New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, New Bedford

#2 of 25 in Things to do in New Bedford
Must see · National Park · Historic Site
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park (NBWNHP) is a United States National Historical Park in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS). The park commemorates the heritage of the world's preeminent whaling port during the nineteenth century.

Established in 1996, the park encompasses 34 acres (fourteen hectares) dispersed over thirteen city blocks. It includes a visitor center, the New Bedford National Historic Landmark District, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Seamen's Bethel, the schooner Ernestina, and the Rotch–Jones–Duff House and Garden Museum.

As a National Park, the NBWNHP is rather unusual in that the only properties owned by the NPS are the Visitor Center and the Corson Maritime Learning Center. Rather, the park is a historic district administered under a partnership between the NPS, the City of New Bedford and private building owners to preserve the historic landscapes, structures, and collections and promote research and educational programming associated with the history of whaling. The enabling legislation also established a formal affiliation with the Iñupiat Heritage Center in Utqiaġvik, Alaska, to commemorate the more than 2,000 whaling voyages from New Bedford to the Western Arctic. The city promotes visitation to the park through advertising that calls it "New England's real seaport", as opposed to Connecticut's Mystic Seaport Museum which is a collection of historic buildings and vessels moved from various other locations throughout the region.

Although the famed Whaleman Memorial (commonly called the "Whaleman's Statue") is not within the park's boundaries, it is located only two blocks beyond its western boundary at the corner of William and Pleasant Streets in front of the New Bedford Public Library.

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New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
182 reviews
  • I should add, my Westport neighbor Captain Paul Cuffee, born on Cuttyhunk Island to his freed slave father, has a garden dedicated to him here. He ran a store in the corner brick building, attached.....  more »
  • Enjoyed and appreciated the historic buildings and the signage was so interesting. The cobblestone streets were well preserved and kept you on course. It was a perfect fall day and an enjoyable walk.....  more »
  • I have visited this place for the first time and found it extremely informative and interesting. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful. The fact that they offer walking tours that are free is extremely helpful. They also offer special services and space for creative services. I would highly recommend that you stop by and learn more about the early history of this country. Thumbs up and keep up the great job. The history behind the place is very important and interesting.
  • Lots of interesting information about New Bedford, whales, and whaling. I think it should be called the New Bedford/whaling museum though. Certain exhibits had nothing to do with whaling, but were about the history of New Bedford, while others were about whales and whaling internationally. Still, there's a lot of good information here and it's presented well and is very interesting. Worth a visit. The half-scale whaling ship in the middle of the museum was cool to stand in. Small space to live/work in for years at a time.

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