manchester yacht club pavilion
Geoff Rand
Red-roofed pavilion in front of the Manchester Yacht Club.

James Fields, the renown Boston publisher, put "Manchester-by-the-Sea" on his letterhead sometime after building his Manchester summer house in the 1870s. His correspondents, including Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Greenleaf Whittier, gently mocked him with replies from Beverly-by-the-Depot and Haverhill-by-the-Hollyhocks.{NS p.103} We'd like to think that when the town officially adopted the vaguely European suffix in 1990, it did so with tongue at least partly in cheek.

That said, Manchester is by-the-sea. An arriving sailor's first view is of the oceanfront estates, from Gilded Age to Tech Bubble, that line most of the rocky shore. Inside the slim well-protected harbor may be the prettiest shoreline attached to a full-sized town in all New England. The yacht club, private boat houses, boat yards, town docks and thickly placed moorings make an unambiguous impression. One resident, taking sides in a zoning dispute over a horse farm, put it bluntly: "Manchester is about boats."

more on Manchester. . .