During the Gilded Age, Newport became a fashionable place for upper-class families to "see and be seen."
Upper-class entrepreneurs spent at least six weeks each year
at their summer estates. They
traveled to and from the city on weekends to visit their families
and conduct business with their peers. In their absence, their wives assumed the fiscal and social responsibility of running the estates.
coaching, attending clubs, and observing or participating in sports
were all forms of what economist Thorstein Veblen called "conspicuous
A Coaching Party
Coaching, a popular English pastime, came to Newport in full flavor. Coachers paraded their horses, carriages, and well-dressed occupants along Bellevue Avenue. Gentlemen wore riding uniforms and carried women and their escorts on top of the carriages.
Newport's upper-class summer residents favored other leisure activities
that mimicked those of their European counterparts. Fox hunting,
archery, polo, yachting, and lawn tennis were activities that
enabled participants to express their prowess; at the same time,
these sports allowed for emulation.
By the turn of the century, these sports were supplemented by
horse racing, automobile racing, and golf. Numerous clubs
showcased upper-class sports, such as the Newport Racing Association,
the Newport Yacht Club, and the Newport Golf Club.
Women's activities followed a strict daily schedule. Beach bathing
(in full-skirted costumes and black stockings) came first, followed
by Casino concerts, coaching, calling, and attending dinner parties
Upper-class men attended exclusive clubs such as the Reading Room and the
Clambake Club, spent time on their yachts, or participated in
athletics when they were in town.