Latitude / Longitude:
42°38’20 N 70°39’15 W
Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
Dogtown (also Dogtown Commons or Dogtown Common or Dogtown Village) is an abandoned inland settlement on Cape Ann in Massachusetts.
Once known as the Common Settlement, the area later known as Dogtown is divided between the city of Gloucester and the town of Rockport. Dogtown was first settled in 1693, and according to legend the name of the settlement came from dogs that women kept while their husbands were fighting in the American Revolution. The community grew to be 5-square-miles, and was an ideal location as it provided protection from pirates, and enemy natives. By the early 1700s, the land was opened up to individual settlement as previously it had been used as common land for wood and pasturing cattle and sheep. It is estimated that at one point 60 to 80 homes stood in Dogtown at the peak height of its population. In the mid-1700s as many as 100 families inhabited Dogtown which was stable until after the American Revolution.
After its abandonment, Dogtown was a mostly cleared open field with abundant boulders around. Nearby residents looked towards this land as a way to graze their farm animals. These animals were kept in private lots into the 1920s when the last of the plots were abandoned. In the decades that followed what was once open land eventually became a dense forest.
Various factors led to the demise of Dogtown which included a revived fishing industry from Gloucester Harbor after the American Revolution had ended. The area had become safe again from enemy ships which allowed cargo to move in and out of the new fishing port. The success gave way to International shipping which included timber, and quarried rock. New coastal roads were built that also contributed to the Dog Town’s demise as they ran past the town to Gloucester which at the time was booming. Most of the farmers in the town moved away by the end of the War of 1812 as Dogtown had become a risk for coastal bombardment. Dogtown eventually became an embarrassment with its dwindled reputation, and some of its last occupants were suspected of practicing witchcraft.