Someone should do a guesstimate of the number of bricks in coastal downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts. Between the sublime curve of buildings at the bottom of State Street, the dizzying triangle of Market Square, and the narrow alleyways stealing off like the Artful Dodger, it’s a boggling convergence of mortar, brick, and seaport quaintness.
In fact, it’s also completely lovely, this stroll through a patch of New England waterfront history, dropped like flotsam along the banks of the swiftly moving Merrimack. Hard to imagine the seediness and hard drinking that made this town a place to avoid, rather than a destination, until the late ‘60s and ‘70s, when Mayor Byron Matthews stepped in and cleared out the water rats. Brawls gave way to bistros, and the luster of a bona fide Federal-era beauty began to shine through. Sidewalk cafes serving Mexican, Italian, and Indian specialties rest side by side with all the seafood you’d expect in a bustling port town.
Find your own side street, feel the cobblestones under your feet, and inhale the salty smell of history.