Any account of the Harbor View's history must begin with Edgartown, its legendary birthplace.
Settled in 1671, this early colony steadily came to be known as a prime port for whaling. And as that enterprise grew, so too did Edgartown, in both prominence and influence.
In fact, by mid-1800, this bustling municipality had become the Vineyard's wealthiest. But as the whaling industry began to ebb, Edgartown officials turned their attention to a new source of prosperity: tourism.
With ambitions of building the finest resort of its kind, local leaders set about creating an infrastructure – starting with light rail that connected the ferry port of Oak Bluffs to Edgartown, where a proposed hotel would welcome guests from around the world.
Construction of this highly-anticipated endeavor concluded in the spring of 1891; not long thereafter – on July 23rd – the Harbor View opened its doors.
The exclusive, invitation-only gala welcomed 400 privileged guests, who mingled and danced until dawn on the hotel’s verandas, which were festively adorned with exotic Chinese lanterns.
Thus began its reputation as the ultimate island retreat, where the cultivated and wealthy, the famous and far-flung, summered leisurely upon her shores. Soon, it became the resort of choice – not only for generations of returning families, but for high-profile celebrities, powerful politicians and legendary stars of sport, stage and screen – including a rather infamous mechanical shark named “Bruce,” who, along with Steven Spielberg and a profusion of Hollywood cast and crew, virtually took over Edgartown (and the remainder of Martha’s Vineyard) while filming the blockbuster “Jaws” in 1975.
Today, with its doors open wide to greet a new generation of guests – along with a sizable contingent of the ever-faithful – this storied hotel beckons one and all to discover the new charms and refreshed allure of the Vineyard’s finest resort destination.