Ghosts of Blubber Hollow

Along the North River in Salem, in front of Gallows Hill, is the ancient neighborhood of Blubber Hollow, named for the rendering of whales in that area in the mid-


17th century. By the mid-19th century Blubber Hollow was the center of the Leather Industry in America, filled at its peak with dozens of tanneries. In the 2nd half of the 20th century the industry collapsed, tanneries abandoned. Now in the 21st century all that is left are forlorn empty lots and spectacular ruins, as these photos attest.



For decades now plans have been afoot to demolish these derelict buildings and replace them with sprightly apartments and thriving businesses. Alas, apart from one new apartment building on Goodhue St, and the settling of a medical marijuana outlet on Grove St, nothing has become of these plans. The buildings rust and molder, visited only by daring urban spelunkers and lived in only by addled homeless with nowhere else to go.

The problem, as this blogger sees it, is the old bugaboo of density. Nearby residents refuse any building big enough to justify clearing the brownfield sites, but small buildings cannot economically justify clearing the brownfield sites. And there the matter lies. Unless and until residents accept density, the only long-term residents will be rats.