Nahant ( /nəhɑːnt/) is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 3,632 at the 2000 census. With just 1.2 square miles (3.2 km²) of land area, it is the smallest municipality in the state, and the smallest town in New England. It is primarily a residential community.
Native Americans called the area "Nahant," meaning "the point" or "almost an island." The original Indian name of the place, "Nahanten", signifies twins or two things united, referring to the two connected islands forming it. Located on a rocky peninsula jutting into Massachusetts Bay, it was first settled in 1630, in the second year of the Puritan coming. The servants of Isaac Johnson grazed his cattle on the land, and it was also often used by citizens of Lynn for grazing cattle, sheep and goats. Before 1800 there were only three homes on the island those built by the Breeds and the Hoods, and the Johnson home built by Jeremiah Gray. The first hotel was built by one of the Johnsons 1802, and in 1817 a steamboat ran daily between Boston and Nahant. The town was originally part of Lynn; when the temperance movement threatened the summer resort trade in 1853, Nahant incorporated as a separate town. In the late 19th century, it was home to some of the country's first amusement parks, as well as a popular summer retreat for the wealthy, including the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. During World War II, East Point was the site of a coastal artillery. It is now a town park, and location of the Marine Science Center for Northeastern University.
The old Nahant Life Saving Station (NLSS) on Nahant Road, and the new War Memorial erected across the street [from the NLSS] were renovated in 2004.