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Provincetown, Massachusetts

Located at the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the town of Provincetown occupies 8.35 square miles, and has a year-round population of approximately 3,400. Provincetown is known for its beaches, artists, and tourist industry.

When Provincetown was incorporated in 1727, it had already been harboring ships for more than a century. French explorer Samuel de Champlain visited Provincetown as early as 1605. In 1620 the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower compact[?] in Provincetown's harbor, agreeing to settle and build a self-governing community. Though the Pilgrims chose to settle across the bay in Plymouth[?], Provincetown was eventually settled as a fishing village in 1700.

The population of Provincetown remained small through most of the 18th century. Following the American Revolution, however, Provincetown grew rapidly as the fishing and whaling center of Cape Cod. The population was bolstered by a number of Portuguese sailors who, hired to work on US ships, came to live in Provincetown. By the 1890s, Provincetown was booming, and had begun to develop a resident population of writers and artists, as well as a summer tourist industry. When the 1898 Portland Gale severely damaged the town's fishing industry, the artistic industry of the town took over many of the abandoned buildings. By the early decades of the 20th century, the town had acquired an international reputation for its artistic and literary output.

To this day, Provincetown continues to be a working site for many artists, and galleries can be found throughout the town. The town becomes quiet and peaceful during the cold New England winters, and raucously crowded during the tourist-packed summers.

In recent years, Provincetown has become a major gay and lesbian center. The contribution of these individuals has added significantly to the flavor of the town, rejuvenating it at a time when many Cape destinations were losing their vitality at the hands of the tourist industry.

Provincetown is located in Barnstable county. Residents elect selectmen, employ a town manager, and hold open town meetings.

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