For geographic and demographic information about the village of North Eastham, please see North Eastham, Massachusetts.
Today, Eastham is mostly known as the "Gate" to the Cape Cod National Seashore, which was founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy to protect Cape Cod's coast from erosion and overpopulation. The town is the site of many beaches, both on the Atlantic and bay sides, as well as the Nauset Light, which was moved to the town in 1923 from its old location in Chatham, and the Three Sisters Lighthouses, which have since been moved away from their now-eroded perches on the coast to a field just west of Nauset Light.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 27.2 square miles (70.6 km²), of which, 14.0 square miles (36.2 km²) of it is land and 13.3 square miles (34.3 km²) of it (48.66%) is water. It is bordered by Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean on its western and eastern sides, respectively. Eastham is also bordered by the towns of Wellfleet and Orleans on its northern and southern sides, respectively. Eastham is located on the "forearm" of Cape Cod, and is twenty-three miles south of Provincetown and east-northeast of Barnstable, thirty-eight miles east of the Sagamore Bridge, and ninety-two miles (by land) southeast of Boston.
Approximately one-third of the town is located within the Cape Cod National Seashore. There are several freshwater ponds near the center of town, the largest being called Great Pond, which has two public beaches and does not allow water-skiing. Along the Atlantic coast, portions of the CCNS include several islands, divided by channels which lead from Nauset Bay and Salt Pond Bay to the ocean. The town also shares Town Cove with neighboring Orleans. Also, several creeks and the Herring River run inland from the bay side.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,453 people, 2,396 households, and 1,634 families residing in the town. The population density was 389.8 people per square mile (150.5/km²). There were 5,535 housing units at an average density of 395.6/sq mi (152.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.31% White, 1.49% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.29% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.83% of the population.
There were 2,396 households out of which 21.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.0% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.8% were non-families. 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.66.
In the town the population was spread out with 17.7% under the age of 18, 5.0% from 18 to 24, 23.7% from 25 to 44, 27.6% from 45 to 64, and 26.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females there were 93.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.0 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $42,618, and the median income for a family was $51,269. Males had a median income of $36,642 versus $32,109 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,642. About 4.5% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.5% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.
On the national level, Eastham is a part of Massachusetts's 10th congressional district, and is currently represented by Bill Delahunt. The state's senior (Class I) member of the United States Senate, re-elected in 2006, is Ted Kennedy. The junior (Class II) Senator, up for re-election in 2008, is John Kerry.
Eastham is governed by the open town meeting form of government, and is led by a town administrator and a board of selectmen. The town hall, police and fire department headquarters are all located along Route 6 across from Windmill Park. The Eastham Public Library is located just west of the park, along Samoset Road (which leads from Route 6 to First Encounter Beach). There are separate post offices for Eastham and the village of North Eastham, both of which are located along Route 6 (the former being just across from the town hall, south of the park).
Eastham is home to a number of sites that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Eastham Center Historic District, located near Town Hall, is the site of Eastham Windmill, the oldest windmill on Cape Cod. Another registered historic place, Nauset Light, is located on the grounds of the Cape Cod National Seashore.