New Shoreham #36: RI’s Best Communities 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012


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New Shoreham

A true jewel set just 13 miles off Rhode Island's southern shoreline, this charming, still-rustic island draws sailors, beachlovers, and even celebrities to its verdant hills and hollows. And while Block Island may be nearly 10 square miles of heaven to visit, its only town of New Shoreham comes up short as an overall community in which to live year-round. Why? In a word: affordability.

Although generations of Block Islanders have lived and worked in modest homes, the reality is that this sought-after getaway is the least affordable community in all of Rhode Island (this year's median housing price was $1.27 million, nearly double the average from last year's data). That, coupled with a crime rate that reflects a high number of property crimes (New Shoreham ranks in the bottom 3 on GoLocalProv's Safety rankings, at #37), keeps this dream escape from being a realistic alternative for Rhode Islanders.

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New Shoreham did move up a notch to #36 in the 2012 rankings, largely fueled by substantial improvement in its NECAP scores and therefore the town's Education ranking (which moved up 8 spots from a #25 finish in 2011, to #17 in 2012). With Top 20 finishes in both Arts & Culture as well as Restaurants & Bars, New Shoreham is certainly a great place to visit... it's just really too expensive to live there.

New Shoreham by the numbers

Established: 1664
Population: 1,051
Median household income: $75,417
Median housing price: $1,275,000

2012 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 36
Affordability ranking: 39
Education ranking: 17
Economic condition ranking: 2
Safety ranking: 37
Arts & Culture ranking: 17
Restaurants & Bars ranking: 12

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:

William Stringfellow, attorney and radical Anglican theologian
Kenneth Bacon, Department of Defense spokesman who later served as president of Refugees International
Jens Risom, Danish-American furniture designer
Christopher Walken, American actor

Famous residents source: Wikipedia
Photo: Dan Connolly

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


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