New Bedford, Massachusetts, a city in Bristol County, 50 miles (80 km) south of Boston. It is on New Bedford Harbor, which is the estuary of the Acushnet River and opens onto Buzzards Bay. New Bedford is primarily an industrial city, producing textiles and clothing, electrical machinery, and rubber products. From its early days New Bedford has been an important fishing port. At one time it was a center for whalers; the main catch today is scallops. The city has a municipal airport and has ship connections with the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Southeastern Massachusetts University is at nearby North Dartmouth.
The Bourne Whaling Museum has one of the world's largest collections of whaling materials. Seaman's Bethel, built in 1832, is the chapel described in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. The public library also has a collection of whaling materials.
In the middle of the 17th century, colonists from Plymouth settled in the area. The town, named for Bedford, England, was founded in 1719. In 1778 it was captured and nearly destroyed by the British. New Bedford became a city in 1847. By the end of the Civil War, the whaling industry had been replaced by cotton textile production. In the 1930's textile plants began moving southward.