Development: Trading Up Nantucket

Not long after Ahab navigated the Pequod out of Nantucket, Mass., in search of Moby Dick, the economy of the small island off Cape Cod began to stagnate. With the whalers gone, the population dropped from 17,000 to 3,500 and construction stopped altogether, so that today 60% of the houses predate 1840, and only the scallop industry survives, grossing about $200,000 a year.

Tourism is another matter. Nantucket has become a favorite summer resort and tourist attraction. The population jumps to 16,000 in July and August; last summer 200,000 sightseers overran its quaint...

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