Newport Firsts

  • 1657: Newport operated the first ferry service in the nation.
  • 1673: The White Horse Tavern is built, the oldest tavern building in continuous use in the United States.
  • 1687: Newport was the first city to pass a traffic ordinance.
  • 1699: The Quaker Meeting House is built, Rhode Island’s oldest house of worship.
  • 1716: Schoolhouse in Portsmouth is built, and today is the oldest schoolhouse in the United States.
  •  Newport has the oldest military unit in continuous service under its original charter from 1741.
  • 1745: The Redwood Library & Athenaeum is established, the oldest circulating library in continuous use in the United States.
  • 1750: Newport was the site of the first duplex house, located at 57 Farewell Street.
  • 1758: The Newport Mercury was founded, the oldest newspaper in continuous operation in the United States.
  • 1759: Touro Synagogue built in Newport, the oldest in synagogue the western hemisphere.
  •  1774: Newport hosted the first circus in the country.
  • May 4, 1776: Newport, the colonial capital of Rhode Island, was the first of the thirteen colonies to declare its independence from England.
  • 1781: Newport held the first notable celebration of George Washington’s birthday, hosted by Count De Rochambeau of France.
  • 1803: The first gas-illuminated streetlights in United States were lit on Newport’s Pelham Street.
  • 1819: BankNewport founded, the oldest mutual savings bank in the United States.
  •  1854: The first New York Yacht Club Regatta, the oldest sailing regatta in the country.
  •  1857-1911: Ida Lewis, the first female lighthouse keeper, operated the Lime Rock Light. Her many saves were legendary and she was visited by President Ulysses S. Grant and Vice-President Schuyler Colfax.
  • 1866: Newport was the site of the first public roller skating rink in the United States, housed inside a see-and-be-seen resort hotel, the Atlantic House.
  • 1866: Newport had the first photograph taken by electric light.
  • 1886: Newport was home to the first International Polo Match.
  • 1884: Newport is home to the oldest US Naval War College.
  • 1895: Newport hosted golf’s first Amateur Championship at Newport Country Club.
  • 1895: Newport hosted golf’s first US Open at Newport Country Club.
  • 1895: Newport was home to the first auto race.
  • 1899: Newport was home to the first National Lawn Tennis Championships.
  • 1904: Newport was the site of the first automobile arrest in the country when the offender was charged with driving 15 miles per hour.
  • 1930-1983: The prestigious America’s Cup, the oldest trophy in international sport, was raced in the waters off Newport.
  • 1975: The Cliff Walk became the first designated National Recreation Trail in New England.
  • 1995 and 1996: Newport hosted the first two years of the ESPN X-Games.
  • Newport was the site of the first airplane passenger line in the United states between Newport and New York City.
  • Newport is home to the oldest typewriter in America which can be found at the Newport Historical Society.
  • Trinity Church has the only three-tiered wineglass pulpit in its original location in the United States.
  • Newport has more colonial homes in use than any other location in the United States.

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