Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Martha's Vineyard (Wampanoag: Noepe) is an island (including the smaller Chappaquiddick Island) off the south of Cape Cod in New England, known for being an affluent summer colony. The islands both form a part of the Outer Lands region.
Often called just "The Vineyard," the island has a land area of 87.48 square miles (231.75 km²) and is the 58th largest island in the United States, and the third largest on the East Coast of the United States. It is also the largest island not connected to mainland by a bridge or tunnel on the East Coast of the United States.
It is located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in the County of Dukes County, which also includes Cuttyhunk and the other Elizabeth Islands, as well as the island of Nomans Land, which is both a US Wildlife preserve, as well as a US Naval practice bombing range which continues to be controversial. It was home to one of the earliest known deaf communities in the United States; consequently, a special sign language, Martha's Vineyard Sign Language (MVSL), developed on the island.
The estimated year-round population is 15,000 residents, however the summer population can swell to over 75,000 people. About 56% of the Vineyard’s 14,621 homes are seasonally occupied.
The island is primarily known as a summer colony, and is accessible only by boat and by air. Nevertheless, its year-round population has grown considerably since the 1960s. A study by the Martha's Vineyard Commission found that the cost of living on the island is 60 percent higher than the national average and housing prices are 96 percent higher.