witchcraft folklore.  Salem's Witch House, along with many historical artifacts from the witch trials era of 1692, are important symbols of our cultural heritage.  In stark contrast, Salem also boasts a plethora of shops devoted to inexpensive witchcraft souvenirs, carnival-esque figures and ghoulish attractions, which distracted me from the city's important legacy.


Second reflection: there is an eclectic blend of old and new culture.  You'll find signs of the past on almost any New England main street since many of these towns still pay homage to their 1600's heritage.  In Salem, I also saw the efforts of the Salem Main Streets program that guides the revitalization of the downtown district.  The vibrant pedestrian-only streets reflect an unusual mix of the city's heritage alongside trendy restaurants, small businesses and artist studios.

Copyright 2012, Cindy A Stephens

Third reflection: Salem seems to embrace individuality, in contrast perhaps to its witch trials era.  A vibrant artist community includes Artists' Row and the well-known Peabody Essex Museum, which includes collections of contemporary and historic America, Asian, Maritime, Oceanic and other culture.

Copyright 2012, Cindy A Stephens

Wikipedia defines intangible culture as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge.  I found Salem resplendent in it.  Perhaps you'll be one of the more than 100,000 visitors to the city this October to enjoy its month-long haunted happenings celebration.



You might also be interested in:

Other images from main streets across New England (online gallery)

Photographing a Summer Evening in Downtown Nashua New Hampshire (blog post)

Celebrating the 4th of July on Main Street, Wakefield, MA (blog post)


Until the next journey ... - Cindy


Don McLagan(non-registered)
Cindy's photographic Salem reflections in the fall mirror the reflections of the Mass Poetry Festival held in Salem in the spring. Both imaginative and worthwhile.
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I am a marketing professional and a fine art photographer.  With more than 20 years of experience as a marketer and image maker during the digital technology revolution, I now educate creative professionals how to create their artistic presence in the changing art world.  


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