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Promenade at Newport’s Easton’s Beach c. 1899


By 1890, Easton’s was the premier beach for the general citizens of Newport and for its visitors, of which there were many. By that time, vacations were a popular pastime for middle-class Americans, and many flocked to the large hotels and boarding houses built to accommodate them.

Easton’s Beach was a first-class attraction for all. Advertisements and articles in newspapers and brochures described Easton’s as having the “finest surf bathing on the East Coast” with one thousand bath houses to accommodate the people who wanted to change into swimming costumes. There was, however, a strict schedule for bathing at Easton’s Beach. Mixed-sex bathing was allowed from 11 AM to noon, then men’s-only bathing was allowed from noon to 3 PM.

An electric trolley was an easy method of transportation to Easton’s Beach. Its route had various stops in Newport, then travelled to the end of Bath Road (now called Memorial Boulevard). On disembarking from the trolley, beachgoers walked to the pavilion which, by 1903 included restaurants, a petting donkey, a merry-go-round, and a roller coaster.

The Easton’s Beach pavilion and all it contained was destroyed by the Hurricane of 1938. A much smaller structure was built by Newport city workers in the 1940s that featured picnic tables and a small restaurant. While many still refer to the beach as “Easton’s”, most locals now call it “First Beach”, as it is the first (and closest) sandy ocean-front bathing area east of Newport.

An archival image printed on 100% cotton rag paper using the carbon-based Piezography process