Westerly #24: RI’s Best Communities 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


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Along with her fellow Rhode Island vacation enclaves like New Shoreham and Little Compton, this gracious town draws visitors from around the world to its beautiful beaches. But when the summer passes and the crowds withdraw, what is the year-round quality of life like in this town so far to the corner of Rhode Island it is practically in Connecticut? When you retreat from the storybook style of Watch Hill, what does the entire community of Westerly offer?

For Westerly, the results are looking brighter, according to 2012's assessments, which moved it up 6 spots to #24. This makes good sense, given that this town of just over 22,000 residents had Top 20 rankings in 4 of GoLocal's 6 measures. With a Top 10 finish in Restaurants & Bars and a move up to #14 in Arts & Culture (which includes recreation), that's an appealing combination. All that fun (and the beauty of the town's Atlantic-facing beaches) comes at a price, though: Westerly's Affordability ranking at #37 in 2012 represents a 3 spot drop from 2011, and is the 3rd worst in the state (after Newport and New Shoreham). 

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Westerly by the numbers

Established: 1661
Population: 22,787
Median household income: $57,462
Median housing price: $350,000

2012 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 24
Affordability ranking: 37
Education ranking: 16
Economic condition ranking: 17
Safety ranking: 23
Arts & Culture ranking: 14
Restaurants & Bars ranking: 7

History in a nutshell:

Lying in the southwestern corner of Rhode Island, Westerly has a rich and storied history. It was the first town incorporated in the King’s province and the fifth town in the Rhode Island colony. In 1686, Westerly’s name was changed to Haversham but the original name was restored in 1689. In its early days, Westerly was best known for the granite taken from its quarries to build homes and monuments, including many at Gettysburg and even in the Georgia State House. Today, Westerly is a prime vacation spot mainly due to spectacular Watch Hill and its Victorian architecture.

Famous residents:

Dr. Joshua Babcock, physician, American Revolution general, RI Supreme Court Justice
Samuel Ward, Royal Governor, Chief Justice of RI
Ruth Buzzi, television star and actor
Eddie Sawyer, former major league baseball manager
Dave Stenhouse, former Washington Senators pitcher
Frankie Frisch, player-manager of the St. Louis Cardinals' famous "Gashouse Gang"
Elisson "Tarzan" Brown, marathon runner

Famous residents source: Wikipedia
Photo: Daniel Case

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


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