To give visitors a context in which to understand the Bay, the Draft Gateways Framework envisions organizing sites around three overarching Bay themes that link all sites:

  • Interconnectedness: These are the links between water, place and nature that have influenced sites and events over time.

  • Interdependence: For centuries, human well-being has depended on the Bay’s abundance; today, the Bay’s well-being is dependent on human decisions and actions.

  • Knowledge & Mystery: Although the Bay is one of the most studied bodies of water in the world, it remains unpredictable and continues to surprise, awe, inspire and mystify people.

Besides the overarching themes, the framework establishes a series of principle themes and subthemes that would link sites around the Bay:

  • The Living, Natural Bay: These sites would highlight the geology and formation of the Bay, the Bay waters, estuarine ecology, tidal wetlands, fish and shellfish production, biological diversity, wildlife and waterfowl, bird migration routes, and natural disasters.

  • People of the Bay: These sites highlight 13,000 years of immigration and the diversity of Bay region settlers, include examples of racial and ethnic heritage, sources of conflict and cooperation, political issues and religious groups.

  • Bay Settlement: These sites highlight settlement patterns, the impact of geography and topography on settlement, indigenous communities, European discovery, exploration, African American settlement, later immigration to the Bay and the growth of the region.

  • Economic Resources: These sites highlight marine resources and their harvest, the harvest of land and mineral resources, agriculture, the Bay and trade, the Bay and its tributaries as a transportation network and shipbuilding.

  • Military and Naval Presence on the Bay: These sites highlight the conflicts of early settlers with natives, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the War of 1812, Bay military installations in the 20th century, naval shipbuilding and the Bay in development of modern weaponry.

  • Recreation & Renewal: These sites feature water sports, fishing, hiking, camping, sightseeing, birding, wildlife viewing and the Bay in art — photography, literature, poetry, decoy carving, regional music and folklore.

  • Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability: These sites feature changing perspectives on the Bay, resource protection and restoration, water quality restoration, habitat protection and restoration, sustainable economic development and community engagement.