Located just 15 miles northeast of Boston, Salem’s quaint and atmospheric state today belies its long importance as a seaport for the burgeoning American colonies and republic. Where today it is best known for its distant past, it was once the hub of the East Indian spice trade in North America, Visitors can walk the decks of the Friendship of Salem, a replica three-masted East Indiaman docked at the town’s Pickering Wharf. Thanks to Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, the world also knows Salem as the site of a series of witchcraft trials in 1692, and references to those are plentiful in the town. Houses that attract visitors are the Pickman House, the oldest building in Salem, dating from 1664, the Gedney House from 1665 and the House of the Seven Gables made famous by local novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne. Another notable local Nathaniel was Mr. Bowditch, the mathematician who invented modern navigation technique. His home is also a popular site. The Peabody Essex Museum is the oldest continuously operating museum in America, and displays a treasury of Asian art and artifacts, especially a noted collection of Chinese export porcelains.