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Newport #21: RI’s Best Communities 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

 

Newport

It is hard to imagine a city this famous, world-wide, would struggle with poverty and the attendant strain it puts on education, crime, and a community's overall quality of life. But this gleaming former colonial capital is indeed a city of contrasts, and these contradictions place Newport in the middle of the state's overall rankings, at #21.

While visitors may envision Newport's housing stock as only lining the cobbled streets of Bellevue and environs, the city has a great variety of housing in varied neighborhoods, translating to a Median Housing Price of $375,000, far below East Greenwich's $433,750 and Jamestown's $450,000, not to mention New Shoreham's $1.27 million. But even so, a low Median Household Income puts this average far out of reach for many Newporters, adding up to the second-lowest Affordability ranking in the state (only New Shoreham is worse). The sad reality of Newport, still, is public schools that don't fulfill their promise: Newport ranked #35 statewide in 2012 for Education for the second year running. And despite the state's highest ranking for Arts & Culture (tied with Providence at #1) as well as a #4 ranking for Restaurants & Bars, factors like an extremely low Safety ranking (#38) keep this shining city with such an historic legacy from achieving a higher overall ranking

Newport by the numbers

Established: 1639
Population: 24,672
Median household income: $57,640
Median housing price: $375,000

2012 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 21
Affordability ranking: 38
Education ranking: 35
Economic condition ranking: 16
Safety ranking: 38
Arts & Culture ranking: 1
Restaurants & Bars ranking: 4

History in a nutshell:

Since Newport’s establishment as a city it has enjoyed a history of progress and success. By the start of the 18th century, commerce combined with an avid fishing and farming industry brought great wealth to the city. Among all 13 original colonies, Newport was known as one of the five most important settlements sharing that distinction with cities like Boston and New York. Surrounded by a sprawling waterfront, Newport was fittingly titled the “Birthplace of the Navy.” Newport has more standing buildings built before 1830 than any other American community. Newport offers cruises, excursion boats, city tours, golf, and fishing among other things for visitors making it one of the most desired tourist destinations in the country.

Famous residents:

Benedict Arnold, (governor) of Rhode Island
William Coddington, governor of Rhode Island
John Clarke, Baptist minister and drafter of the Royal Charter
Nicholas Easton, governor of Rhode Island
George Berkeley, philosopher
Louis Alexandre Berthier, French Army officer, later Marshal of France and Napoleon's chief of staff
William Ellery, signer of the Declaration of Independence
Robert Feke, portrait painter
Peter Harrison, architect
Samuel Hopkins (clergyman), Congregational minister, Calvinist theologian and pioneer leader for abolition of the slave trade
Aaron Lopez, prominent merchant
Louis-Marie, vicomte de Noailles, French army officer
Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, French general
Charles Theodore Pachelbel, first organist of Newport's Trinity Church and son of Johann Pachelbel
William Selby, organist (Trinity Church) and composer
John Smybert, artist
Ezra Stiles, minister, diarist, and President of Yale
Gilbert Stuart, portrait painter
Isaac Touro, hazzan at Synagogue
Judah Touro, prominent merchant and philanthropist
Vice-Admiral Sir Jahleel Brenton, Royal Navy
William Ellery Channing, one of the foremost Unitarian preachers of the 19th century
George Bancroft, historian, Secretary of the Navy, diplomat, and summer resident
August Belmont, financier
Ambrose Burnside, Army officer stationed at Fort Adams, later a Civil War general, governor, and senator
Julia Ward Howe, author and summer resident
Henry James, author
William James, Harvard professor
John Kensett, artist
Clement C. Moore, summer resident and author of 'Twas the Night before Christmas
Levi P. Morton, summer resident and donor of Morton Park, later Vice President of the United States
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the War of 1812
William Trost Richards, artist
Milton H. Sanford, textile magnate and thoroughbred racehorse owner
Richard Upjohn, architect
Louis Agaziz, scientist and adventurer
Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, socialite
Alva Belmont, socialite and leader of women's rights movement
Charles D. Barney, socialite, banker, founder of Smith Barney Brokerage
Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, socialite, builder of Belcourt Castle
James Gordon Bennett, Jr. newspaper publisher and yachtsman
Ogden Codman, designer
Richard Morris Hunt, architect
William Morris Hunt, artist
John LaFarge, artist
Pierre Lorillard, tobacco manufacturer
Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, founder, Naval War College
Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, naval historian and strategist
Ward McAllister, flamboyant raconteur of high society, coined the term 'the 400' for the New York social elite
Charles McKim, architect
H.H. Ricardson, architect
Edith B. Price, writer and illustrator
Horace Trumbauer, architect
Alva Vanderbilt Wife of William K. Vanderbilt, early feminist and active in the women's suffrage movement
Consuelo Vanderbilt, daughter of W.K. and Alva Vanderbilt; Duchess of Marlborough
Cornelius Vanderbilt II heir to Vanderbilt fortune, Chairman of New York Central Railroad
William Kissam Vanderbilt heir to Vanderbilt fortune, noted yachtsman
Edith Wharton, author
Stanford White, architect
Edward Malbone, artist and miniaturist
Caleb Gardner, captain and counsul of the French Empire
Thomas Harper Ince, actor
Ida Lewis, lighthouse keeper credited with saving 18 lives in Newport Harbor throughout the nineteenth century; she received national attention and numerous honors. A United States Coast Guard buoy tender bears her name
Matthew C. Perry, Commodore of the U.S. Navy who forced the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, under the threat of military force
Harry Anderson, actor and comedian
Nadia Bjorlin, soap opera actress (Days of our Lives)
Frank Corridon, who pitched for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and St. Louis Cardinals and is known for inventing the now illegal pitch, the spitball
Tanya Donelly, musician, vocalist for Rhode Island-based bands Belly and Throwing Muses, as well as guitarist for the band The Breeders
Leon Wilkeson, bass guitarist
Charlie Fern, White House speechwriter, journalist.
Van Johnson, actor, known best for "all-American" roles in MGM films during World War II.
Mena Suvari, actress, known best for her role as the vampish cheerleader with whom Kevin Spacey's character is obsessed in the 1999 film American Beauty.
Laura Jane Barney socialite, philanthropist, Smith Barney Brokerage heiress Champ Soleil Mansion on Belleveue Ave
Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda, 25th Chief of Naval Operations
John Nicholas Brown, socialite, yachtsman and philanthropist
The Cowsills, a popular 1960s pop/flower power band that had a #2 hit with The Rain, The Park, And Other Things in 1967
Doris Duke, tobacco heiress and philanthropist
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, located his summer White House at Newport
Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.
Paul L. Gaines, first African-American to be elected mayor of a New England city
Kristin Hersh, musician, vocalist for Rhode Island-based band Throwing Muses, 50 Foot Wave and solo artist.
Fleet Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations, 1941–1945
MacGillivray Milne, 27th Governor of American Samoa, 1936–1938
Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 1942–1945; Chief of Naval Operations
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, summer resident and First Lady
Claiborne Pell, socialite and U.S. Senator
Admiral William Sims, commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe 1917–1919
Admiral Raymond Spruance, the victor of Midway and later President, Naval War College
Harold Vanderbilt, yachtsman and bridge player (inventor of contract bridge)
Paul Gordon – keyboardist and guitarist with Goo Goo Dolls, New Radicals, Lisa Marie Presley and currently The B-52's
Joanna Going, Actress
Richard Hatch, first winner of the realty television show Survivor
Richard Saul Wurman, architect, graphic designer and founder of the TED Conferences
Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Senator

Famous residents source: Wikipedia

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