Cliff Walk Trail Marker #3
Newport tradition holds that David Priestly Hall built the first Forty Steps in the 1830's so that his children could have access to a beach on his property at the base of the rocky shore.
In 1840, Hall deeded public right of way to the steps to the City of Newport. Over the next several decades Forty Steps became a popular attraction. During the Gilded Age, the spot became a social gathering place for the hired help of the grand estates. Stories of 19th century workers, many of them Irish, dancing jigs to accordion music are a part of Newport’s local history.
Numerous improvements to the steps have been made over the years.
In 1890 the original wooden steps were replaced with an iron stairway, which was then destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938. Presently, Forty Steps is constructed of stone and cement, terminating at a platform above the water. Carved into the steps are the names of individuals who donated to the last major restoration of the steps in 1980.