Hingham Harbor waters are protected from the weather by the hills of World’s End and Crow Point creating an attractive setting for Settlers from England beginning in 1633 at what was then known as Bare Cove. The Town of Hingham was incorporated in 1635. In that year there was a drawing for house lots, with early settlements extending from the harbor along Town Brook on the Town Street, now North and South Streets and to Broad Cove Lane, now Lincoln Street. Through the years the harbor area has emerged through periods of exploration, manufacturing and trade, industry, commerce, and now, recreation.
Wooden sailing ships were built at inner harbor shipyards in the 17th through 19th century using expertise and resources found throughout the town of Hingham. The Hingham fishing industry began in earnest about 1750 when Captain Francis Barker created the first shipyard at the harbor, at the foot of Ship Street. Fishing companies were soon formed. In the 19th century, mackerel was the primary fish sought by Hingham fishing schooners. 450 men were directly employed. The industry also supported local work in ship building and outfitting, sail, mast and spar, pump and block, and cordage production, in barrel coopering, and at salt works. In the 19th century Hingham’s inner harbor was transformed into a place for steamship wharves, and industrial uses such as a coal wharf, and an iron foundry.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, steamboat wharves became part of Hingham’s busy Inner Harbor. The steamboat EAGLE, transiting between Hingham and Boston, began with seasonal service between 1818 and 1821. The ship could accommodate 200 passengers to/from Boston initially for about a 2-hour passage. Later ships, such as the GENERAL LINCOLN, shortened the trip to about 1 1/4 hours.
The 20th century then brought highway oriented commerce to the harbor.including car dealerships and gas stations.
Today the Harbor is a place for recreation. The Town of Hingham owns 13.7 acres of park with scenic views of Hingham Harbor. There are three parking lots, one of which seasonally accommodates an open-air farmers’ market. The parks have a boat ramp, a mooring area and a bathing beach with a seasonal bath house and rest rooms. There’s a bandstand for entertainment and an open field for play. For light dining there’s a coffee shop and a seasonal snack bar as well as a grove with a picnic area and nearby restaurants.
Adjoining the bathing beach area, there is a launch ramp for boats and a dredged basin for mooring pleasure craft. The Iron Horse statue, also Known as the “Victory” statue, was installed in 1929 to honor townsmen who had served in the Armed Forces. Nearby Whitney Wharf was long used for commercial shipping. The site of a car dealership before being acquired in a land swap in 1989, it was then structurally restored and landscaped. The POW-MIA Veteran’s Park lies east of Whitney Wharf. The site, purchased by the town in 2009, further enhanced harbor views and access. The site also has a number of plantings, including linden trees along the parking lot edge. A bench that affords a view of the water bears a memorial designation.