1945 - Present

Nevertheless, after the Second World War Narragansett began to regain some of its vigor and optimism. The U.S. economy and its population boomed in the postwar years. Narragansett benefited too as its permanent residents in 1950 grew by 47% over the prewar total, and then increased again by 50% in 1960. These increases resulted from postwar family formation, plus new and improved roads allowing easier commuting to jobs north of the town.

Narragansett's development was stymied somewhat when another major (category 3) hurricane - the second in 16 years - struck on August 31, 1954. Like its predecessor, Hurricane Carol caused massive property damage and killed 19 statewide.

More ill fortune followed on May 29, 1956, when the Narragansett Pier Casino burned to the ground. Like its predecessor, the "new Casino" had opened as an exclusive club for the socially prominent. Then, as the mores and mobility of the times evolved, the elite tended to center their activities around the more removed Dunes Club and Point Judith Country Club, and the Casino became an unrestricted public facility. Despite the changed circumstances, however, the new Casino played an important role in the town recreationally, particularly in the bleak prohibition and war years of the 1930s and 1940s, when it featured many of the prominent dance bands of the popular swing-music era, providing entertainment for thousands of enthusiastic customers.

Nevertheless, Narragansett persevered. In 1971-1972 the town embarked on an urban renewal project in the central Pier section, replacing some antiquated, fairly dilapidated structures. So far, realization of this plan has been slow, due primarily to adverse economic factors. But, the town remains hopeful for more progress as the nation emerges from the current Great Recession.

In the meantime, Narragansett continues to grow rapidly (population up 660% from 1950 to 2000) as new residents, attracted by the town's splendid natural assets and accessibility to urban centers (30 minutes to Providence or Newport, 90 minutes to Boston, 3 hours to New York City) decide that the town remains a very special kind of place in which to live.

In the north end of town, the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus continues to expand with its celebrated Oceanographic School (featuring its great explorer/educator Professor Robert Ballard, who found the Titanic, and a host of other talented people).

In Point Judith at the south end of town, fishing remains a vital industry in the picturesque port of Galilee, while swimming, surfing, and sunbathing abound in and around the three magnificent state beaches: Scarborough, Roger W. Wheeler, and Salty Brine.

During the first decade of the Twenty-first Century, Narragansett pursued a number of avenues to further its renaissance. Regarding preservation, the town established four historic districts (Central Street, The Towers, Earle's Court, and Ocean Road) to protect the integrity of the many remaining Victorian cottages (including some designed by McKim, Mead & White) and monumental buildings (e.g., Hazard's Castle 1884, St. Peter's Church 1870).

The Towers itself (built 1883-1886), devastated by two fires, battered by three hurricanes, and abused by decades of neglect, serves as a vivid example of the continuing care required in preservation. In return, The Towers has rewarded the town for all the attention bestowed on it by becoming an extremely popular venue for weddings and various other celebrations. Similarly, the town-owned Kinney Bungalow (1899), a historic clubhouse in Point Judith, has attracted a growing trade for celebrations since its recent renovation.

Narragansett has also made more progress in the last decade with respect to conservation. Planning is well under way for a handsome town park in Canonchet Farm, the 160-acre forested area opposite the town beach. Similarly, the recurrent problem of winter storm sand erosion on the beach is being ameliorated. Simultaneously, the two bathhouses are receiving careful treatment: the south pavilion has been refurbished; the north pavilion is undergoing a thorough overhaul.

In the three-and-a-half centuries since the arrival of the English settlers, Narragansett has evolved from a rural farming and fishing community to a dominant tourist economy and now to a suburban categorization (as designated by the state), with significant tourism attributes. Despite the wrenching changes often entailed by these transitions, however, Narragansett remains a very popular place to live in or visit.