"A Short History of Cape Cod"

7/7/2010

Cape Cod was once known primarily for its industry, such as the processing of guano and fish oil, according to Robert J. Allison, chair of the History Department, whose newest book chronicles the history of the peninsula where the Pilgrims first landed.

A Short History of Cape Cod offers a captivating look at the seaside paradise, illustrated with more than 100 photographs. It includes 20 personal profiles of historic figures and a detailed chronology. 

Allison explains that Cape Cod wasn’t always a recreation spot. The Cape became a vacation destination after World War II, when servicemen who had trained there began to introduce their families to its beaches and dunes. These jaunts paved the way for today’s Cape Cod vacations.

Before this 20th century transformation, factories were more the norm for Cape Cod. Penzance Point in Falmouth was a guano manufactory; Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, also known as "Hell Town," had a fish oil plant.

“Men once set out to hunt whales from Provincetown Harbor,” Allison writes. “Today boats go to watch the whales and study them.”

Landmarks detailed in Allison’s history include the Wellfleet site of Guglielmo Marconi’s first transatlantic radio transmission as well as more obscure places, such as the country’s first traffic rotary, built in 1914.

Allison profiles famous residents ranging from authors Kurt Vonnegut and John Dos Passos to Joseph P. Kennedy, patriarch of the Kennedy clan, and President Grover Cleveland.

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