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Catboat Sailing on Newport Harbor c. 1895


By the late 1800s, Newport was well into what was called its “Gilded Age”. Wealthy Industrialists were spurred by the bracing ocean air, the relative quaintness of Newport’s town center, and its proximity to Boston, Philadelphia and New York to build their summer “cottages” in the fashionable areas of Bellevue Avenue and Ocean Drive. An editorial in a popular resort magazine hailed Newport as “the fashion queen of all American watering resorts for summer pleasure”.

Of course, the Industrialists enjoyed their enormous yachts during their stay in Newport. Middle-class vacationers and tourists settled for a day in the harbor on a rented catboat.

A catboat, in its simplest form, is a sailboat with a single sail on a single mast, set well forward in the bow (front). Its beam (width) is almost half of its length, making it very stable and easy to sail.

As you see in this photograph, a hardy soul wearing a straw “boater” hat is standing braced against the mast. The wind is up – making it a fine day for a sail in Newport Harbor. Coddington School is to the left of the sail, Newport Congregational Church’s spire is to the right of the mast, and St. Mary’s church spire is on the right edge of the image.

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