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Cape Cod Town of Harwich MA Overview & Map

The Town of Harwich is a resort and residential community located on the south side of the Cape, with an extensive shoreline on Nantucket Sound. Harwich is a large town and enjoys the distinction of being the center of the Lower Cape, It contains a number of stores, several banks and supports a weekly newspaper. Harwich was settled around 1665, and incorporated in 1694.

Harwich was originally a part of Yarmouth but was set off as a separate town in 1694, and for years was known by its Indian name, Satucket. Its early economy included agriculture and maritime industries and its history has included boom and bust cycles from the earliest days of the community.

When the whaling industry collapsed with the discovery of oil, the community’s emphasis shifted to cod fishing. By 1802, 15 to 20 ships were shore fishing and another four ships were cod fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador, and by 1851, there were 48 ships employing 577 men and bringing in thousands of tons of cod and mackerel.

Harwich is primarily engaged in cranberry raising and has some very profitable cranberry bogs, but its main attention is devoted to furnishing recreation for summer visitors. It is an ideal place for yachting containing three excellent harbors. At one time it was a leader in the fishing industry once having a fleet of 40 boats owned and operated from the town with most of them built there.

The eventual decline of the fishing industry in Harwich by the latter part of the 19th century was caused by increases in the size of ships which eventually outgrew Harwich’s relatively shallow ports. Residents turned to the development of cranberry bogs and resorts for summer visitors.

The first resort hotel opened in 1880 and both the cranberry and the tourist industries remain substantial parts of Harwich’s economy in the present. Commercial, motel and condominium development has been intense along the Route 28 corridor and suburban development has significantly decreased the remaining agricultural landscape, but the town retains much of its 19th century character, including period Portuguese farmhouses.

Harwich is located in the southeast portion of Cape Cod. Bordered by Dennis to the west, Brewster and Orleans to the north, Chatham to the east, and Nantucket Sound to the south. Harwich is about 12 miles from Hyannis, 82 miles southeast of Boston, and 260 miles from New York City.

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Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 08/15/06
Categories: HarwichPlaces
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