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Narragansett, Rhode Island
The Towers in Narragansett
The Towers in Narragansett
Location of Narragansett in Washington County, Rhode Island
Location of Narragansett in Washington County, Rhode Island
Country United States
State Rhode Island
County Washington
 • Total 37.8 sq mi (97.8 km2)
 • Land 14.1 sq mi (36.6 km2)
 • Water 23.6 sq mi (61.2 km2)
20 ft (6 m)
 • Total 14,532
 • Density 1,028/sq mi (397.0/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
02874 (Saunderstown), 02882 (Narragansett)
Area code(s) 401
FIPS code 44-48340

Narragansett is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 14,532 at the 2020 census. However, during the summer months the town's population more than doubles to near 34,000. The town of Narragansett occupies a narrow strip of land running along the eastern bank of the Pettaquamscutt River to the shore of Narragansett Bay. It was separated from South Kingstown in 1888 and incorporated as a town in 1901.

For geographic and demographic information on the village of Narragansett Pier, which is part of Narragansett, see the article on Narragansett Pier.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 37.8 square miles (98 km2), of which, 14.1 square miles (37 km2) of it is land and 23.6 square miles (61 km2) of it (62.56%) is water.

The following villages and neighborhoods are wholly or partially located in Narragansett: Saunderstown (shared with North Kingstown), South Ferry, Bonnet Shores, Narragansett Pier, Point Judith, Galilee, Great Island, Salt Pond, Mettatuxet, and Jerusalem (shared with South Kingstown).


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,408
1900 1,523 8.2%
1910 1,250 −17.9%
1920 993 −20.6%
1930 1,258 26.7%
1940 1,560 24.0%
1950 2,288 46.7%
1960 3,444 50.5%
1970 7,138 107.3%
1980 12,088 69.3%
1990 14,985 24.0%
2000 16,361 9.2%
2010 15,868 −3.0%
2020 14,532 −8.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 16,361 people, 6,846 households, and 3,847 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,156.5 people per square mile (446.4/km2). There were 9,159 housing units at an average density of 647.4 per square mile (249.9/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.84% White, 0.75% African American, 0.90% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.25% of the population.

There were 6,846 households, out of which 22.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.8% were non-families. Of all households 27.2% were made up of individuals, and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 17.3% under the age of 18, 19.6% from 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $50,363, and the median income for a family was $67,571. Males had a median income of $45,436 versus $31,759 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,194. About 4.9% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.4% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over. In 2010, Narragansett was estimated to have 2,743 people in poverty; college students represented 71% of that group, and in comparison, statewide college students make up only 13.7 percent of the total population in poverty. This large college factor, in a relatively small community, has a profound impact on the overall poverty rate.

From September through May the town is home to many students from the University of Rhode Island located in nearby Kingston.


Scarborough State Beach
Narragansett Bay surf on the rocks
Waves crashing on a rock in the Atlantic Ocean, visible from the Seawall of Narragansett.

Narragansett is known for its summer recreation and beaches. Fishermen's Memorial State Park, located near Galilee, contains a former military fort (Fort Greene) and a campground.

Three beaches in Narragansett that are most famous are:

  • Narragansett Town Beach is located in the center of Narragansett, though it charges a fee—whereas other local (state funded), beaches charge for parking only. Unlike state-funded beaches, it is self-sustaining and is not supported by the tax payers' money. There is a $10.00 charge to park ($15.00 on the weekends/holidays) and a daily $8.00 admission fee to enter onto the beach.
  • Scarborough State Beach: The Scarborough Beach Complex comprises two separate areas, the North and South. Each has a pavilion, showers, 75 picnic tables, boardwalk and observation tower. There is a small fee for parking if a spot on nearby streets can not be found. Parking on nearby streets can result in vehicles being towed (especially during the summer months). This beach sits next to a local sewage treatment plant.
  • Roger Wheeler State Beach and Salty Brine State Beach are both located in Point Judith, which is the southernmost point of Narragansett. Both beaches are protected by the breakwater that protects the port of Galilee. A new pavilion is set to open in summer 2010 with a nominal parking fee.

Places of worship

  • St. Thomas More Church (Roman Catholic)
  • St. Veronica Chapel (Roman Catholic)
  • St. Mary Star of the Sea Church (Roman Catholic)
  • St. Peter By-the-Sea Church (Episcopal)
  • Calvary Bible Church (Nondenominational)
  • First Baptist Church of Narragansett
  • South Ferry Church (Baptist, no regular services)
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint of Narragansett
  • Generation Church (nondenominational)
  • Congregation Beth David (Jewish conservative)

National Register of Historic Places

The Towers, which pass over Ocean Road along Rhode Island Sound, is Narragansett's most famous landmark.

Thirteen different buildings and districts in Narragansett are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

  • Central Street Historic District
  • Druidsdream (1884)
  • Dunmere (1883)
  • Earlscourt Historic District
  • Gardencourt (1888)
  • Gladstone Springhouse and Bottling Plant (1899)
  • Greene Inn (1887)
  • Narragansett Baptist Church (1850)
  • Narragansett Pier Life Saving Station (1888)
  • Ocean Road Historic District
  • Point Judith Lighthouse (1857)
  • Towers Historic District
  • The Towers (1883)

Cultural allusions

  • Narragansett is mentioned in Chapter LI of Theodore Dreiser's The Titan.
  • Several episodes in the television cartoon show Family Guy, which takes place in Rhode Island.
  • In the 1973 movie The Sting, the Narragansett horse race track is one of those mentioned in the background while performing the con for the mob boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw); this track, while well known in the period, was actually in Pawtucket, RI.
  • In the 1993 movie Coneheads, Prymatt Conehead, portrayed by Jane Curtin, receives a fake ID where it is mentioned she was born in Narragansett, RI.
  • Several scenes from the 2000 movie Me, Myself & Irene, starring Jim Carrey, were filmed in the Great Island area of Narragansett.


Top employers

According to Narragansett's 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Town of Narragansett 448
2 University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus 245
3 Stop & Shop 225
4 The Dunes Club 180
5 VNS Home Health Service 150
6 Environmental Protection Agency 160
7 DeWal Industries 120
8 George's of Galilee 100
9 National Marine Fisheries Service 70


Narragansett operates its own Pre-K through 12 educational system with three schools: Narragansett Elementary School, Narragansett Pier Middle School, and Narragansett High School. The Narragansett High School principal, Mr. Daniel F. Warner, was voted the 2008 Principal of the Year. The South County Museum is located within the town. The Narragansett Bay Campus of the University of Rhode Island is located in Narragansett.

Notable people

  • Karen Adams, television news anchor
  • Andy Boss, auto racing driver
  • Geoff Boss, auto racing driver
  • Peter Boss, auto racing driver
  • John Joseph Boylan, Roman Catholic bishop; died in Narragansett
  • Ruth Clifford, silent film actress; lived in Narragasnett
  • David Caprio, attorney and former state representative
  • Frank Caprio, judge and television personality
  • Frank T. Caprio, former state treasurer
  • Alana DiMario, member of the Rhode Island Senate
  • Patrick Doyle, Domino’s Pizza CEO
  • Roberta Dunbar, clubwoman, born Narragansett Pier
  • Joe Faragalli, football player and coach; died in Narragansett
  • Steven Fulop, current mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey
  • John Gardner, farmer and Rhode Island delegate to the Continental Congress (1789)
  • Harriet Lane, acting first lady of the United States for her uncle James Buchanan
  • Donald Lally, former state representative
  • Ted Leo, indie rock musician; lives in Narragansett
  • J. Howard McGrath, former United States attorney general (1949–1952) and governor of Rhode Island (1941–1945); died in Narragansett
  • Christopher Murney, actor
  • Peter Pezzelli, novelist
  • William Russell Sweet, painter and sculptor
  • Jack Zilly, football player; died in Narragansett

See also

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