Bristol #11: RI’s Best Communities 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012


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The phrase postcard-perfect is overused and applied to unworthy subjects, but no one could dispute that this East Bay town, with its historic homes, bustling waterfront, and red-and-white-stripe Yankee Doodle Dandy of a Main Street, is anything but. Home to the nation's oldest Fourth of July parade, Bristol is not only an emblematic New England town but a mixed and vibrant community that occupies the #11 position in this year's Best Communities ranking.

Last year, Bristol entered the Top 10 at #8... what's behind its drop in 2012? Primarily, affordability. Bristol's Median Housing Price jumped to $281,750 this year, while Household Income declined. The result--an Affordability ranking drop of 5 places, down to #29 for 2012. And while Bristol improved its NECAP testing performance, the expensive East Bay town is still only at #21 statewide for Education. But here's where the tide turns. With Top 10 Economic Condition and Safety rankings, and a #7 ranking in Arts & Culture, Bristol town reminds that real communities, good ones, exist. Even in postcards.

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Bristol by the numbers

Established: 1680
Population: 22,954
Median household income: $63,00
Median housing price: $281,750

2012 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 11
Affordability ranking: 29
Education ranking: 21
Economic condition ranking: 10
Safety ranking: 10
Arts & Culture ranking: 7
Restaurants & Bars ranking: 17

History in a nutshell:

The early history of Bristol is most associated with the Metacom War. It was here where King Philip maintained his base, plotted his attacks against the white settlers, and where he would ultimately die at the foot of Mount Hope. In 1680, Bristol was incorporated as part of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts and was later transferred to Rhode Island in 1746. Ever since the 17th century, shipbuilding and sailing have been an integral part of the local community. Surrounding Bristol are 15 miles of Narragansett Bay coastline and there are ample areas for sailing, fishing, and swimming.

Famous residents:

Benjain Bourne, lawyer, jurist, and politician
Pat McGee, singer, songwriter, musician
John Saffin, best known for his A Brief and Candid Answer to Samuel Sewall's The Selling of Joseph (1700), over the issue of slavery
William Bradford, physician, lawyer, and United States Senator
Jonathan Russell Bullock, jurist and legislator
Ambrose Burnside, railroad executive, industrialist, politician, and Union general
Jonathan DeFelice, President of Saint Anselm College
James De Wolf, slave trader and United States senator
Nathanael Herreshoff, yacht designer & builder
Ira Magaziner, former senior adviser for policy development to the Clinton Administration and chairman of the William J Clinton Foundation Initiatives
Ethel Barrymore Colt, actor and lyricist
Samuel P. Colt, entrepreneur, politician, lawyer, gentleman farmer & philanthropist
Anthony Quinn, actor
William Thomas "Billy" Andrade, PGA Tour Professional Golfer
Edward L. Leahy, United States Senator and federal judge
Norman Rene, theater and film director
John Saffin, merchant and author (A Brief and Candid Answer to Samuel Sewall's The Selling of Joseph, 1700)
Todd Santos, meteorologist for The Weather Channel

Famous residents source: Wikipedia

For more Best Communities coverage, don't miss GoLocalTV, fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7, here.


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