Exploring Gloucester’s Inner Harbor by bicycle or car is a relatively easy affair. Walking will take considerably longer but is also doable – if you have the better part of the day. Begin at the Harbor Loop downtown, proceed easterly on Rogers Street and then follow East Main Street in clockwise fashion all the way to Rocky Neck, a cultural hub of the area including its many art galleries. Along the way, be prepared to explore numerous side streets offering unique perspectives: businesses, restaurants, a huge dry dock marine repair operation, warehouses, homes, wharves, marinas and other unique harbor buildings. If you don’t, you’re apt to miss the heart and soul of the harbor. From Rocky Neck especially, the view of Gloucester’s rising skyline punctuated by the occasional church spire and wind turbine is very rewarding.
The ramble along the water’s edge is tantamount to looking from the outside in. What if one wanted to reverse the vista and examine the many components of Gloucester’s Inner Harbor from the inside out, by viewing the usual scenery from the water? If a person wanted that inside-out perspective, then the Harbor Shuttle provides the best means to see the Inner Harbor on closer inspection.
The Shuttle departs from the Harbor Loop pier and circumnavigates the Inner Harbor making stops at several points along the way. Passengers wishing to get off and explore the area on foot can re-board the Shuttle on its next loop stopover. That might mean waiting an hour or so. Round trip Shuttle tickets cost $10 and are good for the day for an unlimited number rides and stopovers.
When one is out on the water of the Inner Harbor looking towards shore, everything gains added dimension and particularly detail as one might expect. The positioning of piers, wharves and buildings relative to the shore, the cluster colonies of recreational craft plying the harbor waters and moored until the next outing, the colorful buoys and markers which line the transit lines of the harbor, and the architectural lines of buildings are so much different looking from the inside out.
What makes the close inspections about the Inner Harbor truly humbling is comparing the size of the Shuttle to its larger hulled compadres. Tankers and freighters, cruise ships, fishing vessels with all their mechanical accoutrements, and the larger masted sailing craft simply dwarf the Shuttle. The latter seems like a water bug by contrast.
The Shuttle’s loop about the Inner Harbor and Smith’s Cove at Rocky Neck is not narrated but the captain and his mate are quite willing to answer any questions that might arise. The round trip takes about an hour as advertised. Depending on those who are waiting to board at various stopovers or those passengers looking to disembark, the Shuttle will put in at the various dock landings. Bring a sweatshirt, jacket or sweater as the temperature can drop when out on the open water.
The general impression of the Inner Harbor as seen from the water is how busy it is with all manner of water craft and work activities being performed by those involved in maritime pursuits. Another unmistakable observation is how closely the lives of those who live and work around and on the harbor are wed. Houses perched at all angles on the steeper slopes and hills of the harbor are fascinating. That busyness – that complexity -- is not as apparent from a walkabout along the water’s edge. There’s a lot to be said for closer inspections.
Next time you’re in the Gloucester area, schedule time for the Harbor Shuttle. An appreciation of the interlinked web of activity and life that is the Inner Harbor is bound to occur.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.