It's More Than Just Ocean
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
The real highlight for
Ocean Drive is
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
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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