At twenty miles in length, Martha's Vineyard is the largest
offshore island in New England. With its undulating hills and
verdant pastures - in addition to its charming shoreline - the
island packs an enviable diversity into its diminutive area. The
island was inhabited by First Nation Americans during the 16th
century, though very little is known from before this time. In 1602
the English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold (who named Falmouth on
Cape Cod) sailed here and named it Martha's Vineyard, reportedly
after his daughter.
From about this time the English settlers began to develop towns
here, and before long Martha's Vineyard had become not only a
thriving fishing and whaling community, but also a fantastic summer
retreat for those on mainland Massachusetts. In 1974 the island
reached a new level of fame when Steven Spielberg filmed the
classic film "Jaws" here. Perhaps ironically, the film did a great
deal to boost tourism to Martha's Vineyard even further.