Part 3 – stealing you from Gloucester once and for all (I haven’t written Part 2 yet, so deal)
So you’ve come to Salem and fallen in love with the city. You’ve decided “I simply must live here!” and are willing to do whatever it takes. Well, you’re in luck. I’m here to steal you away.
Salem essentially has a few large neighborhoods where most people go. We have the Derby Street neighborhood, which is really the oldest neighborhood left after the Salem Fire of 1914. It’s filled with triple-deckers and historic homes from the 1700s and 1800s, many of which are condos nowadays. Parking sucks in the neighborhood, but it’s really walkable to almost the whole city – and it’s close to our seasonal Boston ferry for the commuters (they take T passes!).
The next neighborhood on the list is Bridge Street Neck. That’s the spit of land that connects Salem almost to Beverly, and it’s connected to the Salem Common neighborhood. Basically, as you get farther from Beverly the homes get bigger and more condo-y. There is a nice mix of small single-family homes and bigger multis. The west side of Bridge Street is a bit more twee.
Bridge Street Neck transitions into the Salem Common neighborhood once you cross Webb Street. The single-family homes there are freaking massive. Most were split up into condos, though. Really convenient to the downtown. Side streets can be really tight for parking. This is a meme in Salem. Everyone wants resident parking here, but not too many places have it.
The Point is a very dense neighborhood wedged between Lafayette and Congress Streets in the downtown. Housing is cheap, but it’s also where a lot of our police logs chronicle life. There are some better sections and streets but in general be aware in your housing choices. Quite a few of my friends live there and are very happy with it. The parks in the neighborhood are typically safe and pleasant, which is a good thing. Mind you, a “bad neighborhood” in a city like Salem is far safer than a bad neighborhood in a bigger city… I have a few friends who live down there and overall it’s pretty chill. This was the old French Canadian neighborhood at the turn of the last century for people who came to work the mills. Nowadays it’s mostly Hispanic – we have a lot of Dominican immigrants here.
Next we have South Salem, where I live. South Salem is split pretty much in two. I live in the section closer to town, with a mix of homes, a lot of college kids living in the area, and more walkable. The east side of Lafayette Street borders the harbor, and there’s some nice views to be had. The west side of the street (between Lafayette and Canal) has more student housing and more triple-deckers. The southern part of the area is towards Swampscott and almost entirely single-family homes with yards and stuff. We don’t have so many yards in my part. Salem’s only working farm is in that part of South Salem. Also, the university is located here.
Still with me? There’s a few more. North Salem is the part you drive in thru as you come in from 128. Nice, small suburban houses, close together, where a lot of our hippie types go to live. They have chickens and bees and stuff, and free-range kids.
The catch is that you probably can’t get a house there. Zero turnover unless people die. Several of our city parks (Mack Park, Gallows Hill, Furlong Park) are in the area so there’s plenty of outdoor places to go be active if you aren’t one of the people with a yard there. North Street splits this neighborhood into two sides – the south side has more multifamily houses and is a little denser. The north side has more and larger yards, for the most part. It’s also a great place to live if you work in Beverly. The Kernwood Bridge is a shortcut that dumps you into Ryal Side in the event the bridge isn’t open for boats. Which it always is (or at least whenever I want to cross it).
The whole area to the west of Route 107 is what we call Witchcraft Heights. It’s like Wellesley. Relatively big yards, suburban architecture, single-family homes with attached garages, and most of our Republicans. There’s a few sections to it but that’s the nutshell version. Off Highland Avenue there are a number of fairly modern condo and apartment complexes. Good options for folks who don’t want the downtown life. This also is where our big box stores live. Target, Wal-Mart, Market Basket, Shaws, and Home Depot are all on this stretch. The only other big retail area we have is Vinnin Square, which mostly is in Swampscott on the other side of town.
Downtown we have the whole “McIntyre District”. This encompasses Federal Street, Essex Street, Chestnut Street, etc. Beautiful 1700s and 1800s homes, and you can’t afford them. Neither can I. But by all means go visit, it’s beautiful. Our library is over there. You can’t park at the library because the whole area is resident sticker parking, but we all do anyway because Salem. Chestnut Street, in particular, is a great example of 1800s architecture.
Our downtown is something I spoke of in my previous Over The Bridge entry. Did you know you can live there, too? There are a handful of homes in the area, but we also have tons of condo buildings and apartment rentals downtown. There’s a nice apartment complex immediately adjacent to the new train station (Jefferson at Salem), and several large condo developments in convenient spots. You can pretty much go carless in downtown Salem. If that’s the life for you, we also have Zipcars in Salem. Just saying.
Also in my last entry, I wrote of the Salem Willows. There’s homes in that neighborhood, and the views are almost invariably amazing, but as far as turnover goes this is like North Salem only smaller. They don’t turn over at all so you can forget living here. But do come on the morning of July 4th for their Horribles Parade. It’s a Salem thing.
For other amenities here that you might like, we’ve got a municipal golf course, two city boat ramps, and a neat wooded area with trails you can go exploring in, though there’s no boulders with inscriptions on them. You might see a carving on a tree instead?
So I really do like Gloucester. It’s a pretty cool place with a lot of funky, beautiful neighborhoods. Many of my friends live there, and a lot of the clients I have in my day job are there. But my suggestion is that you all pack it in and move here to Salem. We’ve got the room for you, and we’re like 30 minutes by train closer to Boston. Just putting that out there. You will have to make sure that your car passes inspection, though. We don’t get to have Island Cars here. Dang.