Newport Historical Society

We continue our series One Square Mile: Narragansett Bay with a look at the bay’s role in the slave trade. Tens of thousands of slaves were traded on ships out of Narragansett Bay, more than any other part of North America.

Newport was at one time the largest slave-trading port in the region. To find out more, Rhode Island Public Radio's education reporter Elisabeth Harrison met Newport history teacher Matt Boyle at Bannisters Wharf, which was built by a merchant involved in the slave trade. She asked him what it would have looked like in mid-18th Century.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

We’re launching our series One Square Mile and this time we’re focused on Narragansett Bay. The bay plays an enormous role in making Rhode Island a sailing mecca.

Sail Newport’s Executive Director Brad Read hops on one of the organization’s sailboats and starts pulling the line connected to the main sail. “You picked a perfect day, you couldn’t have asked for a dryer more perfect wind, beautiful blue sky,” said Read. “And you’re here at Sail Newport about to sail on one of our J-22’s.”

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Narragansett Bay has encircled Rhode Island’s history and culture since the colonial era. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay kicks off our One Square Mile series on the bay.

Narragansett Bay was ours before we were Rhode Island. In 1524, the Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazano sailed into the uncharted waters of the bay. He was impressed with what he saw, says Christopher Pastore, a professor at the SUNY at Albany and author of the new book `Between Land and Sea’ a history of the bay.

File / RIPR

One of the developers behind turning Newport Grand into a casino said he’s surprised that Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed has now come out against table games in Newport. Her comments came shortly after Wednesday night’s vote by the Newport City Council to reject a host agreement with developers.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Catherine Welch sits in for Dave, she and Mark talk with the CEO of International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum, Todd Martin. They discuss the Hall of Fame’s expansion and what it’s doing to bring the facility to a global audience.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

It’s pretty rare for top national Republican figures to visit Rhode Island, one of the nation’s deepest blue Democratic states. But Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus swoops into the Ocean State Thursday to scoop some campaign cash.

Priebus is scheduled to appear at a fund-raising event held by Mr. and Mrs. David Ford on Newport’s tony Bellevue Avenue, where the houses have names. (This mansion is called Miramar, at 646 Bellevue).

Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is scheduled to be in Rhode Island Wednesday.  He’ll be speaking at an event at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport.

Hagel will also speak on defense technology and industry at the ‘Defense Innovation Days’.  This conference brings lawmakers and defense industry reps together to discuss changes and trends in the industry.  Rhode Island has long relied on the defense industry for jobs, currently, with several government contracts manufacturing submarines. 

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Lobster fishermen, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Sen. Jack Reed, and other state leaders celebrated the grand opening of a new kitchen facility in Newport on Friday. The Newport Lobster Shack Kitchen, owned and run jointly by commercial lobster fishermen, sells freshly cooked food made directly from lobsters landed at Pier Nine on Long Wharf. 

DEM Director Janet Coit said many state leaders showed up to push a growing local seafood marketing effort in Rhode Island.

Newport Naval Station

The decommissioned USS Saratoga has left the Newport Naval Station. The weather finally cleared for the ship’s departure for 8:45am Thursday.

The Saratoga is heading down the eastern seaboard and around the tip of Florida to Brownsville, Texas where it will be pulled apart for scrap.

The 1950’s aircraft carrier was decommissioned 20 years ago. An effort failed to turn it into a museum and it sat in Newport for sixteen years.

Naval Station spokeswoman Lisa Rama said the Saratoga’s departure has left a hole in the landscape.

File / RIPR

The rising number of casinos in New England that’s hurting the Foxwoods Resort Casino is both a threat to table games in Rhode Island and the reason to add more.

Analyst Clyde Barrow said the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut has been losing millions of dollars since its peak in 2006. To blame: a slow economic recovery and a growing number of casinos in New England.

For some indication of what Sen. Jack Reed’s reelection campaign will look like: Today’s  announcement of top Obama Administration officials who will be visiting Rhode Island in the coming weeks.

On Monday, August 18, Jane Chu, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts will touch down in Pawtucket, Providence and East Providence to meet with non-profit and community leaders and local artists.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

The Newport Jazz Festival kicks off Friday, this is the 60th anniversary of the festival that was first held at the Newport Casino and along Bellevue Avenue.   The festival survived rock and roll and rowdy crowds.

The website Politico reports President Barack Obama is scheduled to be in the resort town on August 29th. 

He's expected to be at a fundraising event in Newport for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 

The site reports that though the president's approval rating remains rather low, he's still a big draw on the fundraising circuit.  As mid-term elections approach, Obama has attended 16 fundraisers this cycle.

Newport Folk Festival Celebrates 55 Years

Jul 25, 2014

The Newport Folk Festival kicks off today.  The 55-year old festival is more popular than ever.

Tickets for the festival sold out even before the full lineup was announced.  A resurgence in the festival’s popularity has been credited to an increasingly diverse collection of artists, and a major social media presence.  The festival is now so popular it’s been expanded to three days.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

The odds of table games coming to Newport, the sale of The Providence Journal, and diversity in the General

Assembly – those are the topics this week on the Political Roundtable with our guest Newport Rep. Marvin Abney and special host Rhode Island Public Radio news director Catherine Welch.