The quaint, quiet coastal town of Manchester-by-the-Sea is a well-kept secret no more, thanks to the recent Hollywood film that takes its name from the place. With a population just over 5,000, this comfortable, close-knit community on Cape Ann has so many classic New England elements — the old homes and summer getaways, the fishing tradition, the accents — that the mere mention of the town’s unusual name has become a kind of cinematic shorthand.
In fact, the name has included the “by-the-Sea’’ part only since 1989, when a lifelong resident and longtime selectman, Edward F. Corley, successfully sponsored the addition to distinguish the town from the city of Manchester, N.H.
Susan Harsch, who owns Grove Boutique and Cafe in the picturesque downtown, said she was attracted to the cozy sense of community when she first moved to town, in 2003. “I love that you can walk from one end of town to the other.’’
A native New Yorker who lived in the Back Bay for a decade, she fell for the North Shore after taking a teaching job in Beverly. She changed careers in 2012, and now splits her time between a second cafe at MarketStreet Lynnfield and her downtown spot.
“Everyone who walks through the door, I know them, I know their kids, I know their dogs,’’ she said. “I get to serve coffee and chat with amazing people all day long. How great is that?’’
The total worldwide gross as of Feb. 23 for “Manchester by the Sea,’’ the Oscar-nominated film named for the town and starring Casey Affleck
The number of votes by which the community’s name change passed at Town Meeting in 1989. The Legislature then ordered that it be placed on the town election ballot. It passed again, but barely, 51 percent to 49 percent.
Where John Updike’s name appears on a plaque in the memorial garden behind Emmanuel Church. Some of the late novelist’s ashes were scattered there. A longtime resident of Beverly Farms in the city of Beverly, Updike died in 2009.
Number of acres at Agassiz Rock, a Trustees of Reservations park named for two huge boulders that demonstrate Louis Agassiz’s theory of glacial deposits. Prior to the Harvard professor’s hypothesis, many New Englanders believed that the region’s rocky coastline was created in the great flood described in the Book of Genesis.
Manchester is especially canine-hospitable, said Harsch, who welcomes pet owners and their furry friends at her cafe. (She has two rescue dogs of her own.) Also, dogs who respond to voice commands are allowed off-leash at Singing Beach from Oct. 15 to April 14.
Like many small coastal towns, Manchester-by-the-Sea has a shortage of parking space for visitors. For years, beachgoers in the know have traveled to town on the commuter rail: Singing Beach, so named for the sound of footsteps in the sand, is a headache-free half-mile walk from the train station.