Class and Leisureat America's First ResortNewport, Rhode Island1870-1914

Class Distinctions
Newport was a fashionable resort for upper-class families and a popular destination for middle-class and working-class Americans.
Cornelius Vanderbilt II, George T. Downing, Servants on the Cliff Walk

Upper-Class Newport

Newport's upper-class families included merchants, intellectuals, and newly made millionaires.

Middle-Class Newport
Newport's middle-class residents included architects, businessmen, and the military.

Working-Class Newport
Newport's working-class residents were seasonal workers who supported the summer tourist business.

Conspicuous Consumption
Newport's upper-class families engaged in various forms of public display to legitimate their social status.

Class Segregation
Designated geographic locations divided the social classes in Newport as elsewhere.

Kay Davis, University of Virginia, © 2001