Soon after the town's founding, agriculture, fishing and salt works became its major industries.
By the late 19th century, however, Barnstable was becoming world-renowned as the tourist destination it is to this day.
As of the census[13] of 2000, there were 47,821 people, 19,626 households, and 13,012 families residing in the town. The median income for a household in the town was $46,811, and the median income for a family was $54,026. The town hall is located within the village of Hyannis, and the police station is located on Route 132, closer to the geographic center of town. Barnstable is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a part of the Second, Third and Fifth Barnstable Districts. On the national level, Barnstable is a part of Massachusetts's 9th congressional district, and is currently represented by William R. Barnstable has the largest public school enrollment of any city or town on Cape Cod, with over 5,000 students. Barnstable is the home of Cape Cod Community College, a two-year junior college affiliated with Suffolk University in Boston. Many prominent Bostonians spent their summers on the Cape shores, as did Presidents Ulysses S.
There is abundant shopping in the quaint shops of Hyannis, and other popular sites abound, such as the John F. To the north lie the dunes of Sandy Neck along Barnstable Harbor, tipped by the Sandy Neck Light. It was created when the town rewrote its charter and was moved from a selectman, town meeting form of government to a town council form of government in 1989. There are eight fire stations, seven libraries and ten post offices located throughout the town, with the largest or central branches usually being in the downtown Hyannis area.
There are five Christian schools, three of which are not Catholic: Bayberry Christian Academy (K-3), Faith Christian School (PK-12), and Trinity Christian Academy (PK-12).

Route 6 and Massachusetts Route 28 pass through the town from west to east, with Route 6 being a four-lane freeway through the town. The Cape Cod Central Railroad operates seasonal tourist excursions from Hyannis to Sandwich and Sagamore, with some scheduled weekend stops at the West Barnstable depot on Route 149 near Route 6A.
Cape Cod Airfield is a smaller airfield, used primarily for private travel, and Barnstable Municipal Airport at Polando Field is used for regional flights, especially between the Cape and the islands. It was one of the first towns to be settled, one year behind Sandwich, in 1638, and was incorporated in 1639. But this came to a decline with the rise of the railroad, which had arrived in 1854, and of steamships. Kennedy Museum and several other museums and places on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Ancient Burying Ground and Gideon Hawley House.
Barnstable is one of fourteen Massachusetts municipalities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government but wish to retain "The town of” in their official names.[14] The first town manager, Warren Rutherford, was in office from 1990-1997. There are two Catholic schools, Saint Francis Xavier Prep (5-8) and Pope John Paul II High School, which opened in 2007. The nearest inter-city (Amtrak) passenger rail stations are Boston's South Station and Providence.
The nearest national and international air service can be reached at Logan International Airport in Boston.
However, the most famous family to summer in the town was, and remains, the Kennedy family, who can still be found living in the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port. The south is where the bulk of the population lives, many along the beaches of Centerville and Hyannis Harbors. His successor, James Tinsley, was in office from 1997 to 1999, when he died from a heart attack. Also, as the county seat of Barnstable County, the town is the site of the county courthouse and juvenile lockup at the old house of corrections, as well as the offices of the Cape and Islands district attorney.
The Barnstable Horace Mann Charter School is open to fourth and fifth grade students, and all town fourth and fifth grade students attend this school.

Barnstable is also home to the Academy of Early Learning (PK-6), Veritas Academy (K-8), and the Cape Cod Academy, a private K-12 school. Route 6A follows an east-west route to the north of Route 6, on its route between the Sagamore Bridge and the Orleans Rotary. The Barnstable Middle School serves grades six and seven, and is located on Route 28 behind Barnstable High School, which serves grades eight through twelve.
There are also two special education schools (Southeast Alternative & Beacon Point), as well as the Sturgis Charter School, which serves high school-aged students. Routes 132 and 149 are both entirely located within the town, and both begin at 6A and end at Route 28.
Kennedy during his administration, and it was likewise the home of Senator Ted Kennedy until his death. Barnstable's athletic teams are nicknamed the Red Raiders (using a logo similar to that of the University of Utah), and their colors are red and white. Additionally, high school students have the option of attending Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich free of charge.
Klimm had his contract bought in 2011 due to the actions of six members of the Barnstable Town Council, known as the "Gang of Six." Thomas K. Their teams are highly successful because of the large student body from which to choose players.
Donald Grissom resigned from the position of Town Council Administrator earlier in the year. Barnstable has played Falmouth in football on Thanksgiving Day nearly every year since 1895, making the annual game one of the longest-standing high school football rivalries in history.

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