On the very same expedition on which British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold settled Cuttyhunk Island  in 1602 (note to Mayflower descendants: that was a full 18 years before anyone landed on Plymouth Rock ), he and his troupe also set up camp in what is now New Bedford. Had they not left that same year to return to Mother England, New Bedford might well have been what Plymouth  is today.
Instead, New Bedford has enjoyed a very different kind of fame: In the early 19th century, it was second only to Nantucket  as the world’s major whaling center—by the middle of the century, it had surpassed it. Unlike Nantucket, however, New Bedford had other sources of revenue in place when whale oil was made obsolete by the discovery of petroleum in 1859—namely cotton goods manufacturing and fisheries, both of which were in full swing by the mid-19th century.
The city is still a center for the New England fishing industry, though to a much lesser extent, since overfishing has greatly affected the area’s fish population. The human population, meanwhile, has risen to 100,000, with a citizenry that reflects its globally recognized past. The Portuguese population is of particular influence in and around New Bedford, and it shows in its restaurants  and festivals .