|Town & County of Nantucket, Massachusetts|
|— Town —|
Location in Nantucket County in Massachusetts
|- Type||Open town meeting|
|- Total||105.3 sq mi (272.6 km2)|
|- Land||47.8 sq mi (123.8 km2)|
|- Water||57.5 sq mi (148.8 km2)|
|Elevation||30 ft (9 m)|
|- Density||220.3/sq mi (85.1/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|- Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|Area code(s)||508 / 774|
|GNIS feature ID||0619376|
Nantucket is an island 30 miles (48.3 km) south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in the United States. Together with the small islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget, it constitutes the town of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and the coterminous Nantucket County, which are consolidated. Part of the town is designated the Nantucket CDP, or census designated place. The region of Surfside on Nantucket is the southernmost settlement in Massachusetts.
Nantucket is a tourist destination and summer colony. The population of the island soars from approximately 10,000 to 50,000 during the summer months, due to tourists and summer residents. According to Forbes Magazine, in 2006, Nantucket had the highest median property value of any Massachusetts zip code.
The Nantucket Historic District, comprising all of Nantucket Island, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 13, 1966. In doing so the National Park Service paid particular note to the settlements of Nantucket and Siasconset. The island features one of the highest concentrations of pre-Civil War structures in the United States.
Also nicknamed "The Grey Lady" due to occasional intense fog, Nantucket takes its name from a word in an Eastern Algonquian language of southern New England, originally spelled variously as natocke, nantaticut, nantican, and nautican. The meaning of the term is uncertain, though it may have meant "in the midst of waters," or "far away island."
Other sources state the Native American word "Natockete," meaning "faraway land," to be Nantucket's namesake. The Wampanoag Native Americans referred to the island as "Canopache," or "place of peace."
The island's beginnings in western history can possibly be traced to its conjectured sighting by Norsemen in the 11th century. But it was not until 1602 that Captain Bartholomew Gosnold of Falmouth, England sailed his bark Concord past the bluffs of Siasconset and really put Nantucket on the map. The island's original inhabitants, the Wampanoag Indians, lived undisturbed until 1641 when the island was deeded by the English (the authorities in control of all land from the coast of Maine to New York) to Thomas Mayhew and his son, merchants of Watertown and Martha's Vineyard. Nantucket was part of Dukes County, New York until 1691, when it was transferred to the newly formed Province of Massachusetts Bay and split off to form Nantucket County. The entire area of the New York county had been purchased by Thomas Mayhew Sr. of Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1641, buying out competing land claims. The earliest English settlement in the area began on neighboring island Martha's Vineyard.
As Europeans began to settle Cape Cod, the island became a place of refuge for regional Indians, as Nantucket was not yet settled by Europeans. The growing population of Native Americans welcomed seasonal groups of Indians who traveled to the island to fish and later harvest whales that washed up on shore.
The history of Nantucket's settlement by the English did not began in earnest until 1659, when Thomas Mayhew sold his interest to the "nine original porchasers," Tristram Coffin, Thomas Macy, Christopher Hussey, Richard Swayne, Thomas Barnard, Peter Coffin, Stephen Greenleafe, John Swayne and William Pike, "for the sum of thirty Pounds...and also two beaver hats, one for myself, and one for my wife." Seamen and tradesmen began to populate Nantucket, such as Richard Gardner son of Thomas Gardner (planter) who moved there from Salem in 1667. 
Nantucket was formerly the world's leading whaling port (and still serves as home port for a small fishing industry). Herman Melville comments on Nantucket's whaling dominance in Moby Dick, Chapter 14: "Two thirds of this terraqueous globe are the Nantucketer's. For the sea is his; he owns it, as Emperors own empires." Melville's character Starbuck is from Nantucket.
In his 1835 history of Nantucket Island, Obed Macy wrote that in the early pre-1672 colony a whale of the kind called "scragg" entered the harbor and was pursued and killed by the settlers. This event started the Nantucket whaling industry. A. B. Van Deinse points out that the "scrag whale", described by P. Dudley in 1725 as one of the species hunted by the early New England whalers, was almost certainly the Gray Whale which has flourished on the West Coast of North America with protection from whaling.
By 1850, whaling was in decline and the island suffered great economic hardships, worsened by the 1846 "Great Fire" that, fueled by whale oil and lumber, devastated the main town, burning some 36 acres. It left hundreds homeless and poverty stricken, and many people left the island. Another contributor to the decline was the silting up of the harbor which prevented the large whaling ships from entering and leaving the port. In addition, the development of railroads made mainland whaling ports more attractive because of the ease of transshipment of whale oil onto trains, an advantage unavailable to an island.
As a result of this depopulation, the island was left under-developed and isolated until the mid-20th century. The isolation kept many of the pre-Civil War buildings intact and by the 1950s, enterprising developers began buying up large sections of the island and restoring them to create an upmarket destination for the wealthy in the Northeastern United States. This highly controlled development can be compared to neighboring Martha's Vineyard, the development of which served as a model for what the Nantucket developers wanted to avoid.
In the 1960s Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard considered seceding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 1977, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard actually attempted (unsuccessfully) to secede from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The secession vote was sparked by a proposed change to the Massachusetts Constitution, which reduced the islands' representation in the Massachusetts General Court.
Nantucket was formed by the uttermost reach of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the recent Wisconsin Glaciation, shaped by the subsequent rise in sea level. The island's low ridge across the northern section was deposited as glacial moraine during a period of glacial standstill, a period during which till continued to arrive, but melted at a stationary front. The southern part of the island is an outwash plain, sloping away from the arc of moraine and shaped at its margins by the sorting actions and transport of longshore drift. Nantucket became an island when rising sea levels reflooded Buzzards Bay about 5,000–6,000 years ago.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Nantucket County has a total area of 303.5 sq mi (786 km2), 84.25% of which is water. The area of Nantucket Island proper is 47.8 sq mi(123.8 km2). The triangular region of ocean between Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod, is Nantucket Sound. The highest point on the island is Folger Hill which stands 109 feet (33 m) above sea level. Altar Rock is a close second at a height of 108 feet (33 m) above sea level.
The entire island, as well as the adjoining islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget, comprise both the Town of Nantucket and the County of Nantucket. The main settlement, also called Nantucket, is located at the western end of Nantucket Harbor, where it opens into Nantucket Sound. Key localities on the island include Madaket, Surfside, Polpis, Wauwinet, Massachusetts, Miacomet and Siasconset (often abbreviated as 'Sconset).
Coatue is a long barrier beach on Nantucket Island, separating Nantucket Sound from Nantucket Harbor. It has six points: First Point is situated due north of the village of Shimmo's Pimneys Point. Second Point, is north-northeast of the village of Shawkemo. Second Point is salt marsh. Third Point is due north of the Pocomo Peninsula, which contains the villages of Pocomo and West Wauwinet. The gap between Coatue and Pocomo is called the Wauwinet Straits. This deep and swift waterway has currents that reach 5 knots (9.3 km/h). Bass Point is the first point totally within Wauwinet Harbor. Wyers Point, the last point of land on Coatue, Wyers is connected to Coskata. At the head of Coatue is Coskata Pond.
Hummock Pond is a large pond on the south shore of Nantucket Island. It was created in the last ice age by the ice melt and used to be much larger, but during the blizzard of 1978 large swells from the Atlantic closed off the smaller western half, known as Clark's Cove. The pond is narrow and one of the deepest on Nantucket, and north head of the pond is connected by a small river. The north head is an extremely deep kettle hole with steep sides. The pond offers many kayaking opportunities, but is prone to strong south to southwesterly breezes.
|Basin countries||United States|
|Max. depth||20 ft (6.1 m)|
Miacomet Pond is a narrow, slender pond on the south shore of Nantucket Island. The pond was once a river, but the oceans rose to make Nantucket an island in the last ice age. On average the pond is approximately 100 yards (91 m) wide, thus giving the appearance of a river. The northern head of the pond is only ten feet wide and was once connected to Nantucket Harbor via Newtown Creek. The maximum depth of the pond is twenty eight feet. The southern end of the pond is a sandy beach. Occasionally the pond is opened up to the sea.
The Popsquatchet Hills are a range of peaks on Nantucket Island. Seldom reaching 100 feet, they can be considered the divide of Nantucket. Prospect Hill, the westernmost, is the location of the town's municipal cemetery. Chicken Hill is the next hill to the northeast. On the eastern side of Chicken Hill, there is a very deep valley known as Dead Horse Valley. On the north face of the hill, is Colt Valley.
Mill Hill, the hill nearest Hospital Valley, has the Old Mill sitting on its summit. Roads are frequent in the hills. Prospect Street, the main thoroughfare on the west end of town, is the northern side of the hills. Vesper Lane, is the southern boundary. Milk Street, is the northern boundary of the range. There are several smaller roads leading into the hills, but some of them have grown over.
In the winter time, Dead Horse Valley is the island's best sledding area. Chicken Hill was named for an old chicken farm maintained by William G. Egan.
Squam Swamp, a large swamp in the northeastern portion of the island of Nantucket, is located between Wauwinet Road, Squam Road, and Quidnet Road, just northwest of Quidnet and northeast of Polpis Harbor.
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,520 people, 3,699 households, and 2,104 families residing in Nantucket. The population density was 199.1 people per square mile (76.9/km2). There were 9,210 housing units at an average density of 192.6/sq mi (74.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 87.85% White, 8.29% Black, 0.64% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.01% Native American, 1.60% from other races, and 1.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.23% of the population. 19.9% were of Irish, 17.1% English, 7.2% Italian, 6.1% Portuguese, 6.0% German and 5.1% French ancestry according to Census 2000. 92.6% spoke English, 4.1% Spanish and 1.6% French as their first language.
There were 3,699 households out of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.7% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.1% were non-families. 29.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the town the population was spread out with 19.2% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 40.4% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% at 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 105.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.0 males.
The median income for a household for year-round residents in the town is $55,522, and the median income for a family was $66,786. Males had a median income of $41,116 versus $31,608 for females. The per capita income for the town was $31,314. About 3.0% of families and 7.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.3% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.
Nantucket is served by Nantucket Public Schools. The Nantucket school system has approximately 1,200 students, about 400 of whom attend the high school.
See more from Nantucket Public Schools from Plum TV on Nantucket.
A major museum association, the Maria Mitchell Association, offers educational programs to the Nantucket Public Schools.
Nantucket is served by Nantucket Memorial Airport, a three-runway airport on the south side of the island. The airport is one of the busiest in the Commonwealth and often logs more take-offs and landings on a pleasant summer day than Boston's Logan airport. This is due in part to the large number of private/corporate planes used by wealthy summer inhabitants, and in part to the 10-seat Cessna 402s used by several commercial air carriers to serve the island community. The airport is currently undergoing an expansion.
Nantucket Regional Transit Authority (NRTA) operates seasonal island-wide shuttle buses to many destinations including Surfside Beach, Sconset, and the airport.
Nantucket can be reached by sea from the mainland by using one of three commercial ferry services or by private boat.
Historically, Nantucket was served by the narrow-gauge Nantucket Railroad. There is not a single traffic light on the Island of Nantucket (except for the one in the car wash), and cars were not permitted on the Island until 1918.
Major disasters on or near Nantucket, include:
The following Nantucket places are listed on the National Register of Historic Places; and the List of Registered Historic Places in Nantucket County, Massachusetts: