New Bedford is located in southeastern Massachusetts on Buzzards Bay, 50 miles (80 km) south of Boston. In the mid-19th century it was the leading whaling port on the Atlantic coast, was the fourth-ranking US port, and was the world's richest city per capita. The city's fortunes changed greatly with the collapse of the whaling industry. The economy revived with textile manufacturing in the 1880s, but declined again in the 1920s as the industry moved south.
Since then, the city has stabilized with a diversified industrial base. It is the seat of Bristol County, and remains an active port. The downtown area features many restored buildings, including the 1832 Seamen's Bethel made famous in Herman Melville's Moby Dick.