If Salem was once a prosperous world seaport, it was not due to the geography of the harbor, but to the enterprise of her seamen, tradesmen, and merchants.
Unlike other major ports such as New York, Salem Harbor had no major river to link it with inland towns and markets. The harbor was shallow - too shallow to accommodate the much larger merchant vessels built after 1850. In addition, the many islands and submerged rocks at the approach to the harbor made navigating dangerous at night or in thick weather.
To guide ships safely within the harbor, the U.S. Government built the lighthouse on your right at the tip of the wharf in 1871. The original lamp was fueled by oil, and later by acetylene gas. By 1930 the lantern was electrified. Today the lighthouse is being preserved by the National Park Service.