A cape is a point of land, a ridge, or rock, projecting into a sea or other body of water; related terms include promontory and headland. The word comes from the French cap, or head, referring to a projecting point or peninsula. Cape Horn, the most legendary of this type of landmass, is the southernmost point of South America, first rounded by Europeans in 1616. The U.S. coastline features many capes, including The Cape in Cumberland, Maine; Cape Hatteras in North Carolina; Cape Meares in Oregon; Cape Island Point in South Carolina; and Cape Northumberland at Prince of Wales, Alaska. Cape Cod, perhaps the best-known and most distinctive cape in the United States, extends off the state of Massachusetts, and was described playfully by Henry David Thoreau, in Cape Cod, as “the bared and bended arm of Massachusetts: the shoulder is at Buzzard’s Bay; the elbow, or crazy-bone, at Cape Mallebarre; the wrist at Truro; and the sandy fist at Provincetown—behind which the State stands on her guard, with her back to the Green Mountains, and her feet planted on the floor of the ocean, like an athlete protecting her Bay,— boxing with northeast storms, and, ever and anon, heaving up her Atlantic adversary from the lap of earth,—ready to thrust forward her other fist, which keeps guard the while upon her breast at Cape Ann.”

Lan Samantha Chang