Part of the Cape Ann community and previously part of Ipswich, Essex was also once called Chebacco Parish. Essex is home of the fried clam and reportedly where it was invented; it is known for its connection to the sea. Many areas of the town are close to sea level maintaining a rural quality with abundant forested areas and wetlands like Essex Bay and Essex River. Neighboring towns include Ipswich, Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Hamilton. Only 26 miles North of Boston, this rural community with its small-town character, natural beauty, and reputation for being an antique shop mecca, makes this coastal New England town a widely recognized gem.