Steeped in a rich history that spans three centuries, Bristol, Rhode Island is a quintessential New England waterfront town. The town center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and with its unwavering commitment to preservation, Bristol continues to maintain the picture-perfect charm of a historic port town. The well-preserved waterfront district contains the commercial enterprises, civic buildings, churches, mills, sailors' shacks and slave-traders' mansions that tell the history of Bristol's development since its founding in 1680.
Located on a peninsula between Narragansett and Mount Hope Bays, Bristol is about 12 miles southeast of Providence and 12 miles north of Newport. With a population of 23,000, Bristol is easily accessible from Route 114 or Route 136 via Route 195, and from the Mount Hope Bridge via Route 24.
Bristol was the site of the first battle of King Philip's war in 1675. This was the rebellion by Wampanoag Indians against settlers who bought land from King Philip's late father, Sachem Massasoit. Philip was defeated but his Indian name, Metacom, has been given to one of Bristol's main roads. King Philip made Mount Hope his headquarters. As a result of the war, Plymouth Colony, now part of Massachusetts, retained Bristol lands which were conveyed to the Town's original proprietors, Byfield, Walley, Burton and Oliver in 1680. In 1747, the Town was annexed to Rhode Island.
Bristol holds the distinction of having the oldest, continuous Fourth of July Celebration in America. The Celebration, first held in 1785, was started by Bristolians who actually took part in the Revolutionary War thus welding a permanent tie with our modern Celebrations. Bristol's original fervor in celebrating Independence Day was nurtured by extreme hardships suffered during the Revolution. This fervor continues today as Bristol becomes arguably the most patriotic town in America during the three-week Celebration which culminates in the gala Parade on Independence Day which is watched by over 200,000 enthusiastic people.
Sailing and shipbuilding have played an important role in the life of Bristol since the 17th Century. Today Bristol is the home of several shipbuilding companies that have local and international reputations for quality and workmanship. Included in their portfolio are several America's Cup yachts. In 1995, Bristol became the home of the America's Cup Hall of Fame.
Bristol is the cultural center for Bristol County as it is home to eight fine museums and Roger Williams University. Roger Williams University, located at the southernmost tip of Bristol overlooking Mount Hope Bay, offers a full program of study which includes Liberal Arts, Business, Engineering, Architecture and a School of Law.
Bristol remains a center of history with many handsome homes built in the 1700s and 1800s, some designed by noted architect Russell Warren, gracing the tree-lined streets. Visitors come from far away locations to enjoy Bristol's history, stroll along its waterfront, shop in its many stores and dine in its many fine restaurants.