February 20, 2011

Salem - Still Destroying History

Tourist season is still a few months away, so nothing much is going on here, but an update is still needed in order to cover the more interesting things going on.

With Destination Salem's new Rorschach test of a logo, they hope to appeal to both the large witch tourism seeking demographic and the much smaller, but much more wealthy, yuppie/merchant history demographic. If you look closely it can be interpreted as either a witch's hat OR a sailboat looking sort of thing.

I hate the dichotomy that people insist exists between these two groups. Does it really exist? As a local tour guide and historian I can attest to the fact that the trading history of Salem can be interesting to everyone, it's just that the tourist institutions and the historians in Salem tell the stories in boring, dry, and uninteresting ways.

The other issue I have with the new logo is the new motto that goes along with it? "Still making history." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Still making history how? By allowing a national television show to take a crap on our history? By allowing the historic Old Salem Jail to be renovated into condos and a restaurant that betrays and capitalizes on the history of the building at the same time? The Old Burying Point cemetery, one of the only respectable historic tourist destinations in the city has been falling apart for decades and we just allow it (I see people working on restoration in there no more than 1 or 2 days a year)? We allow tour companies to exist that blatantly lie, take advantage of tourists, and disgrace our history.

If by "making history" they mean allowing the past to die and creating a new history to take it's place, then yes, we are creating history every day. But the ultimate goal is to do a service to history a little less like Winston Smith at Minitrue and a little more like detached observers with a desire to simply preserve what once was.

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