Nestled inside a curling spit of sand at the furthest section of Cape Cod, Provincetown Harbor supports a profound natural port and charming scenery that has fascinated settlers, fishermen, tourists and residents for decades. The harbor has experienced an ever-changing economy during its transition from a major fishing and commercial port lined with numerous piers and wharves to a Mecca for tourism, now the leading industry in Provincetown.
The West End of town is closer to the beaches, while the East End is known for its many art galleries. Fine Restaurants are located throughout the town, while discos and bars tend to be located in its center. The community is home to numerous Bed & Breakfast establishments and quaint seaside inns. The downtown area is home to numerous shops, restaurants and historic sites. The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum is also located downtown just off the King's Highway.
Provincetown has become a well-known center for coastal studies and a colony of fine art. The area is home to the Provincetown International Art Institute, which offers a curriculum of collegiate credit courses in the visual arts and a nonprofit environment organization that performs research and education in the coastal and marine ecosystems.
The Provincetown Art Association and Museum, founded in 1914, displays the works of Hawthorne (founder of the Cape Cod School of Art in 1899), Henry Hensche (founder of the Cape School of Art in 1935), Hans Hofmann, Edward Hopper and Robert Motherwell in its collection, as well as many contemporary artists. Writers and artists from around the world are drawn to Provincetown's Fine Arts Work Center, adding to the winter population and the growth of the economy.
Students in the community are served by the Provincetown School District that includes a high school and elementary school.
Most the area on the Peninsula is dedicated to the Cape Cod National Seashore, comprised of 43,604 acres of shoreline and upland landscape features including a forty-mile long stretch of pristine sandy beach, dozens of clear, deep, freshwater kettle ponds, and upland scenes that depict evidence of how people have used the land. A variety of historic structures are within the boundary of the Seashore including lighthouses and numerous Cape Cod-style houses. The Seashore offers six swimming beaches, eleven self-guiding nature trails, and a variety of picnic areas and scenic overlooks.
Whales played an important part in Provincetown's economy in the 19th century and this tradition is carried on today as thousands of whale watchers depart from Provincetown each year to observe, rather than kill, these now endangered mammals in their natural habitat. Fin and humpbacks are regularly seen from April to October, and scientists have discovered that Cape Cod Bay is an important breeding ground for the extremely rare North Atlantic right whale.
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