Fun facts about the town of Provincetown…

  • By road, it is 76 miles from Provincetown to Plymouth. By boat, the distance is about 22-25 nautical miles.
  • According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Provincetown’s population is 2,642; the figure represents a 17 percent decline since 2000.
  • Including water area, the town occupies 17.5 square miles, making Provincetown comparable in size to East Bridgewater and Rockport, Massachusetts and Sanibel Island, Florida.
  • The Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact aboard the ship following their arrival in what is now Provincetown Harbor on, or about, November 11, 1620.
  • Provincetown’s town scroll bears the words “Birthplace of American Liberty.”
  • The Pilgrim Monument at 1 High Pole Hill Road was constructed in Provincetown to honor the 1620 landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims on Cape Cod; President Theodore Roosevelt laid the structure’s cornerstone in 1907, and three years later, President William Howard Taft dedicated the monument.
  • The Pilgrim Monument stands 252 feet and 7-1/2 inches; the structure features 116 stairs and 60 ramps. Climbing the tower is not for the faint of heart . . .nor the faint of height.
  • Every Thanksgiving Eve, more than 3,000 white lights strung from the top of the Pilgrim Monument are turned on to burn brightly through the New Year’s holiday. In 2013, the lights were switched on by Laurie Frottier, the widow of fisherman Jean Frottier, who was lost at sea almost one year before when his Provincetown scalloper, the Twin Lights, went down.
  • Provincetown is often identified as the number one gay community in the United States. The Provincetown Business Guild (PBG) is a non-profit organization that helps maintain that reputation by promoting Provincetown to the GLBT market worldwide.
  • Provincetown was voted “Best Gay Resort Town” by Planet Out in 2006, 2007, and 2008, and garnered the same prize from Out Traveler in November/December 2005.
  • Holiday gaiety in P’town includes the annual Holly Folly—billed as the world’s only GLBT holiday festival—which is held December 5 though 7 in 2014. Highlights include the Santa Speedo Run, Drag Bingo, the Shop Hop Raffle, and performances by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus.
  • Provincetown is considered America’s oldest arts colony. The community’s artistic roots were established in the late 1800s and early 1900s when famous American portrait and genre painter, Charles Webster Hawthorne, founded the Cape Cod School of Art.
  • The Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) celebrates its 100th birthday in 2014 with such exhibits as “PAAM 100: A Century of Inspiration,” which honors the organization’s multi-talented member artists.
  • Notable residents over the years have included playwright Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire) and Norman Mailer (Writer of two Pulitzer-Prize winning books, The Executioner’s Song and Armies of the Night). Other famous artists and writers with connections to the town include John Dos Passos, Mark Rothko, and Jack Kerouac.
  • Author of Desire Under the Elms, Long Days’ Journey Into Night, and Beyond the Horizon, famed American playwright, Eugene O’Neill (1883-1953), was living in Provincetown when he was notified he had won a Pulitzer Prize. O’Neill spent several years living and working in Provincetown.
  • The Berta Walker Gallery has been showcasing Provincetown’s historic arts movement for decades. Walker—whose grandparents hung out with Provincetown resident and famed playwright, Eugene O’Neill, in the early 1900s and whose gallery continues to represent several students of former P’town greats like Hans Hofmann and Henry Hensche—is the grande dame of the town’s art world.
  • Built of wash-a-shore lumber and driftwood in the 1920s by fishermen and artists seeking creative solitude, Provincetown’s dune shacks have been managed by the National Park Service since the 1990s. Those interested in a rustic retreat can apply to live in the shacks.
    The 10th annual Providence Jazz Festival is held in August at town hall. This year’s lineup includes Dave Vannatter, Kathy Kosins, and the Cape Cod Jazz Quintet.
  • Donald MacMillan of Provincetown traveled with Admiral Peary on an expedition to the Arctic in 1908. Over the years, MacMillan became an expert of the region, and in 1927 he founded a school for Eskimo boys in the Canadian province of Labrador.
  • On December 17, 1927, the submarine U.S.S. S4 sunk off the coast of Wood End Light after surfacing and colliding with a former U.S. Navy destroyer on loan to the Coast Guard to help search for booze runners during Prohibition; the submarine’s entire crew of 40 perished.
  • In 1931, a summer home that writer Eugene O’Neill owned at Peaked Hill on the dunes was washed into the sea.
  • Provincetown High’s baseball team defeated Mashpee, 7-6, in an MIAA playoff game in 2005; at the time, Provincetown High had about 100 students in grades 7-12, while Mashpee’s student body was more than 1,000.
  • After the eight members of the Class of 2013 (all girls) graduated in June of 2013, Provincetown High School closed its doors due to declining numbers; the town’s students now attend Nauset Regional in Eastham, or Cape Cod Regional Technical in Harwich.
  • Since 1975 when well-known Cape scientist Stormy Mayo of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies teamed up with a local charter boat captain to create the Dolphin Fleet, thousands have enjoyed whale-watching cruises off Provincetown from April through October, to watch fin, humpback, and right whales frolic.
  • Founded in 1980, the annual Pan-Mass Challenge—which includes a two-day bike race from Sturbridge and through 36 other Massachusetts towns—has a Provincetown finish line. The PMC raises more funds than any other athletic fundraiser in the country, and in 2013, tallied $39 million for cancer research.
  • The Whydah Pirate Shipwreck Museum at Macmillan Wharf displays gold, silver, cannons, and personal belongings retrieved from the ship pirated by ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy, which wrecked off the coast of Wellfleet in 1717.
  • A trip on the Plymouth-to-Provincetown Ferry takes about 90 minutes and costs $43 for an adult, round-trip ticket.
  • Provincetown is one of just two Cape towns that does not have a Dunkin’ Donuts.
  • At The Purple Feather Café and Treatery, delicacies include Sweet & Salty Pretzels, Chocolate Bacon, Almond Butter Crunch Pretzels, and Chocolate Covered S’mores.
  • At The Mews Restaurant and Cafe on Commercial Street, diners can savor more than 250 different kinds of vodka—it is rumored more vodkas are served here than at any other watering hole on the East Coast.
  • The region’s Portuguese heritage continues to add spice to this quintessential American melting pot community; tourists make special trips to P’town for the sweet treats at the Provincetown Portuguese Bakery, including the tasty malasada, a Portuguese-style donut.
  • Skully-jo was once considered a delicacy in Provincetown. The hard snack, which also has Portuguese roots, consists of split, salted, and dried haddock; it is said children would carry the treat in their pockets and chew on it throughout the day.
  • In 2010, P’town was named the most ‘dog friendly town’ in the country by Dog Friendly magazine. Out of 2,997 residents surveyed by the magazine, more than 500 had canines. Businesses in Provincetown frequently allow dogs to shop along with their owners and biscuits and bowls of water sometimes welcome dogs at shops and restaurants.
  • One Cape Cod LIFE staffer recalls a time when her neighbors, Joe and Anthony took their dog, Hutch, to P’town for lunch and ordered their happy pup his own hamburger.
  • The ZIP code 02657 in Provincetown reportedly has the highest concentration of same-sex households of any in the country.

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Provincetown and its Monument

Provincetown and its Monument