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Melville Coast
Historic District
Mystic, Connecticut is one of America's best kept secrets. The history books say nothing about it. Most people have never heard of it. Yet Mystic was one of the most important places in 1700-1900 America. The town was blessed with one of the greatest locations on the Atlantic Coast. The Mystic River flowed down out of a great forest where trees grew tall, straight and strong. The harbor faced South, and was protected by long, East-West running Fischers Island and several other islands and points, so it was not threatened by the frequent violent storms and tides from the North and East. It was a smooth, quiet haven where giant logs could be floated down river to shipyards and drydocks and used as masts and boards. More than half of all sailing ships in America from 1700-1900, whether for cargo, passengers, whaling, fishing, or naval use, were built and serviced in Mystic.Then, the era of wooden sailing ships over, Mystic fell into decline and for 100 years was forgotten. Fortunately, it has been rediscovered, restored, and is now open to the public as one of our great historical treasures. And the U.S. Submarine Force is headquartered at Groton, just around the bend.
Having been forgotten and ignored for a century proved to be wonderful, because the homes and businesses remained in place. There was no urban renewal, redevelopment, razing of blocks for parking lots, high rise condos or offices. The waterfront is a museum of 1700s and 1800s architecture. There are homes, taverns, stores, a seaman's library, and of course the docks, warehouses and shipyards. And towering over all of them are the masts, sails and riggings of the great wooden sailing ships that were the symbol of the era. If it looks vaguely familiar, it's because of the movies you're watched which were made here.You need two nights and a full day at Mystic. You won't have time to see all of it, but if you keep moving from 9 am until 5 pm, you'll see most of what the historic district has to offer, with time left to explore the 1900 era neighborhood around the drawbridge downriver. Plan on parking and walking everywhere for the few days you're here. Mystic is a very compact place, and you see more detail on foot.
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