Where I'm At

A Tourista's View of Westerly

Wilcox Park pond
"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor..."
Ruminating on Ron I
Watch Hill Lighthouse
Street Performers: CCR meets AC/DC
For Rob
What city do you live in? What neighborhood?

We live in the Town of Westerly, Rhode Island. It still thinks of itself as a town though more than 22,000 people live here year round.

We reside in one of the more remote areas almost completely surrounded by marshland and a pond.

What are some adjectives that describe your neighborhood?

Provincial comes to mind because our Town Council often feels the state is such a bother. Picturesque because so many people take such pride in their landscaping that it is truly amazing to drive through here in the spring. "Beachy keen" because Westerly has some gorgeous beaches such as Quonochontaug Beach and the Breachway in Weekapaug, the State and Town Beaches in Misquamicut, and Napatree Point Beach and East Beach in Watch Hill.

How long have you lived there, and what brought you there?

Brenda moved here in 1969 and I followed in 1970.

We both came because the school system had hired us.

What is your favorite thing about this place? Your least favorite?

My favorite is its location on the south coast of New England. Westerly borders Stonington, Connecticut and Fishers Island, New York. Watch Hill has been voted the best sunset in the state.

My least favorite is the arrival of the tourists in the summer as our population doubles along with the traffic.

Do you feel that you belong there?

Well, yes, we've made a life here, but we laugh every now and then because when we moved here one of the natives pointed out to us that even if we lived here the rest of our lives we'd always be "touristas" because we weren't born here.

What is the most common misconception about where you live?

For Rhode Islanders it's the distance. Rhode Island is the smallest state in the Union and Westerly is tucked away in its extreme southwest corner. Those who live in one of the other four counties might have to drive 40 miles to get here, an impossibly long distance for Rhode Islanders to travel. We often hear, "You drove here all the way from Westerly?" in our travels throughout the state.

What is a special fact about your city that you have to live there to know?

Wilcox Park is a gem to behold. Most tourists come for the beaches and never see it, except on the 3rd weekend in June when the Summer Pops entertains 20,000 or more on the park's meadow.

What aspect of your city do you secretly love?

With a few summer days in the 90s and maybe a few winter days in the teens, the mild weather makes this place that much more attractive.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Many Westerly residents have roots in Calabria, which means soupy (soppresata, an Italian sausage) can be found if you know where to dine. Many of their ancestors came as stonecutters to work in the granite quarries during the later 19th and early 20th centuries.

Watch Hill has one of the towns treasured relics, the oldest continuously operating Carousel (1883) in the nation-unless you'd rather believe to other one that claims the same exalted title.

Thanks to Andrew Dutton for the nomination.

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5 responses

  • Bob H

    Bob H gave props (8 Nov 2008):

    Excellent and iinformative essay with great photos. My vote!

  • Robert J Ross

    Robert J Ross gave props (1 May 2009):

    Great job John. Maybe Rhode Islanders won't drive the distance but many others have and will. One of the most beautiful places in New England.

  • Michael Risenhoover

    Michael Risenhoover (Deleted) gave props (15 Jun 2009):

    Very well written and great photos to boot! My vote!

  • Tom Mertens

    Tom Mertens gave props (31 Oct 2009):

    It's got my vote! Great wiriting too!

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (8 Mar 2016):

    Informative and well written with excellent photos...Got my vote!!!

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