About This Place
New Bedford is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States, located 51 miles (82 kilometers) south of Boston, 28 miles (45 kilometers) southeast of Providence, Rhode Island, and about 12 miles (19 kilometers) east of Fall River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 95,072, making it the sixth-largest city in Massachusetts. New Bedford is nicknamed "The Whaling City" because it was, during the 19th century, one of the most important whaling ports in the world. The city, along with Fall River and Taunton, is one of three cities on the south coast of Massachusetts.
Before the 17th century, the Wampanoags, who had settlements throughout southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, were the only inhabitants of the lands along the Acushnet River. Their population is believed to have been about 12,000. While exploring New England, Bartholomew Gosnold landed on Cuttyhunk island on May 15, 1602. From there, he explored Cape Cod and the neighboring areas, including present-day New Bedford. However, rather than settle the area, he returned to England at the request of his crew.
Europeans first settled New Bedford in 1652. Plymouth Colony settlers purchased the land from chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe. Whether the transfer of the land was legitimately done has been the subject of intense controversy. Like other native tribes, the Wampanoags did not share the settlers' concepts of private property. The tribe believed they were granting usage rights to the land, not giving it up permanently.