The Islands (Massachusetts)

The Islands is the collective name for the set of large islands south of Cape Cod in the southeast corner of the U.S. state of Massachusetts: Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, the Elizabeth Islands, and a small number of minor islands. The Islands are the location of numerous beach resorts, celebrity second homes, and preserved buildings dating back to the whaling era.

Cape Cod Bay map
The Massachusetts coastline, showing the Islands at the southern end.


Nantucket Island (together with the two smaller islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget) constitutes the town of Nantucket; the Elizabeth Islands constitute the town of Gosnold; and Martha's Vineyard contains the towns of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury (including Vineyard Haven), West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah. They are separated from Cape Cod by Nantucket Sound and Vineyard Sound, and from the South Coast by Buzzards Bay.


The disputed territory of the Islands came under absolute British control following the English acquisition of the former Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. The Islands were established as Dukes County, New York in 1683, and then in 1691 they were transferred from New York to Massachusetts and then separated into two counties: Nantucket County (consisting of Nantucket alone) and Dukes County, containing all the other islands.

Originally the home of indigenous Wampanoag, the area was otherwise inhabited by only a few landlords and seafaring families until a brief golden era when local population and wealth grew immensely as a result of the Islands being the home of many commercial whalers and their crews, due to demand for blubber for use in oil lamps. The whale oil market became obsolete following the development of modern petroleum extraction, with dire consequences for local sailors and merchants, until the area was discovered as a summer colony, first by wealthy visitors from mainland New England and later from around the country and beyond. Much of the isolated rural culture of the Islands has been preserved from new construction, partly because they can be easily accessed only by ferry or aircraft due to their separation from the rest of the state by Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound.

Although the arrival of large numbers of people as well as new homes, retailers, and restaurants has led to rising costs for many long-time residents, the unique local lifestyle is still visible in part by an occasionally emerging secession movement of variable strength.


Attractions on the Islands include Flying Horses Carousel, Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, Polly Hill Arboretum, and Troubled Shores supplemented by ample opportunities for cycling, equestrianism, fishing, sailing, and some of the finest whale watching in the world.

People associated with the Islands

The Islands have been a part of the lives of many noted personalities, including Mary Morrill, Mayhew Folger, Lucretia Mott, Rowland Hussey Macy, Walter Cronkite, William Styron, William Labov, Ted Kennedy, David McCullough, and Carly Simon.

Cape Wind

The Cape Wind Project was a proposed offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States. It was approved but then lost several key contracts and suffered from several licensing and legislative setbacks. The developer, Jim Gordon of Energy Management Inc, eventually terminated the lease rights for the site in late 2017.The wind farm, an offshore wind energy project in United States coastal waters, was projected to generate 1,500 gigawatt hours of electricity per year derived from wind power. National Grid and Northeast Utilities eventually terminated their power purchase agreements in January 2015, making it difficult to obtain financing necessary for the project to progress.The project was expected to cost $2.6 billion. Cape Wind had arranged to borrow $2 billion through The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU). Siemens has agreed to supply the turbines for the project. Additionally, some construction began in 2013, thus qualifying the project for the federal production tax credit, which expired at the end of the year.

Edward Maria Wingfield

Edward Maria Wingfield, sometimes hyphenated as Edward-Maria Wingfield (1550 in Stonely Priory, near Kimbolton – 1631) was a soldier, Member of Parliament, (1593) and English colonist in America. He was the son of Thomas Maria Wingfield, and the grandson of Richard Wingfield.

Captain John Smith wrote that from 1602 to 1603 Wingfield was one of the early and prime movers and organisers in "showing great charge and industry" in getting the Virginia Venture moving: he was one of the four incorporators for the London Virginia Company in the Virginia Charter of 1606 and one of its biggest financial backers. He recruited (with his cousin, Captain Bartholomew Gosnold) about forty of the 104 would-be colonists, and was the only shareholder to sail. In the first election in the New World, he was elected by his peers as the President of the governing council for one year beginning 13 May 1607, of what became the first successful, English-speaking colony in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia.

After four months, on 10 September, because "he ever held the men to working, watching and warding", and because of lack of food, death from disease and attack by the "naturals" (during the worst famine and drought for 800 years), Wingfield was made a scapegoat and was deposed on petty charges. On the return of the Supply Boat on 10 April 1608, Wingfield was sent back to London to answer the charge of being an atheist, and one suspected of having Spanish sympathies. Smith's prime biographer, Philip L. Barbour, however, wrote of the "superlative pettiness of the charges... none of the accusations amounting to anything." Wingfield cleared his reputation, was named in the Second Virginia Charter, 1609, and was active in the Virginia Company until 1620, when he was 70 years old.He died in England in 1631, ten weeks before fellow Jamestown settler John Smith, and was buried on 13 April at St Andrew's Parish Church, Kimbolton.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.