Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Historic Pedicab Tours - A Great Way to Go!

Last week I experienced Salem in a whole new way - from a pedicab. Joel Carron took me along for Historic Salem Pedicab Tours' Lace Reader Tour. Now, I was a person who had seen the pedicabs peddling around town for the past few years, but has never availed myself of their services. Joel has changed my perspective, however - pedicabs are a great way to see Salem!

Historic Salem Pedicab Tours offers a few different tours - a McIntire District Tour that highlights the architectural splendor created by Salem native Samuel McIntire, historic tours customized to your wishes, and The Lace Reader tour. I climbed aboard for The Lace Reader tour in front of City Hall last week, and we were off.

Joel let us know that there are some challenges with this tour because of Salem's one-way streets. The funeral procession, for example, would be a great addition to any pedicab tour - but it traveled up and down Cambridge and Chestnut Streets the wrong way, which works great for pall bearers, but is an illegal maneuver for a pedicab. Joel did a great job improvising despite this challenge.

We traveled past The Witch House, The First Church, and the Ropes Mansion (which may be the next best thing to seeing Eva's gardens), stopping briefly to discuss the significance of the three sites. We cut down to Broad Street and Joel talked about the Broad Street Cemetery, where the Whitney's fictitious plot is located. Joel also talked about the Pickering House across the street, which was continuously occupied by 10 generations of Pickerings. The Pickering plot really is in the Broad Street Cemetery, which gave a nice touch of reality to a tour that is about a work of fiction.

Along Chestnut Street we paused to hear about some of the most significance doorways, architectural details, to ponder which house held the man who watched the procession pass by, and to talk about the significance of Hamilton Hall. We then left the Chestnut Street neighborhood and headed toward Roger Conant (and, yes, we what Beezer and Anya saw) and Salem Common. Joel talked about Eva's fictitious house and it's possible location as we headed down Orange Street toward the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, where the tall ship Friendship is located, and where Eva's boathouse would be.

The tour concluded as we passed by Pickering Wharf and headed back toward the center of Salem. It would be very easy to customize this tour to begin or end at the Salem Ferry landing, where Towner arrived in town, and the MBTA Commuter Rail station, which is close to The First Church.

The greatest thing about this tour for me was the book-club style discussion we had while we were traveling through the streets of Salem. It was a beautiful day, perfect for sight-seeing, and the speed of a pedicab is great for taking it all in. No matter how many tours of Salem I do, there is always something new to learn. The Historic Salem Pedicab Tour was no exception!

No comments: