Yesterday's Island Today's Nantucket
Volume 40 Issue 7 • June 17-23, 2010
now in our 40th season

Celebrating our 40th Anniversary!
Island Memories

The '70s

The Decade of the 1970’s brought many changes to Nantucket as the island emerged from its old days to become the new Nantucket – for better or worse. Nantucket suffered growing pains as its economy grew and its political environment changed rapidly.

Amid the national turmoil over the Vietnam War, Nantucket saw a rising tide of dissent and drugs, with hundreds of young people who came to enjoy the island, sunning, surfing and smoking, filling the streets and the courts.

The island responded with a wave of confrontation and conservation. The Nantucket Conservation Foundation, founded in 1964, led the way in preservation of land. The Kennedy Bill, filed in 1972, proposed a broad federal control of lands, restricting development forever in some areas. The widely publicized movement brought Nantucket much national publicity and attracted more potential buyers, while polarizing sentiment of the island.

The town meeting voted to adopt Nantucket’s first zoning bylaw in April of 1972. This led to the establishment of planning, building and appeal boards and huge increases in town government. Before this date, town government was small and unobtrusive: one could build or use property without permits.

Continuing battles between development and preservation filled the news, while increased drug cases filled the courts. Major change in transportation began with the Steamship service moving to Hyannis, a long awaited move. Rising population the young increased the school population and demand for a new school. In 1974, Nantucket held its first Christmas stroll, an effort to keep Nantucket shoppers on the island – which served to attract more mainland visitors. The Old Island had changed.

—Robert F. Mooney 

This season is Yesterday’s Island’s 40th year publishing on Nantucket.  We’ve seen many changes on the island in those four decades, and over the years we’ve made many changes to our newsmagazine.

As part of our anniversary celebration, we’re printing memories of the island in 1970 that have been shared with us by readers.  Jo Ann Hubbard saw our request on the Yesterday’s Island Facebook page and was the very first to respond.  We’d like to thank her for sending in her story, and we hope that it jogs some memories of others on-island 40 years ago.
If you have a memory of Nantucket Island in 1970 that you’d like to share with us and our readers, please email it to or mail it to us at P.O. Box 626, Nantucket, MA 02554.


Nantucket’s most complete events & arts calendar • Established 1970 • © © 2019  Yesterday's Island • Advertise with Us