Growing up on Cape Cod, I always heard the news- and weather- men refer to where I lived as "Cape Cod and the islands". It wasn't until well into adulthood that I ever visited "the islands". In fact, I never made it to Martha's Vineyard, for a real visit, until four years ago and this year we returned.
When I first arrived on Martha's Vineyard four years ago, I was in shock and feeling liberated all at the same time. I had been part of a "reduction in force" in 2009 at the bank I worked at on Wall Street. It's amazing that in just moments your life and energies can be redirected. Martha's Vineyard was a good place to start the re-creation process and return to my photographic journey. I have yearned to return to this special island ever since, and this past week we did.
Oak Bluffs is where we landed the last time and that was our destination on this trip too. The Dockside Inn has changed hands since we were last there and the new owners are obviously taking tender loving care of this wonderful waterfront property. One of the owners is a fourth generation local, full of enthusiasm and boundless energy. He sparked an interest in the history of Oak Bluffs in me and this is some of what I learned.
Originally, Cottage City (Oak Bluff's prior name) seceded from Edgartown in 1880 and changed it's name to Oak Bluffs in 1907, acknowledging it's growth from simply a cottage community. It was in 1866 that "a group of investors formed the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company and purchased approximately seventy-five acres of land ... The Company engaged Robert Morris Copeland, a Boston landscape gardener, to prepare plans of a residential summer community. Copeland created a subdivision plan entitled, 'Oak Bluffs,' in which he laid out the property in small lots and curved avenues. He also designated eight areas on his plans as 'parks.' ... Vineyard historians claim that Oak Bluffs was the first planned residential community constructed in the United States, noting that it preceded Frederick Law Olmstead's 'Riverside' in Chicago by three years."¹ The Vineyard Gazette has noted that Copeland was "a landscape architect inspired by Frederick Law Olmsted", one of the designers of New York City's Central Park.
Whatever its history, the town of Oak Bluffs, our favorite on the island, is delightful sitting upon the bluffs overlooking the Sound with its large parks and charming architecture. It's eminently livable and the Dockside Inn couldn't be more convenient -in walking distance to the ferries, the harbor, Circuit Avenue, and lots of wonderful restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Our favorite restaurant on this trip was Fishbone's, a restaurant we could see from our bedroom window and located right on the harbor dock. The Lookout, our second favorite restaurant, is just a short walk up the dirt alleyway next to the Inn, heading East to the Bluffs overlooking the Sound. Whether it was raw local oysters from Katama, shark bites, sashimi, lobster rolls or even fried chicken - we never had a bad meal on this island.
Photos and Slide Show © 2013 Claudia Ward
Music: Anticipation by Paul Breiner & Don Gillis
¹The Martha's Vineyard Times 2008