To the southwest of Downtown Salem, less than a mile distant from the former colonial-era jail and courthouse, lies Gallows Hill. Like most hills around Massachusetts Bay, it is a large drumlin formed by glacial deposits in the last ice age. It is an unremarkable hill, made famous only by the notorious witchcraft trials of 1692.
For it was this hill, a prominent overlook on the main road between Salem and Boston, which was chosen as the site to hang 19 innocents, 14 women and 5 men, convicted of witchcraft. At the time the area was farmland and pastureland, outside of the town settled besides the harbor. Today it is a longstanding neighborhood in the city of Salem, the actual hanging site neglected but never actually lost to memory, its identity resurrected in 2016 by 21st century researchers. The name for the hill, apparently first recorded by Nathaniel Hawthorne in a short story written early in his career, is a wry misnomer, for no gallows was ever actually located there.
Today Gallows Hill is a vibrant neighborhood, with a history stretching back centuries independent of the witchcraft hysteria. The history, culture, businesses, development, crime, events, people and characters of that neighborhood will be the subject of this venture into blogging.