Town Meeting & Budget
On September 6, 1638, Secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Simon
Bradstreet, received an agreement from Governor Winthrop and the General
Court giving him and eleven other men the right to begin a plantation north
of the Merrimack River. This land grant included the towns of Amesbury and
Merrimack, Massachusetts as well as the New Hampshire towns of Seabrook,
South Hampton, Newton, Hampstead, Plaistow and Kingston.
This town, bordered by the Merrimack River and the Atlantic Ocean,
originally named Colchester, was incorporated as Salisbury in 1640.
Salisbury grew over time based on upland farms, salt marsh estuaries, building
boats along the river, and its position on a major overland trade route to the
north. When railroads were introduced, the line followed earlier routes from
Newburyport heading to Portsmouth, aided by the low, gentle landscape that
generally lacks steep hillsides or rocky terrain. With railroads, growing
wealth and leisure time, and an emerging middle class, Salisbury's unbroken
sandy beachfront beckoned to vacationers, establishing an economic engine that
remains important and provides image and identity to the Town.
In the nineteenth century the oceanfront became an object of interest to
people who were beginning to shed their earlier, close ties to the land.
Tourism and recreation at the beach soon became a prominent feature and the
beach district saw the arrival of hotels, amusements and retailing, which
continue to operate today. The Beach district has held onto its carefree resort
character into the present, where the emphasis is focused on the ocean, amusements and relaxation.
The modern Salisbury is highly diverse geographically, encompassing
square sixteen miles of farms, beach, marshlands
and both residential and commercial space. As of the year 2000,
nearly 90 percent of this area, or 9,200 acres, was in various types of open space.
Nearly forty percent is forested, while more than a third is wetland and estuary.
Ten percent is in open and
agricultural land, and four percent is recreational.
The Great Marsh and estuaries of the Merrimack River make up the largest
linked bodies of open land.
The Town includes four distinctly different areas:
Salisbury Beach, a barrier beach with miles of beautiful sandy Atlantic Ocean beaches
and salt marshes surrounding dense residential and commercial beachfront development,
Salisbury Plains, featuring farms and suburban homes set in fields and rolling woodlands,
Salisbury Square, a colonial village center with churches, municipal buildings and
village residences, and Ring's Island, once a colonial fishing village facing Newburyport on the Merrimack
River and now supporting a neighborhood of restored antique homes and riverfront marine businesses.
Points of interest include:
Active community groups and cooperation between town officials and
townspeople make Salisbury a fine place to live, locate a business or spend