The pretty, East Bay town of Bristol Rhode Island is situated across the Kickemuit river from Barrington. Bristol's pride in its colonial past can be seen in the widow’s peaks in the former trader and ship captain homes that do the waterfront and the town’s quaint central square. It’s colonial heritage is now mixed with suburban middle-class growth and condominium developments sweeping down to the bay shore. Major industries include boat building (and related marine industries), manufacturing, and tourism. The town's school system is united with neighboring Warren, Rhode Island. Prominent communities include Luso-Americans (Portuguese-Americans), mostly Azorean, and Italian-Americans.
The early history of Bristol is associated with the King Philip War. It was within its borders that King Philip maintained his headquarters and plotted his campaign against the white settlers. Perhaps the most noted spot in the town is the place where King Philip was killed in the swamp at the foot of Mount Hope. The war was the single greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth century Puritan New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in the history of European settlement in North America in proportion to the population. In the space of little more than a year, twelve of the region's towns were destroyed and many more damaged, the colony's economy was all but ruined, and its population was decimated, losing one-tenth of all men available for military service. More than half of New England's towns were attacked by Native American warriors.
Bristol was incorporated as part of Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1680. Under royal decree, in 1746 it was transferred to Rhode Island, together with the Towns of Barrington, Tiverton, Little Compton and Cumberland.
Sailing and shipbuilding have played an important role in the life of Bristol since the 17th Century. The historic downtown area contains many fine examples of Colonial and Federal architecture from Bristol's seafaring era. The annual 4th of July parade is the oldest, largest, and most colorful in the nation.
The main campus of Roger Williams University is located on Mount Hope Bay in Bristol, and is one of the few seaside campuses in the northeast.
Bounded by 15 miles of coastline on Narragansett Bay, the town provides facilities for boating, swimming, and fishing. Residents of Bristol enjoy swimming at Beach Terrace, Bristol Highlands, Bristol Narrows, and at the Town Beach. Colt State Park provides a pleasant recess on the west side of the town overlooking Narragansett Bay.
Bristol's geography as a peninsula between Narragansett Bay and Mt. Hope Bay makes its climate more moderate than most New England communities, warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
The town is only a 30-minute drive from both Providence and Newport and 1 1/2 hours from Boston via Route 24.
Town Hall: 10 Court St Bristol, RI 02809
Phone: (401) 253-7000
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