The City in Brief
Founded: 1636 (incorporated, 1832)
Head Official: Mayor David N. Cicilline (D) (since 2003)
2003 estimate: 176,365
Percent change, 1990-2000: 8.3%
U.S. rank in 1980: 99th
U.S. rank in 1990: 110th (State rank: 1st)
U.S. rank in 2000: 119th (State rank: 1st)
Metropolitan Area Population (PMSA)
Percent change, 1990-2000: 4.8%
U.S. rank in 1980: 41st (CMSA)
U.S. rank in 1990: 35th (CMSA)
U.S. rank in 2000: 40th (CMSA)
Area: 18.5 square miles (2000)
Elevation: 80 feet above sea level
Average Annual Temperature: 51.1° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 46.45 inches total; 36.0 inches snowfall
Major Economic Sectors: Health care, information, manufacturing, tourism, wholesale and retail trade, services Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (May 2005) Per Capita Income: $15,525 (1999)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 12,478
Major Colleges and Universities: Brown University; Rhode Island School of Design; Providence College; Johnson and Wales University; Rhode Island College
Daily Newspaper: The Providence Journal
Providence is the state capital, the largest city in Rhode Island, and one of the first cities established in America. Once a seafaring and trading town, the city has survived the economic decline that began after World War II to become one of New England’s major commercial, financial, and industrial centers as well as one of the largest jewelry manufacturers in the country. A relaxed and cosmopolitan city, Providence in recent years turned two rivers back to their natural courses and created a riverwalk and a downtown park called Waterplace.
Geography and Climate
Providence is located at the head of Narragansett Bay on the Providence River near the Atlantic coast. The city is intersected by two rivers and is built on three hills. Summer weather is seasonably warm and tempered by ocean breezes. Spring and autumn are mild and sunny, and winters are moderately cold.
Area: 18.5 square miles (2000)
Elevation: 80 feet above sea level
Average Temperatures: January, 28.7° F; August 71.9° F; annual average, 51.1° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 46.45 inches total; 36.0 inches snowfall
Religious Freedom Establishes Providence
Providence was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, who had been exiled from Massachusetts for his radical espousal of the doctrine of separation of church and state powers. He called his new settlement Providence Plantations, believing that God had guided him there. At the time Providence was the only settlement in America assuring religious freedom and it became a haven for dissenters. The title to the area was secured from the Narragansett tribe, who knew Williams as a friend fluent in their language.
At first Providence developed as an agricultural community, but when the first wharf was built in 1680, the stage was set for its becoming a major commercial center. By 1700 Providence had begun to take part in the lucrative trade in West Indies and African rum, molasses, and slaves, rivaling Newport in this activity. Many taverns were constructed, and townspeople gathered there to voice their increasingly bitter complaints about restrictive British laws. In 1772 a British ship sent to prevent evasion of navigation acts was destroyed at Providence, and on May 4, 1776, two months before the American colonies proclaimed the Declaration of Independence, the Rhode Island Independence Act was signed there. The city was saved from British attack during the American Revolution of the 1770s by a series of forts built along the Providence River.
Following the Revolutionary War, trade with China, led by John Brown and his brothers, contributed greatly to Providence’s prosperity. Huge fortunes were amassed, great mansions were built, and the city flourished socially, culturally, and economically. In 1790 the country’s first water-powered cotton-spinning device was built in nearby Pawtucket and, financed by the Brown brothers, Providence became the center of the nation’s textile industry. The jewelry industry, for which it is known to this day, began in 1794 when a method was discovered of covering cheap metals with precious metals.
State Capital Welcomes Renewal
By the time of the Civil War in 1861, during which Providence enthusiastically favored the Union, industry had replaced commerce as the city’s economic foundation with Providence leading the country in textile and jewelry manufacture. Large numbers of Italian, Swedish, Portuguese, and French-Canadian immigrants arrived to supply labor for shops and mills. Banks, insurance companies, and the coming of the railroad in the latter part of the century supported industrial development. From being one of several Rhode Island capitals since 1663, Providence became the sole capital of the state in 1900.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Providence factories produced war materials, its shipyards built combat and cargo vessels, and the city prospered. These capabilities were again mobilized for World War II in the 1940s. In the 1950s, Hurricanes Carol (1954) and Diane (1955) brought tremendous flooding to the city and state, causing more than $260 million in damage statewide. As many industries moved to the South to defray expenses, the city’s population began to decline from its 1950 high of 248,674 people, and the 1960s saw the economy stagnating. An urban renewal project initiated at that time resulted in the restoration of historic areas and the construction of many new buildings. The blizzard of 1978 brought the city to a standstill, and it took over a week for traffic to be allowed back in downtown Providence. By 1980 the population had dipped to 156,804 people.
In the 1990s, the two rivers that run through downtown Providence were uncovered and moved. In place of the pavement that once buried them, now graceful bridges span streams which are flanked by cobblestone sidewalks. In concert with the construction of the Rhode Island Convention Center, the river relocation project has transformed the city’s downtown.
In recent years, Providence, during its history a leader in agriculture, shipping, and industry, has benefitted greatly from the high-technology boom that originated in Boston. The city is proud that the beginning of the new century sees it securely ensconced as a national leader in its fourth stage of economic development. Recent national surveys have named Providence the second safest city in America, and among the most livable cities. In 2002, David N. Cicilline was elected mayor, and he has the distinction of being the first openly gay mayor of a state capitol.
In his 2005 State of the City Address, Mayor Cicilline said “… the City of Providence can become the jewel of the Northeast. It can become America ‘s first metropolis on a human scale—a cultural and economic force with a personal face. It can be an incubator for the kinds of ideas and innovations that boost economies into the next dimension, yet still be a city of neighborhoods and of families that go back generations. It can be both a hub of opportunity and haven of livability.”
Historical Information: Rhode Island Historical Society, 110 Benevolent St., Providence, RI 02906; telephone (401)331-8575, fax (401)351-0127
Metropolitan Area Residents
Percent change, 1990-2000: 4.8%
U.S. rank in 1980: 41st
U.S. rank in 1990: 36th (CMSA)
U.S. rank in 2000: 40th
2003 estimate: 176,365
Percent change, 1990-2000: 8.3%
U.S. rank in 1980: 99th
U.S. rank in 1990: 110th (State rank: 1st)
U.S. rank in 2000: 119th
Density: 9,401.7 people per square mile (2000)
Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)
Black or African American: 25,243
American Indian and Alaska Native: 1,975
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 270
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 52,146
Percent of residents born in state: 42.8% (2000)
Age characteristics (2000)
Population under 5 years old: 12,607
Population 5 to 9 years old: 13,463
Population 10 to 14 years old: 12,290
Population 15 to 19 years old: 17,957
Population 20 to 24 years old: 21,766
Population 25 to 34 years old: 27,165
Population 35 to 44 years old: 22,570
Population 45 to 54 years old: 17,281
Population 55 to 59 years old: 5,741
Population 60 to 64 years old: 4,623
Population 65 to 74 years old: 8,476
Population 75 to 84 years old: 6,856
Population 85 years and older: 2,823
Median age: 28.1 years
Total number: 8,934
Total number: 3,457 (of which, 28 were infants under the age of 1 year)
Money income (1999)
Per capita income: $15,525
Median household income: $26,867
Total number of households: 62,327
Number of households with income of…
less than $10,000: 13,430
$10,000 to $14,999: 6,173
$15,000 to $24,999: 9,749
$25,000 to $34,999: 7,842
$35,000 to $49,999: 8,704
$50,000 to $74,999: 8,143
$75,000 to $99,999: 3,917
$100,000 to $149,999: 2,312
$150,000 to $199,999: 861
$200,000 or more: 1,196
Percent of families below poverty level: 23.9% (52.1% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 12,478
Providence is the county seat of Providence County, the largest in the state. The mayor and fifteen council members are elected to four-year terms.
Head Official: Mayor David N. Cicilline (D) (since 2003; current term expires January 2007)
Total Number of City Employees: 6,500 (2004)
City Information: Providence City Hall, 25 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI 02903-3215; telephone (401)421-7740
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Providence is a major industrial, commercial, medical, and financial center for New England with an economy based on manufacturing and service enterprises. The city is a major supplier of jewelry and silverware to the United States and Europe. Providence is home to four multibillion-dollar financial concerns and many smaller ones. Tourism and conventions are emerging industries. As the capital of Rhode Island, Providence supports a number of government-related jobs.
Items and goods produced: jewelry, silverware, and related products; electrical equipment, textiles, transportation equipment, fabricated metals, rubber and plastic goods, supplies for the Department of Defense and federal government, machinery, instruments, primary metals
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) serves as a one-stop clearing house for a variety of financing plans and financing agencies to assist enterprises in all phases of economic development. RIEDC is making it easier, faster and more efficient for businesses to access such tools as: financing, permitting and job training assistance; real estate and site location analysis; export and government contract assistance; enterprise zone counseling; information on economic issues and tax incentives; and creative problem-solving.
Local programs—The support services of the Providence Department of Planning and Development include research and feasibility studies; site planning and design review; help in obtaining low-cost financing and other incentives, through federal, state, city and private programs. The Providence Economic Development Corporation administers the
Providence Economic Development corporation Revolving Loan Program, with a choice of rates pegged below the prime rate of interest for a period of 10 years. The Providence Neighborhood Business District Program oversees infrastructure improvements; it also offers market research and planning services for new and existing businesses, and grants for related improvements.
State programs—Rhode Island provides a corporate income tax rate reduction for those firms increasing employment. Manufacturers and traded service firms paying above average wages or investing significantly in work training are able to take a ten percent credit on purchased or leased equipment. Businesses may also take a significant credit for expenses for approved job training programs. The Jobs Development Act permanently reduced companies’ corporate income tax rate. Companies with 100 employees or more receive a quarter-point reduction for every 50 full-time jobs created. Companies with fewer than 100 employees will receive a quarter-point reduction for every 10 jobs created during a three-year period
Rhode Island offers tax credits for investment, new employment, interest, and donations made in areas designated as Enterprise Zones. Two of those zones are situated in the city of Providence. Many enterprise zone benefits extend to those who develop any of the state’s designated historic industrial mill structures or historic preservation areas. Other sectors which have special tax incentives are the financial services, telecommunications, and insurance industries.
Job training programs—Rhode Island has job training tax credits equal to half of a company’s training expenditure, and job training grants that can be customized to the company’s needs. There are also tax credits for apprenticeship programs and adult education classes. Providence/Cranston Job Training, through network centers helps disadvantaged workers find jobs, provides job search skills and job training, and has a summer youth employment program.
Capital Center, the downtown area of Providence, is experiencing a residential building boom, with $1.8 billion in projects either under construction or in the planning stages as of 2005. A new $80 million addition to the Westin hotel broke ground in 2005, consisting of a 31-story tower with 200 hotel rooms and 100 luxury condominiums. The Hotel Dolce Villa boutique hotel—formerly a jewelry manufacturing company—opened in 2005 after a $2 million makeover. Currently under construction is GTECH Holding Corporation’s new 12-story headquarters in Capital Center, downtown Providence, the first new corporate office building to be constructed there since 1988. Waterplace, also begun in 2005, is a $100 million, two-tower condominium project, and will be one of the tallest buildings in Waterplace Park. Capitol Cove, a project also in Capital Center, will consist of 255 high-end apartments in two towers. In 2005, Roger Williams University put its Providence branch up for sale for the booming redevelopment market.
Economic Development Information: Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, One West Exchange Street, Providence, RI 02903; telephone (401)222-2601; fax (401)222-2102. Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, 30 Exchange Terrace, Providence, RI 02903, telephone: (401)521-5000; fax (401)751-2434, email chamber @provchamber.com. City of Providence Department of Planning and Development, 400 Westminster St., Providence, RI 02903; telephone (401)351-4300; email email@example.com
Excellent transportation facilities, including the Port of Providence, New England’s second largest deepwater port and a Foreign Trade Zone, make Providence a major industrial center. The principal waterborne commodities handled at the port are petroleum products, cement, scrap metal, lumber, automobiles, and conventional and containerized general cargo. Theodore Francis Green State Airport, with a new 323,000-square-foot, multilevel terminal, has 15 gates and has incorporated a cargo development facility. Direct trucking service is available to every state, Mexico and most of Canada on a multimillion-dollar highway system. Daily rail service to Rhode Island industrial sites is provided by the Providence & Worcester Railroad, which allows access to the entire United States and Canadian rail systems.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Rhode Island boasts the highest number of trained workers per square mile in the country. The labor force is described as mature, skilled in diverse areas, educated, efficient, and offering high productivity at reasonable wage levels. The fastest-growing occupational groups are professional and technical workers in new and varied industries; opportunities are expanding in the service and financial sectors, as well as in hospitality. Providence looks forward to continued expansion of technological fields.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Providence metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 581,300
Number of workers employed in …
natural resources and mining: 300
trade, transportation and utilities: 102,700
financial activities: 37,200
professional and business services: 60,900
educational and health services: 106,900
leisure and hospitality: 58,900
other services: 26,500
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.37 (2004)
Unemployment rate: 4.3% (May 2005)
Largest employers (2004) Number of employees
Rhode Island Hospital 5,853
Brown University 4,450
U.S. Postal Service 4,000
Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode
Miriam Hospital 1,993
Bank of America/Fleet Bank
(Providence only) 1,725
Roger Williams Medical Center 1,340
Johnson & Wales Uninversity 1,200
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode
Providence Journal Co. 1,100
Cost of Living
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Providence area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $472,818
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 127.7 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: 3.75% to 9.9%, applied only to the Federal Adjusted Gross Income, minus deductions
State sales tax rate: 7%
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: None
Property tax rate: $29.65 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for residential properties, $37.00 for commercial properties.
Economic Information: Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, One West Exchange St., Providence, RI 02903; telephone (401)222-2601; fax (401)222-2102
Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
The overall responsibility for public education in Rhode Island is delegated to the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, consisting of nine members appointed by the mayor. School committees govern local schools, meeting uniform standards set by the board. Providence secondary schools are part of the College Board’s ”Pacesetter” pilot program, which uses the latest consensus by educators on what students should know in mathematics, English, science, Spanish, and world history to develop a curriculum and test for high school students.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Providence public schools as of the 2004-2005 school year.
Total enrollment: 25,742
Number of facilities elementary schools: 22
junior high/middle schools: 6
senior high schools: 7
Student/teacher ratio: 26:1
Teacher salaries minimum: $33,521
Funding per pupil: $11,592
Public Schools Information: Providence School Department, 797 Westminster St., Providence, RI02903; telephone (401)456-9100
Colleges and Universities
Providence is home to seven institutions of higher education and is within 50 miles of dozens more. Brown University, the nation’s seventh oldest college and a member of the Ivy League, is noted for its medical school and its engineering, liberal arts, and science programs; it contains more than 40 academic departments. The Rhode Island School of Design, founded in 1877, offers programs in art, architecture, and design, and it shares a cooperative arrangement with Brown University. Providence College offers liberal arts and science programs under the auspices of the religious order of Dominicans. Johnson and Wales University is noted for its culinary arts program. Technical and career education is provided by New England Institute of Technology and Rhode Island College. Roger Williams University’s continuing education department provides part-time classes for adult learners. The University of Rhode Island’s College of Continuing Education is in Providence, while its main campus is in Kingston.
Libraries and Research Centers
The Providence Public Library, second largest public library in New England, maintains collections on whaling, printing, architecture, Civil War and slavery, ship models, early children’s topics, and Irish and Italian culture. It consists of a main library and 10 branches, with holdings of more than 800,000 items. It is a Patent Depository Library with computer access to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and is also a U.S. and State Documents Depository.
Among the 15 private and public libraries in Providence are those maintained by Brown University, such as the John Carter Brown Library, a center for advanced research in the humanities, and the Annmary Brown Memorial, which exhibits early printed matter. The renovated John Hay Library is the location of most of Brown’s rare topics, manuscripts, special collections, and archives. The Providence Athenaeum, where Edgar Allan Poe courted the woman who later did not become his wife, is a private library built in 1838 to resemble a Greek temple. The Rhode Island Historical Society maintains a library containing printed and graphic materials relating to state history and genealogy. The Rhode Island School of Design Library is an important resource for art, architecture, and design information in the state.
A major center for research activity is Brown University, where research is being carried out in areas such as medicine, sociology, astronomy, political science, and psychology. Rhode Island College studies evaluation and research, and nature conservancy. Medical research is performed by the Veterans Administration Medical Center Research Service and Roger Williams Cancer Center.
Public Library Information: Providence Public Library, 225 Washington St., Providence, RI 02903; telephone (401)455-8000, Fax (401)455-8080
Rhode Island’s largest health care system is Lifespan, which serves as an umbrella for several hospitals and related services. Providence hospitals within Lifespan are Rhode Island Hospital, the Miriam Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and Bradley Hospital. Care New England, the other major network of local hospitals, recently announced its intention to be part of the Lifespan system, pending regulatory approval. Care New England’s Providence partners include Women and Infants’ Hospital and Butler Hospital.
Rhode Island Hospital is the state’s oldest (built in 1863) and largest health care facility. It is the region’s trauma center and referral hospital for complex specialty surgical procedures, including open heart surgery, kidney transplants, and non-invasive procedures performed with the gamma knife— one of only 20 in the world. Hasbro Children’s Hospital, named in recognition of a major financial gift by the Rhode Island-based toy manufacturer, is an 87-bed child- and family-centered pediatric medical facility. HCH is the region’s referral hospital for complex pediatric cases. The Miriam Hospital was founded by the Jewish community in 1926 and is the major teaching affiliate of Brown University. Its research programs include studies in cardiovascular disease, shock and trauma, and behavioral disorders. St. Joseph Health Service, the state’s only Roman Catholic hospital, offers a complete range of acute inpatient and outpatient care, specializing in ambusurgery, orthopedic neurosurgery, and maternity services.
Women and Infants’ Hospital is the eleventh largest hospital in the country for obstetrics, with over 9,700 births in 2003. It is home to several centers for clinical care and research including the Breast Health Center, the Program in Women’s Oncology, and the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology. Butler Hospital is the only psychiatric and substance abuse hospital in the state offering short-term specialty programs for children, adolescents, and adults. In 2004 it was named by US News & World Report as one of the top 30 psychiatric hospitals in the country.
Roger Williams Medical Center is noted for its oncology, bone marrow transplant, and clinical pharmacology research programs. The 220-bed acute-care hospital also operates the Roger Williams-Edgehill Substance Abuse Treatment Center, and has taken its services to the community with affiliations into extended care and assisted living facilities. The U.S. Veterans Medical Center is also located in Providence.
Brown University currently has affiliations with six Providence Hospitals: Rhode Island, Miriam, Bradley, New England Medical Center, Womens and Infants’, and Butler. There is no Brown University-owned hospital.
The Providence River partially separates the commercial district on the west side from the historic district on the eastern bank. A good place to begin a tour of the historic district is at the State Capitol, which stands on Smith Hill overlooking the downtown area. An impressive structure built of Georgian marble, the capitol is surmounted by what is believed to be the second largest self-supported dome in the world. A statue of the Independent Man atop the dome represents Rhode Islanders’ independent spirit. The building contains historic relics, flags, cannons, and a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington. Nearby, the Roger Williams National Memorial contains a Visitor Center featuring exhibits and slides about Williams’s life and the history of Providence. Historic buildings in the area include the Old
State House, the First Baptist Church, where Brown University commencement ceremonies are held, and the Joseph Brown House. Benefit Street, laid out in the 1750s, preserves a mile-long stretch of historic houses in a variety of styles, including John Brown House, considered one of the finest eighteenth-century houses in the country and now the headquarters of the Rhode Island Historical Society. The College Green at Brown University is lined with Colonial and Greek Revival buildings. Market House in Market Square was the focal point of colonial Providence where townspeople gathered to buy produce and exchange news and gossip. The Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum, an impeccably preserved Renaissance Revival mansion, is available for tours on Fridays or by appointment.
West of the downtown area, the 430-acre Victorian-style Roger Williams Park contains a chain of 10 lakes; flower gardens; 9 miles of drives; and a zoo with an aviary, tropical greenhouses, and an African Savannah exhibit. The zoo is the third oldest zoo in the country, and works with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association to protect and breed endangered species, including red wolves and Madagascar lemurs. Juliett 484, a former Soviet cruise missile submarine, is open for tours at Collier Point Park.
Arts and Culture
Providence has been hosting concerts and dramatic performances since 1761. Continuing this tradition, the Providence Performing Arts Center and the Providence Civic Center offer Broadway shows, classical, rock, and pop music concerts, and dance performances throughout the year. The Rhode Island Philharmonic presents concerts throughout the year at Veteran Memorial Auditorium. The nationally acclaimed Trinity Repertory Company, the largest and oldest permanent ensemble in the country and recipient of a Tony award, presents classic and contemporary works at the restored Lederer Theater during a 12-production season. The Providence Performing Arts Center, a former Loews theater built in 1928, hosts touring Broadway productions, music, dance and film programs. Other performing groups include the Festival Ballet, Newgate Theater, the Sandra Gamm-Feinstein Theatre, and the Perishable Theatre, at the AS220 Arts Complex.
The history, architecture, and decorative arts of Rhode Island are interpreted through changing exhibits at the Museum of Rhode Island History, housed in an 1822 Federal mansion. The Museum of Art of the Rhode Island School of Design features a wide-ranging collection of works from ancient to modern times from cultures around the world. The Providence Children’s Museum features hands-on exploration exhibits in a former textile factory in the Jewelry District. The Museum of Natural History and Planetarium Rhode Island Black Heritage Society holds periodic displays on local history and sponsors discovery tours of African American roots in the state. A small collection of American furniture, silverware, and paintings is on display at Pendle-ton House adjacent to the museum. The school also maintains Woods-Gerry Mansion as an example of nineteenth-century residential architecture; exhibit galleries are located on the ground floor. At Brown University, the David Winton Bell Gallery presents permanent and loan exhibits of historical and contemporary art.
Many of the local galleries and museums have banded together to create a monthly event called Gallery Night. A free art trolley loops throughout the city and stops at participating galleries, art shops, and museums for visitors to come and go as they please.
Festivals and Holidays
Gardeners eager for the planting season await the the Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show at the Convention Center in February. Providence begins its festival season with Columbus Day on Federal Hill, celebrating the city’s Italian community. June brings the Festival of Historic Houses, including candlelight house and garden tours, and Convergence X, a week-long celebration of the arts. Also in June is Festival del Sancocho, celebrating Latino culture, music and food. On select evenings throughout the spring and summer, the city’s Water fire exhibit features about 100 ”singing bonfires” mounted along the newly revitalized riverfront in downtown Providence. Burning torches are accompanied by music designed specifically for the display. Volunteers move up and down the river on a small barge rekindling the torches as they burn during the course of an evening’s performance. In August the juried Rhode Island International Film Festival is held in various venues in the area.
In late October or early November is the Great International Beer Competition, held at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Special holiday festivities are held throughout the month of December, culminating in First Night Providence on December 31, a city-wide, family-oriented welcome to the New Year featuring music, art, dance, parades, and fireworks.
Sports for the Spectator
The Providence Civic Center is home to the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins, playing in the Atlantic Division. It is also home to the Providence College Friars basketball team. Rhode Islanders enthusiastically follow the University of Rhode Island, Brown University, and Providence College intercollegiate football and basketball teams. Nearby Pawtucket is the home of the Pawtucket Red Sox Triple-A farm team of baseball’s American League Boston Red Sox. The dogs run year-round at Lincoln Greyhound Park in nearby Lincoln. The Montfgolfier Day Balloon Regatta is held in November.
Sports for the Participant
An abundance of fresh and salt water make Rhode Island and the Providence area a boating, swimming, fishing, and skin diving paradise. More than 60 percent of the state is woodlands and meadows, and Providence itself maintains 104 parks, offering opportunities for camping, picnicking, horseback riding, hiking, bicycling, tennis, and golf. Facilities for winter sports of all kinds are easily accessible from Providence. The Harvard Health Downtown 5-K run is held in October. The Fleet Skating Center, a rink twice the size of the one in New York’s Rockefeller Center in the heart of downtown at Kennedy Plaza, is a 14,000-square-foot year-round outdoor facility which offers both ice-skating and roller-skating, as well as skating lessons.
Shopping and Dining
America’s first enclosed shopping mall, the Arcade, built in 1820, is located in downtown Providence. Cited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as one of the finest commercial buildings in historic American architecture, the three-story Grecian structure offers 40 shops and restaurants. The Providence Place Mall features anchor stores Nordstrom’s, Filene’s, and Lord & Taylor, and houses a food court, a restaurant complex, a 16-screen movie complex, and a 400-seat IMAX theater.
Providence’s Little Italy section is a friendly neighborhood of Italian shops and restaurants. The Davol Square Marketplace, formerly a rubber factory, has been restored and now houses upscale shops and restaurants. The area around the Rhode Island School of Design has grown into a thriving art community. Nearby towns Lincoln, Cranston, and Warwick contain large malls.
Providence’s ethnic tradition is reflected in the wide variety of ethnic restaurants in the city, featuring Italian, Greek, Portuguese, and Chinese cuisines, among others. Because of the city’s proximity to the Atlantic coast, seafood is a local specialty.
Visitor Information: Providence/Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1 Exchange Street, Providence, RI 02903; telephone (401)274-1636. Rhode Island Tourism Division, One West Exchange, Providence, RI 02903; telephone (401)222-2601; toll-free (800)556-2484
The Rhode Island Convention Center offers a total of 365,000 square feet, with 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 20,000-square-foot ballroom, and an additional 17,000 square feet of meeting space. The Center is within walking distance of 1,500 hotel rooms. Five major hotels in the city offer meeting space; a 345-room Westin Hotel offers 17,000 square feet of meeting space, including two ballrooms, and can accommodate groups up to 800 people. Another interesting facility is the Roger Williams Park Casino, a historic preserved social hall, with the park’s bandstand available and a seating capacity of 300.There are dozens of lodging establishments within a short distance of the downtown area. Campus meeting facilities at area colleges are also available.
Convention Information: Providence/Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1 West Exchange Street, Providence, RI 02903; telephone (401)274-1636; toll-free (800)233-1636. Rhode Island Convention Center Authority, telephone (401)458-6000; fax (800)458-6500
Approaching the City
Theodore Francis Green State Airport, 10 miles south of Providence, handles all of Rhode Island’s commercial air traffic. The airport, rebuilt in 1996, is serviced by 12 carriers with more than 200 incoming and outgoing flights daily. Boston’s Logan Airport is also fairly accessible from Providence for international travel. Providence is served by Am-trak on the Regional line, and the Acela high-speed train service connects Providence to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C., stopping in cities along the way. The city is also served by the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail, which travels to Boston’s South Station. Several bus lines provide interstate service. Interstate routes 95,195, and 295 provide easy access by car.
Traveling in the City
The east side of Providence, although hilly, is compact, and walking tours of historic sites are possible. A series of public improvements, completed in 1994 as part of the Capital Center Project, has facilitated the movement of buses, pedestrians, and automobiles in downtown Providence. The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority provides bus service in the city and across the state. The Providence LINK is comprised of two trackless trolley lines, the Green Line and the Gold Line, and connects major attraction and shopping areas. A special way to see the city is by Venetian gondola trip along the Woonasquatucket and Providence rivers, through La Gondola.
Newspapers and Magazines
The city’s principal daily newspaper is The Providence Journal, which is published mornings. Providence Business News, a weekly tabloid, covers business, politics, and the arts in southeastern New England. Other publications include Rhode Island Monthly, the Providence Phoenix, and College Broadcaster. The American Mathematical Society publishes several journals in Providence.
Television and Radio
Television viewers in Providence may choose from five network affiliates, one public broadcasting station, and two independent stations. Cable service is also available. Twelve AM and FM radio stations, including a college station, provide formats ranging from big band music to progressive rock, talk, ethnically-oriented, and public radio programming.
Media Information: The Providence Journal, 75 Fountain Street, Providence, RI 02902; telephone (401)277-7000
City of Providence home page. Available www.providenceri .com
Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. Available www .provchamber.com
Providence Journal. Available www.projo.com
Providence Public Library. Available www.provlib.org
Providence Schools. Available www.providenceschools.org
Providence/Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.providencecvb.com
Waterfire. Available www.waterfire.org