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Best Community #37: Too Rich for RI?

Monday, June 20, 2011


New Shoreham

It may be nearly 10 square miles of heaven to visit, but when you do the numbers, it's not the best overall place to live in Rhode Island. New Shoreham, the town that defines Rhode Island's idyllic offshore Block Island, may have priced itself out of the rankings. Although as the Nature Conservancy deemed, Block Island remains one of the Western Hemisphere's Last Great Places.

With a median housing price in 2010 of a whopping $620,000, this is a very exclusive community (placing it dead last in the Affordability ranking), and has come a long way from its more humble roots as a fishing and

agrarian outpost. Further, its relatively high number of property crimes as percentage of population push its overall ranking down into the lower section of the state, and its mid-list education ranking doesn't square with its high cost of housing (the challenge of a year-round population amidst a resort community).

New Shoreham by the numbers

Established: 1664
Population: 1,051
Median household income: $81,477
Median housing price: $620,000

2011 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 37
Affordability ranking: 39
Education ranking: 25
Economic condition ranking: 1
Safety ranking: 38
Arts & Culture ranking: 23

History in a nutshell:

Whereas the town on Block Island, New Shoreham, takes its name from Shoreham in Sussex County, England, the island itself has a Dutch connection - named for the Dutch navigator, Adrian Block, who visited there in 1614. The first European settlers arrived in 1661 and three years later it came under the jurisdiction of the Rhode Island colony. In 1672, the town of New Shoreham was formally incorporated. Beginning in the Victorian era, tourism took over the quiet island as steamships brought delighted visitors from the mainland. The broad hotels that still stand along the waterfront remind of the love affair with New Shoreham, and Block Island as a whole, that has never gone away. Remarkably, approximately 20 percent of the land is set aside for conservation.

Famous residents:

Kenneth Bacon, Department of Defense spokesman who later served as president of Refugees International
Jens Risom, Danish-American furniture designer
Christopher Walken, American actor

Photo: Dan Connolly

Additional research by Nate Holterman


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