Rhode Island -- 07/17/05

Someone left a comment for yesterday's Block Island entry... wondering just where Block Island was located and was I talking about Rhode Island. I guess regular readers know these entries come to you from the smallest state, but I suppose somebody who just popped in might wonder where the action is located... so I though I'd provide a quick Rhode Island geographic reference guide.

So here's a map of Rhode Island -- or, to use its full correct name, The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. (Smallest state but the biggest name.)

Roger Williams and his followers established the first two colonial era settlements here. One of them was on the island marked with an 8 on the map. That is Aquidneck Island, also known as Rhode Island. The story goes that in 1524 the explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano sailed by Narragansett Bay and compared that island to the Isle of Rhodes. (There are other stories, but that is the generally accepted one.) The other settlement was called Providence Plantations (and grew up to become the city of Providence) -- and when they managed to get a royal charter it was for Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Rhode Island is bordered on the west by the state of Connecticut, on the north and the east by Massachusetts, and on the south by the Atlantic Ocean. You may note just how small it really is. At the top it is just a little bit over twenty miles wide. From the top down to the ocean, running down the Connecticut border, is the state's longest dimension and it barely hits 48 miles.

Block Island, 13 miles offshore, is indeed part of Rhode Island. Technically, it is the Town of New Shoreham, complete with its own police department, school system, public library, etc. It is part of Washington County (which makes up about the bottom thirty percent of the mainland part of the state) -- and two things to note about that: (1) nobody calls it Washington County -- everyone calls it South County -- even highway signs point to South County; and (2) counties are essentially meaningless in Rhode Island (except for a few things like the state court system), as in much of New England, outside of cities, the township is the important local government unit. Block Island, by the way, really is small. Once the summer people leave, the year-round staying through the winter population is less than a thousand. (They have a traditional island census taken on a Sunday in February when everyone is supposed to either stop by a certain tavern or ask a neighbor to report in for them, and the count tends to be around 850 people.)

Key to numbers on the map:

1 -- Westerly. A lovely New England village tucked into the southwest corner of the state. When I mention going to see Shakespeare in the park (as I do about this time each year), I'm talking about going to Westerly.

2 -- Charlestown -- I posted some pictures of autumn leaves and waves on Charlestown beach last October.

3 -- Point Judith -- The Block Island Ferry departs from here as does the Southland and a huge number of commercial fishing boats and countless sailboats, cabin cruisers, etc.

4 -- Kingston Station -- the Amtrak railroad station that is at one end of the bike path that I am always writing about biking on or running on.

5 -- Narragansett -- the Narragansett Towers and the Narragansett Town Beach.(hey, that New Year's Day swim is less than six months away!)

6 -- Wickford -- Site of an annual July art festival that I almost always go to but failed to be able to get there this year. Wickford is a idealized New England village, filled with restored 18th and 19th century buildings that are not museums, but are in daily use as residences and as commercial buildings. (Wickford, by the way, is supposed to be John Updike's model for the village of Eastwick in his novel The Witches of Eastwick which was then made into a movie with the same title.)

7 -- Quonsett Point -- Yes, the place the quonsett hut is named after -- now an industrial park and a National Guard air base and the site of an annual air show. Also the departure point for the high speed ferry to Martha's Vineyard.

8 -- Aquidneck Island -- which contains Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth. Middletown is where my office is on those days that I don't work from home. Newport is the site of all of those 19th century robber baron mansions (that they called "cottages") and the Tennis Hall of Fame and the U.S. Naval War College. The dotted line from the mainland shows the bridge route I would take to work, first the bridge from the mainland to Jamestown Island and then the Pell Bridge from Jamestown to Newport.

9 -- T.F.Greene Airport -- airport code PVD -- commonly called Providence airport but it is actually in Warwick. This was the airport I used most of the time when I was doing all of that travel for work.

10 -- When I write about going to see a play at 2nd Story Theatre, this is where it is. Yes, I do wish it were more conveniently located. (Yes, Rhode Islanders think that is a long distance to travel. The joke goes that people from South County need to pack a lunch if they have to drive past Warwick.)

11 -- Tiverton/Little Compton -- this corner of Rhode Island does not touch any of the rest of the state -- it is bordered by Narragansett Bay and by Massachusetts, but its only direct connection to the rest of the state is a bridge to Aquidneck Island. Sakonnet Vineyards (one of five wineries in R.I.) is here.

If you were to continue along the coast to the right (east) you would come to Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket Island, and Cape Code. Boston would be somewhere in the right side of the introductory paragraph of today's entry.

And that's our geography lesson for today....

previous entry

next entry

To list of entries for 2005

To Home (Index) page


Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com