Stagnating manufacturing and commerce during the Civil War and shifting migration trends into the American West caused further economic development in the once bustling maritime port town to begin contracting.
The arrival of railroad transportation to the region further reduced the importance of waterway shipping and accelerated a gradual downward growth cycle in Essex. And the latter half of the 19th century was marked by shrinking local enterprise and a dwindling population. The era of Essex growth had ended.
Essex Development Then and Now
This rapid expansion and contraction was not unique to Essex, but it may have been instrumental in preserving the architectural heritage which served as the foundation for (and continues to underpin) subsequent Essex development as a tourist and historic preservation destination. But this line of speculation and hypothesis is better saved for another post…