From Pilgrim Landing to Gay Resort

276 pages

36 illustrations

May, 2007

ISBN: 9780814747629



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Karen Christel Krahulik is Senior Associate Dean for International Programs and Experiential Learning at Princeton University.

All books by Karen Christel Krahulik

How did a sleepy New England fishing village become a gay mecca? In this dynamic history, Karen Christel Krahulik explains why Provincetown, Massachusetts—alternately known as “Land’s End,” “Cape-tip,” “Cape-end,” and, to some, “Queersville, U.S.A”—has meant many things to many people.

Provincetown tells the story of this beguiling coastal town, from its early history as a mid-nineteenth century colonial village to its current stature as a bustling gay tourist destination. It details the many cultures and groups—Yankee artists, Portuguese fishermen, tourists—that have comprised and influenced Provincetown, and explains how all of them, in conjunction with larger economic and political forces, come together to create a gay and lesbian mecca.

Through personal stories and historical accounts, Provincetown reveals the fascinating features that have made Provincetown such a textured and colorful destination: its fame as the landfall of the Mayflower Pilgrims, charm as an eccentric artists’ colony, and allure as a Dionysian playground. It also hints at one of Provincetown’s most dramatic economic changes: its turn from fishing village to resort town. From a history of fishing economies to a history of tourism, Provincetown, in the end, is as eclectic and vibrant as the city itself.


  • &8220;Krahulik offers a fascinating and lively account of how Provincetown, Massachusetts, became America's most famous gay resort. The book is both a celebration of the community's embrace of freedom and a reminder that Provincetown—despite its vaunted tolerance for sexual nonconformity—faced problems of racism, sexism, and economic exploitation. . . . Krahulik shows how the different and sometimes overlapping constituencies of Provincetown shaped compromises that allowed the community to persist and prosper. But this important book also reveals that being a gay resort did not protect Provincetown from class, racial, ethnic, or gender conflicts.”

    American Historical Review

  • “t;Krahulik combines traditional research methods and oral histories to record and interpret this journey in a respectful, scholarly manner.”

    Choice, Highly Recommended

  • “At the end of curling Cape Cod, Provincetown has gone through several transformations since the Pilgrims landed there—from Yankee whaling town to Portuguese fishing village to bohemian artist enclave to, today, one of the world's most popular gay resorts. Surprisingly, each of those segments of society contributed to the ‘P-town’ of today.&”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • &“Karen Krahulik’s Provincetown is the definitive book on the history of that mysterious and magical place. It’s a singular accomplishment. I’m grateful to her for writing it, as I suspect many others will be for years and years to come.”

    —Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours

  • “This book performs a service by judiciously compiling the facts of Provincetown’s history.”

    Gay & Lesbian Review