media advertised Newport
to people of all classes. Newport gained pride of place in the society
columns of major newspapers. Mass-market magazines described its
fashionable people. Travel guides and guidebooks marketed the picturesque
landscape and the wealth of opportunities for recreation.
The media helped make Newport attractive not only to upper-class families
but to upwardly mobile middle-class families and working-class hopefuls
eager to participate in new forms of leisure.
Modes of Transportation
the late nineteenth century, Newport's remote location helped maintain
its exclusivity. However, as with Cape May, Atlantic City, Coney
Island, and other seaside resorts, public transportation helped
transform Newport into a resort community.
By the turn of the century, railroads, trolleys,
and steamboat lines
brought thousands of visitors to Newport. Inexpensive fares made
it possible for people of all classes to visit there.
Length and Location of Stay
Each July and August, Newport's
upper-class families occupied oceanfront estates along Ochre Point
and Bellevue Avenue. Middle-class families rented
small cottages or stayed in nearby hotels and boarding houses for
less than a month. Working-class families typically took
day trips to Newport that did not require an overnight stay.
of Leisure Activities
To legitimate their claim to upper-class status, Newport's wealthy
families engaged in various forms of conspicuous
consumption. Their behavior became the model to which upwardly
mobile middle-class visitors aspired. In turn, Newport's working-class
visitors sought to emulate the middle class by engaging in similar
and commercial amusements helped democratize American leisure in
the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While
the expense of some sports—yachting and polo, for example—restricted
them to the upper class, audiences of all classes could enjoy the
spectacle of a horse race or a summer game of tennis in Newport.
The Yacht Alva
the early twentieth century, amusements, even in fashionable Newport,
became more commercial to accommodate patrons' desires. Upper-class
leisure included racing automobiles along the beach, middle-class
leisure included carriage rides along Ocean Drive, and working-class
leisure included rides on the merry-go-round and roller coaster
at Easton's Beach.
Relations between Classes
transportation and new forms of leisure opened Newport to all classes,
there mimicked class segregation in industrial cities. Designated
geographic locations divided the social classes in Newport as elsewhere.
Newport became a public resort, tension developed between upper-class
summer residents, middle-class year-round residents and visitors, and working-class residents and visitors.
Summer residents attempted to maintain
their distance from both year-round residents and summer visitors
by restricting access to areas where they lived and socialized.
Year-round residents became resentful of their economic reliance on the summer residents and fought them on matters over which they attempted to exert political or legal control.