The map is not the territory …

Though often appropriated by others, this metaphor was the phraseology used by Alfred Korzybski in his work "Science and Sanity" --- a thesis that frames the Polish-American philosopher's second principle of general semantics (link without). Korzybski sensed that no map can represent all of the territory, any more than a word can fully represent an object, stressing that any expressed abstraction (whether derived from something or in reaction to it) is only an impression, which cannot full relate (to) the "thing" itself. As a scientist, Korzibski maintained that to properly use words and "maps" (in a physical and/or metaphysical sense) we must submit them to constant, rigorous examination to keep them accurate and current.

Alfred Korzybski distinguished himself with his system of general semantics in 1933 when publishing "Science and Sanity" (which can be previewed on at this link without). Since then, numerous authors have expanded upon his theories, to a lesser and greater extent. In that original treatise, Korzybski made the simple statement that, "A map is not the territory it represents, but if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness." Korzybski's theory on semantics remains extant as we "map out" where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.

The image of the map of the "historic wayes to the Waterside" is taken from digitized photograph of the stained glass insert on the way marker aside Market Landing. That marker's map to be updated to indicate reference to Somerby's Landing --- the name officially restored to the westernmost "waye" at the foot of Green Street a decade ago, in May of 2003.

A ceremony to rededicate the newly laid historic wayes and the restored boardwalk named for former Mayor Peter Matthews was held on May 18, 2003 ~ with another when with the small tall ship Misty Isles came home that summer --- docking at the Waterside by Ferry Wharf (the historic waye down along from Somerby's Landing and the embayment area near Market Landing Park). Today's generations of the Waterside people were to come full circle, in anticipation of the generational milestone in 2004. A decade later, with the Waterside community of Newburyport's landmark milestone in sight, the peradventure continues ...

Stipulated as historical fact ...

The "historic wayes to the Waterside" are laid out in the approximate location of various wharves that had once extended to the low water mark along the Merrimack River. From the mid-1600's through the 1800's, various commercial buildings, stores and warehouses were constructed on these wharves, and spaces between these edifices providing ways to the water.

[In the post Civil War Era, seaport activities in Newburyport had come to an end. In 1869, state legislation permitted the Newburyport City Railroad to be constructed and the flats along the waterfront were partially filled to accommodate the railroad bed. Further grading took place during the city's urban renewal in the 1960's and 70's.]

While there are five "historic wayes" now held in public trust1 in the downtown waterfront area, there were actually eleven ways identified in the suit prompted by the discontinuance of these ways in 1972 during the city's urban renewal plan for waterfront development. The historical facts recorded in town meetings (and reiterated committee reports dated 1764, 1805 and 1872 and other record) were stipulated by the litigants as follows.

Way 1 ~ "Somerby's Landing"

On July 12, 1751, the proprietors of Newbury voted "that the landing in Newbury called … Somerbys landing Place (is) now … Voted to the towns use & to lay so wide as (it is) now unsold & the same to lay for ways & landing, for ever & no more of said ways to be sold or be use (sic) any other ways But as is in this vote expressed."

On March 10, 1752, the town meeting of Newbury received the following communication: "(A) The proprietors of this Town at their last meeting voted to Grant the Landing at … Somerbys so called to Lay for Publick ways and landings for the town's use - We have laid out the same for the uses …" The town meeting accepted the ways and ordered that they be recorded.

On July 10, 1781, the town meeting voted to request the selectmen "to Lay down for a Landing or private way for the use of the Town, all the Land and flatts in Somerby's Landing so called, to the Eastward of a line of the Westerly side thereof, agreeable to a plan of the Westerly side of said Landing, presented to and accepted by the Town, which was Taken by order of the Select Men of the 3 Instant.

The warrant for the March 14, 1782, town meeting indicates that one of the orders of business was "to accept of the laying out of Somerby Landing, so called, as a private way or landing by the selectmen." To what action, if any, was taken at that meeting is not disclosed on the present record.


Ways 3/4 ~ "Central Wharf"

A "Generall Meeting of the Towne" on January 5, 1679, voted and granted that one Greenleaf and one Davison "should have ... a place for to build a wharf" on a parcel of land stretching from the high to low water mark of the approximate location of way 3, "provided the Inhabitants of the Towne shall have liberty from time to time to land wood and Hay or other goods so that the said goods ly not above four and twenty hours neither at any time to do them damage." On March 1, 1680, "[a]t a legal meeting of the freemen in Town" Benjamin Rolfe, Dr. Dole and Richard Dole "proposed ... to build a wharfe & a place to build vessels" on a parcel of land stretching from high to low water mark at the approximate location of Way 4. This proposition was "voted and granted" upon the condition, among others, that "the Inhabitants of the Towne shall have free liberty to land goods upon it with pay so that they do not damnify the owners."

On May 11, 1771, the selectmen voted to lay out a "Town Way of Landing leading from Merrimack Street to the Channel of Merrimack River" on "all the Land or Flatts" between certain lands at the location of ways 3 and 4 (Central Wharf). On March 2, 1772, the town meeting voted to accept this action.

On September 16, 1833, the town meting voted to grant "permission ... to the Proprietors of Central Wharf to improve and streighten (sic) the entrance to said Wharf as a public highway at their expense" and voted that the selectmen be a committee to lay out the way. In 1834 the selectmen reported that they had "laid out and straightened the entrance to Central Wharf as a public highway for the use of the inhabitants of said town." The owners of the wharf declared that they would no longer claim the land over which the way had been laid out; it is apparent that that declaration applied only to the entrance to Central Wharf and not to the wharf itself.


Ways 5/6 ~ "Market Landing" originally "Middle Shipyard"

Central Wharf and Railroad Avenue flank the place called Market Landing Park. Market Landing (originally the Middle Shipyard) was "left by the first settlers … and occupied by the inhabitants from 1635 to 1726, by those who chose to use it as a landing place. During this period the town let out the landing --- but on April 26, 1726, the proprietors chose a committee to let the landing out, which they did until about 1760, apparently without objection by the town. On May 11, 1771, the selectmen voted to lay out "a Town Way or Landing leading from Merrimack (note that early records spelled the street with a "k") Street to the channel of Merrimack River," apparently covering all of Market Landing. On March 2, 1772, the town meeting voted to accept that action.

On October 20, 1774, the town meeting chose a committee to make a plan of this way and to ascertain the bounds with precision. In the late 1790's the proprietors and the town entered into extended litigation concerning which had title to the Market Landing and certain other lands in Newburyport outside the locus. The dispute was ultimately resolved when on October 28, 1826, the proprietors of the common and undivided lands in Newburyport (and Newbury and West Newbury) in return for $1200, conveyed to the town of Newburyport "all the … title … of said Freeholders and Proprietors in and to all their common and undivided lands situate in said Newburyport … subject however to the following exceptions and reservations, that is to say that one and one half rod wide laid out on the Easterly side of the Middle Shipyard or Market Landing so called from Merrimack (sic) Street to the River (now called Railroad Avenue or Market Landing Way) shall be kept open and not incumbered (sic) with any building forever." In 1861, the city extended Market Landing 100 rods toward the Merrimack River and widened it.

Railroad Avenue

This "historic waye to the Waterside" east of what was the Middle Shipyard (also called Market Landing) has a lengthy accounting of historical fact stipulated in the aforementioned suit. Corroboration by historical record is presently underway. Recent access to those 17th and 18th century town meetings confirm the original terms (bounds) and term used for this landing, considered "left by the first settlers … and occupied by the inhabitants from 1635 to 1726, by those who chose to use it as a landing place."

However, at this stage of the research, exactly who had originated the (less than original) alias "Railroad Avenue"--- and exactly when or if the reference was formally adopted --- remains unclear. Obviously, because the Newburyport City Railroad terminated at this very point along the waterfront just east of the Market Landing embayment area, the name was considered appropriate. According to oral history, however, this reference simply did not become part of the vernacular.2

Regarding stipulated fact during litigation: With Statute 1869, Chapter 398, Section 2, the state legislature authorized the Newburyport City Railroad Company to construct and operate a railroad from a convenient point on the Newburyport or Eastern Railroad "to come to a convenient point, within the limits of Newburyport, upon the shore of Merrimac (sic) River, at tide-water." Section 8 of that act provided that "(t)he location of the tracks through the streets of Newburyport … shall be determined by the mayor and the aldermen …" Referring also the Statute 1870, Chapter 357 --- the construction of the railroad introduced major filling of the entire waterfront, especially east of Market Landing and including Market Landing itself --- Later in this period, with Statute 1873, chapter 136, the state legislature authorized the city of Newburyport to discontinue all the common landing places."


Way 8 ~ "Ferry Wharf Way"

At some point in time, Ferry Wharf Way will be distinguished as the last of the five "historic wayes to the Water(side)" to be relaid in fulfillment of the public trust. Until then, Ferry Way retains its significant place in local history, and has an association as the possible location for one of the Waterside's first man-made structures known as Watts his sellar or Watts Cellar ~ a locus often referenced in the earliest of recorded deeds for the properties in its vicinity.

On September 30, 1678 a committee appointed by town meeting "laid out to ... (Richard Dole)" certain land "with the flatts adjoyning there too excepting two Rod in Breadth upon the Easterly poynt of upland which is to ly for a perpetual way for the town use to the Dock for to unload Hay, Wood, Timber, Boards or anything else which is produced in or upon the River, it being not imported from or exported to the sea." The committee and Dole "agreed that the said Dole is to set a wharf against the two Rod it is apoynted for a way for the Towns use as is above expressed."

[Note: a rod is equal to 5.5 yards, or 16.5 feet (5.029 meters).]

In 1687 Sir Edmund Andros (then governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony) granted a patent to Captain John March for a "new Ferry across the Merrimack … from Newbury to Rings Point in Salisbury." This ferry, which the town of Newbury purchased from March in 1705, apparently operated throughout its existence from the foot of the way reserved for the town in the grant of Richard Dole, as cited in Currier's "Ould Newbury" page 157, and Coffin's "History of Newbury, West Newbury and Newburyport," page 148.

On February 23, 1720, the proprietors voted that the "select men are to lay out a way of two Rods broad as reserved in Mr. Dols grant downe to ye Dock." There is no further indication in the record of action by the town with respect to the way until March 10, 1724, when the following agreement was executed; "[W]here as there has been considerable difference about ye place where the way should be layed, to ye Dock called Doles-Dock formerly reserved for ye Towns use, we Richard Kent (successor in title to Richard Dole) & Benjamin Woodbridge (successor in title to Paul White and Thomas Woodbridge) ... and the selectmen of ... of Newbury mutually agree and consent that ye said way shall be layed out in form and manner following viz. the said Kent agrees forthwith, to remove ye frame lately erected ... fourteen feet right on end westward from said Woodbridges his wharf, and said way is to run on a strait line --- front said Kents now house dwelling .... and on ye same line three rods into said Dock, from ye middle of said frame, toward the River ..."

In 1764, shortly after the incorporation of Newburyport, the town meeting chose a committee "to examine the town ways and landings." This committee reported with respect to the "way down to the ferry which is not properly a highway, nor a landing as it appears to us, but an agreement formerly made in the year 1722, [between] Col. Kent and Mr. Woodbridge and the selectmen of the town, we find it as they have recorded it, as to width but think it of no use to the town as it lies, since by that agreement the town have no right to go further that three rods into the dock which will not carry them to low water mark. But with submission would recommend to the town to order the selectmen to lay it down as wide as it is now, and let it go to the river, by which means it may hereafter be of some service to the town, but as it now is we esteem it to be none." Whether the town meeting took any action on this recommendation does not appear in the record.

On September 12, 1818, the selectmen informed the town that they had "Laid out for the use of the town ... a town way, running from Water Street to the ferryways." Their description of the way indicated it went to the low water mark. On September 14, 1818, the town meeting voted to approve "the doings of the Selectmen in laying out a highway between Water Street and the ferryways & do accept the same as a public highway." A portion of the easterly side of this way was discontinued on March 16, 1825.


Way 11 ~ "Custom House Way and Landing"

"At a Legall Meeting of the Towne and freemen March 1st 1679 Nathaniel Clark proposed for a parcell of flatts uppon the southeast side of Capt. Whites grant ... about three rods broad at Highwater Mark and so to Low Water Mark. This proposition was voted and granted by the Inhabitants of the Towne shall have free liberty to land goods uppon it provide they do not damnify the owner of sd. wharfe ..." A later entry in the proprietors' records states, "According to the town grant above said we have laid out unto Nathaniel Clark a parcel of land for him to build a wharff by Merrimack River;" this parcel was described as stretching approximately from high water to low water and lying immediately to the east of the grant to Captain White. The 1805 report of a committee appointed by the town meeting to study the situation of the landings indicates that a "landing" on the upper side of the Custom House was laid out in 1722 and was twenty feet wide at Water Street and thirty feet wide at the low water mark.


"The Historic Wayes to 'the Waterside' "

As is known, Newburyport was actually once part of the town of Newbury, which was settled in 1635. In 1725, Newbury formally established its Third Parish with the bounds that eventually incorporated as the town Newburyport in 1764. The Third Parish was also called "ye Waterside Parish" and the doors of its meetinghouse literally opened onto the Middle Shipyard --- what is now the approximate location of the Firehouse and the presently filled tideland area called Market Landing Park.

The terms Waterside and the Waterside and the Waterside people were used in the petition for separation from Newbury which the Waterside Memorialists presented to the colonial General Court in 1763. However, these were terms long established to reference the place and inhabitants settling New Towne, which was laid out in 1644.

Although the proprietor's book of Newbury records the river "lotts" of New Towne with a single oblique reference as such --- earliest deeds most often refer to the Waterside, often capitalized, and with the syllables frequently separated into two words. The article "the" was used consistently, rarely (if ever) omitted in script or spoken reference.

In the oldest of records at the Registry of Deeds, conveyances of patents repetitively used verbiage such as that identified on page 159 of Currier's "Ould Newbury, Historical and Biographical Sketches" for a river lot on Water Street:

"house, warehouse, land and flats bounded south by the country road, west by … a town way to the Water side between the lots, north by the Merrimack River, east by … a highway between the lots"

During research for the City of Newburyport's Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2001 --- a link to a now defunct website for Newbury, England offered an online map which cited a Newbury locale as "the Waterside" --- situated on the Kennet and Avon Canal in this Berkshire County township along the River Kennet. Howbeit, over the ensuing decade, the article ("the"( is no longer appended to the scant references to "Waterside" in Newbury, UK (e.g., Waterside Youth & Community Centre, Waterside series canoe races). Seek more information at these links without: (reserved)

Note that Newbury, England is the town for which Newbury --- and therefore Newburyport --- was named. Newbury's earliest early settlers were not direct transplants from that England borough however, and Reverend Parker was only "sometimes of Newbury, England." T
he Newburyport City Arms and Seal adopted in 1851 depicts the seal of Newbury, England in the lower (sinister) quadrant and also a scroll with the words "Terra Marique" which translated from the Latin is "The Waterside." Along the banks of the Merrimack River, in a Motion of Comity.

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears; soft stillness, and the night,
Become the touches of sweet harmony …
Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold.
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings …
Such harmony is in immortal souls …

(from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice)




1The historic wayes to the Waterside are held in public trust by the Newburyport Waterfront Trust, a board of five trustees appointed by the Mayor.

2Informal "parole evidence" offered by local octogenarians confirms and emphasizes these facts --- including recent discussions with Ralph Ayers and Norman Doyle.3 The oral history delivered by Norman Doyle is particularly relevant since as a child he would often visit his father, who was " 'chief of the fire department' when 'The Firehouse' was actually a 'firehouse'. " Those of his generation attest that the areas of what were once wharves or ways were not identified as such --- but that a locus was cited in reference to nearby structures, coal pockets or businesses such as the lumberyard, furniture store, gas stations, et cetera.4 Norm and his contemporaries confirmed that the community at large did not append "Railroad Avenue" to this way down to the Waterside.

But of course, given the broader recollections of the railroad track's terminus, and the unloading of coal onto Market Landing --- (an account which concurs with the legal transcript of stipulated fact) --- the reference Railroad Avenue makes cartographical sense, were it not for the following: outside of the waterfront locale, there are two other thoroughfares in Newburyport referenced as Railroad Avenue and Railroad Street. And when canvassing the community about Railroad Avenue, not one person identified the historic waye to the Waterside east of the Firehouse and Market Landing Park.

3As the reader might recall, "As I See It" columns by the late Mr. Doyle ("please call me 'Norm' ") once appeared monthly in the Daily News, affording readers a glimpse back in local history through his mind's eye. Forever young at heart, Norm's recollections about Newburyport were read and enjoyed by all generations. It is hoped that a sample of his works will soon appear here online on a link entitled "As I Saw It" by Norman Doyle, offering timeless impressions of the Waterside community he so loved.

4As do others of his generation, Norm recalled the deplorable condition of the waterfront. In the independent recollections of Norm's contemporaries, the word "mess" is uniformly applied. To a person, the whole area was considered "dangerous" --- with several recalling a drowning by a young man who did not heed the hazards of the waterfront area. One of Norm's columns recalls that the adventuresome youth of his day hopped coal cars, ignoring the caution the adult community drilled into their charges. Norm concluded that "kids will be kids" --- no matter the generation.



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