Provincetown, a town of Barnstable co., Massachusetts, occupying the extremity of Cape Cod, at the terminus of the Cape Cod division of the Old Colony railroad, 120 m. by rail and 55 m. by water S. E. of Boston; pop. in 1850, 3,157; in 1860, 3,206; in 1870, 3,865. The town is 4 m. long by 3 m. in width at the widest part. The harbor is on the inner side of the cape, and is almost entirely landlocked. It is unsurpassed for size and depth of water, covering an area of 3 by 5 m., 30 fathoms deep in the deepest parts, without rocks, bars, or shoals. The village skirts the shore of the harbor, and is formed of wooden buildings, compactly built, presenting a beautiful view from the water. Provincetown is a popular summer resort. It is noted for its cod, mackerel, and whale fisheries. In 1875 there were owned here 185 vessels, with an aggregate tonnage of 16,000, of which 20 were employed in coasting, 19 in whaling, and 146 in the cod and mackerel fisheries. The average annual catch of codfish for the four years ending in 1875 was 80,000 quintals; of mackerel, 20,000 barrels.
In whaling the town ranks with New London next to New Bedford. It contains three marine railways, 30 wharves, a national bank with a capital of $200,000, a savings bank with deposits amounting to $500,000, and three marine insurance companies with an aggregate capital of $250,000. It has a fine fire department. The assessed value of property in 1875 was about $2,000,000. There are 14 public schools (1 high, 1 grammar, and 12 intermediate and primary), supported at an annual cost of $7,400, exclusive of repairs of building; a weekly newspaper; a public library of 2,200 volumes; and six religious societies. - In Provincetown harbor the Mayflower first cast anchor in America. Here the pilgrims signed the first compact of government, and here the first child in New England of English parentage was born.