With 39 miles of scenic coastline and a central location that provides easy access to just about any Rhode Island destination, Warwick is a great place to visit and to live. Except no one lives there. Ask a Warwick resident where they're from and you are bound to get an exotic and mysterious answer like, "Potowomut," "Conimicut," or "Apponaug." That's because Warwick is a city comprised of more than 30 villages, each with its own identity and rich history.
Warwick was founded in 1642 by Samuel Gorton, a religious rebel who had been banished from Boston, Plymouth, Mass., and Portsmouth, R.I. Gorton purchased the land that became Warwick – and the nearby towns of West Warwick and Coventry - from Narragansett Indian Chief Sachem Miantonomi for 144 fathoms of "wampumpeague" (wampum). In 1648, he was granted a charter by Robert Rich, the Earl of Warwick and Governor and Chief of the Colonies. In gratitude, Gorton changed the name of his settlement from Shawomett to Warwick.
In 1772, a year before the famous Boston Tea Party, Warwick was the scene of the first violent act against the Crown. Local sailors and merchants were tired of having their ships unjustly harassed and detained by the British revenue cutter HMS Gaspee. The loathed ship ran aground and, before the tide could re-float it, the colonists acted. Plotting revenge, they detained the ship's hated commander and then set fire to the Gaspee, burning her to the waterline and causing her powder magazine to explode. Efforts of the Crown to learn the names of the culprits were unsuccessful, although a sizable reward had been offered. Proud of their part in launching a revolution, Warwick residents celebrate Gaspee Days each June, with a parade and re-enactment of the burning of the ship.
Warwick Militiamen fought proudly in the American Revolution, participating in the battles of Montreal, Quebec, Saratoga, Monmouth, Trenton and Rhode Island. They were also present for the surrender at Yorktown.
Abundant supplies of water power enabled Warwick to enter the Industrial Revolution and emerge as a major textile manufacturing center. The "Fruit of the Loom Company" was founded in Warwick at the B.B.& R. Knight Mill on the Pawtuxet River. By the close of the 19th century, Warwick was one of the wealthiest communities in the Rhode Island.
Blessed with a magnificent coastline and many beautiful stretches of beachfront, Warwick became a summer playground for the wealthy during the Gilded Age. Before the Great Depression and the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, more millionaires called Warwick their summer home than any other location in the country.
In 1929, Rhode Island began construction of Hillsgrove State Airport in the center of Warwick. When it was completed, it was called "The Most Modern Airport in the Nation." Now known as Theodore Francis Green International Airport (after a former governor and US Senator), T.F. Green has recently undergone major renovations and offers more than 160 direct flights via major carriers.
Warwick was incorporated as a city in 1931 and elected its first Mayor, Pierce Brereton, in 1932. By the 1950's the textile industry was waning in New England, but the post-war housing boom had begun. The rural farms of Warwick gave way to new homes, as people left the hustle and bustle of the cities for the ease of life in the suburbs.
Warwick is still a great place to live, work and visit, with plenty of dining and entertainment choices. Its stunning ocean vistas draw many tourists and have been featured in the movie "Meet Joe Black," starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins. Easily accessible by plane, train, car and boat, Warwick has earned its title as "the Crossroads of Southern New England."