It's More Than Just Ocean Drive!

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        In the late 1800s many wealthy New Yorkers escaped to Newport on "Rhode Island" during hot summers. As Newport became more popular and easier to reach with a passenger steamship route [ New York / Fall River Line ] the southern end of Newport expanded with summer escapees from Philadelphia and other summer heat soaked places along the East Coast.

        This summer "neighborhood" emerged when New York families starting around 1850 decided to build "summer cottages" each larger than the other. Along the coastline the predictable cool on-shore breezes from the Atlantic were a delightful treat during the summer ... and Newport's Ten Mile Drive encapsulated this community of "the rich."

        By the time the first Rolls Royces were made, the Ocean Drive segment was a perfect roadway for the wealthy summer crowd to best enjoy the cool onshore breeze while visiting their many friends. At one point an exclusive list... The Top 400 ... was maintained to define the right members of this well connected community.
        Today, Newport's Ten Mile Drive combines that history of a wealthy summer community with a fabulous Newport recreational treasure of public parks and miles of public access shoreline to rank as one of the most popular "drives" in the country. The "Drive" is way more than what you can see in a short and hurried 35 minute car trip over the route. Many of the home owners seek a quiet summer and have gone to great lengths to insure their tranquil settings. Closed gates are very common and trees are strategically allowed to grow in ways that enhance resident privacy.

        Ten Mile Drive bascially has four legs: Brenton Cove Shore, East Passage of Narragansett Bay, Ocean Drive, and Bellevue Ave. The best way to do the drive is starting at Thames St. as you are driving on the water side of the road and drive around to end on Bellevue Ave. going north.

        Brenton Cove Shore's highlight is the current New York Yacht Club which resides in the former John Nicholas Brown Mansion overlooking Newport Harbor. Brown was a former commodore of the NYYC. Obviously driving by on Halidon Ave. is uninspiring as a century ago there were fewer large trees that blocked the landside view. Fortunately this first shoreline leg of the Ten Mile Drive is best viewed from a side trip to Fort Adams. [ See the Green Line on the Google map ] This provides the addional benefit of seeing what may be the best public sailing facility in the county, Sail Newport, in addition to spectacular views of the harbor and East Passage north to Pell Bridge.

       The East Passage of Narragansett Bay has two highlights Hammersmith Farm, the childhood home of President John F. Kennedy's wife Jacqueline [ which used to be open to the public ... but no longer ]; and Castle Hill with it's historic lighthouse.

        The real highlight for Ocean Drive is Brenton Point State Park. Located perfectly at the south end of the island, it faces out into Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The onshore sea breeze provides almost a constant competitive kite flying area, in addition to major visual access to the Ocean. Ocean Drive is about a third of the Ten Mile Drive.

        Bellevue Ave. is where the early huge mansions were built somewhat close to the center of the city. The Breakers and Doris Duke's Rough Point are the highlights for this segment of the drive. Both are open to the public.
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[ Click on the map for a full size 11x17 printable copy of this 1939 print. ]
v.7.15.2015 copyright,, Newport, RI 02840
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