Celebrating Salem's Rich Maritime History

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Salem’s prominence in sea trade was unparalleled during the late 18th century to the first half of the 19th century (late 1700's - War of 1812). With over 50 wharves in it's glorious harbor, Salem welcomed thousands of ships in the later half of the 19th century. The decorative ship carving trade flourished in Salem during this period. Figureheads or ornamental carvings, typically of women, were mounted under the bowsprit of sailing ships, and served as a sign of recognition and call for prosperity. Housing an impressive permannant collection of figureheads, The Peabody Essex Museum is now home to the original figurehead of the tall-ship, Friendship, a 171-foot three-masted Salem East Indiaman built in 1797. The project "Lady” is an interpretation of an historic figurehead, "The Jenny Lind," carved in Salem for the clipper ship Nightingale. The Lady of Salem, Public Maritime-Arts Festival seeks to embody this source of Salem pride, and embark on a journey of artistic interpretaion of figureheads by the local business, private sponsors and arts communities.

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