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Johnston #34: RI’s Best Communities 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

 

Johnston

Does a Rhode Island town ever outgrow its Big Hair reputation? Johnston might have had a chance, but the skyscraper stylings of its best-known local boy, Pauly D, have kept the big coif rep intact. Add to Pauly D's high-profile antics first on MTV's popular reality show, The Jersey Shore, and now with his RI homeboys on The Pauly D Project, it's only natural that 46.7% of Johnston residents identified themselves in 2000 as being of Italian heritage. In fact, the town has the highest percentage of Italian Americans of any municipality in the country. That's a lot of character (and delicious local restaurants).

Celebrity aside, Johnston continues to inhabit the Bottom 10 in GoLocalProv's 2012 Best Community rankings, holding its spot at #34 for the 2nd year in a row. The recession has not been kind to Johnston, hitting both its Median Household Income and its Median Housing Price, moving the town's Affordability ranking down 3 notches, to #17 in the state. It's already-low Education ranking dropped as well, from #33 in 2011 to #34 this year. Johnston also dropped 2 slots in Safety, to #29 overall.

Johnston by the numbers

Established: 1636
Population: 28,769
Median household income: $55,394
Median housing price: $176,050

2012 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 34
Affordability ranking: 17
Education ranking: 34
Economic condition ranking: 35
Safety ranking: 29
Arts & Culture ranking: 29
Restaurants & Bars ranking: 8

History in a nutshell:

Johnston was originally a part of Providence before it became its own town when it was incorporated in 1759. It was named in honor of Augustus Lucas Johnston, the attorney general of Rhode Island from 1758 to 1766. Early settlers worked in the soapstone quarry, cotton mills, and a dyestuffs factory. In addition to its early industry, Johnston was also a farming community. However, the past importance of farming has now been replaced by the manufacturing of jewelry and silverware and trade establishments. Today, most of the community has been a product of suburban development but a few old colonial farm houses still paint the landscape, including a rare and historic stone-ender, the Clemence Irons House (pictured above).

Famous residents:

Anthony Paul Cerbo, singer
Samuel Ward King, Governor of Rhode Island during the Dorr Rebellion
Pauly D, DJ and featured performer on The Jersey Shore and star of The Pauly D Project
Joe Polisena, former member of the Rhode Island Senate and mayor of Johnston

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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