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Mapping the Newport Experience

Welcome to the complex, many layered history of Newport’s streets. Mapping the Newport Experience is a research project documenting the evolution of the city’s urban layout from Colonial settlement to the present day. Through period maps, paintings, illustrations, photographs and literary sources, Architectural Historian John Tschirch examines the history of Newport as an “accidental work of urban art” and the cultural response to its richly layered streetscapes by over three centuries of artists and writers.

This project was funded during the summer and fall of 2016 by a generous independent research grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Support was also given by the Newport Historical Society.

Click here to read the illustrated essay “Mapping the Newport Experience: A History of the City’s Urban Development.”

For the latest project updates, visit the Mapping the Newport Experience Facebook page.

Click here to explore “The members Rose and Received them”: African American Church Membership of Hotel Era Newport. This Story Map was created by Melissa C. Drake, one of NHS’s 2017 Buchanan Burnham Fellows, with significant contributions from Melissa A. Barker, GIS Coordinator, City of Newport. It explores both why the hotel era in Newport is well-situated for further research into the black community, as well as how this research can be combined with mapping technology. Barker geo-mapped Newport residents from the 1850 and 1860 United States Censuses by cross-referencing the censuses with land records, city directories, and historical maps. Drake conducted research in Newport Historical Society’s extensive collection of Newport church records to compile membership information of African American residents that could be paired with the geo-mapped census data.

Image (top): Detail  of the wharves on Newport Harbor. City Atlas of Newport, 1876.
Image (lower): Detail from The Parade, an 1818 painting by an unidentified Hessian artist, NHS 94.4.1