The City in Brief
Founded: 1642 (incorporated 1931)
Head Official: Mayor Scott Avedisian (R) (since 2000)
City Population 1980: 87,123
2004 estimate: 87,683
Percent change, 1990-2000: 0.4%
U.S. rank in 1990: 255th (2nd in state)
U.S. rank in 2000: 328th (2nd in state)
Metropolitan Area Population (Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA)
Percent change, 1990-2000: 4.8%
U.S. rank in 2000: 39th
Area: 20.53 square miles (2000)
Elevation: 64 feet above sea level
Average Annual Temperature: 48.7° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 19 inches rain; 35.5 inches snowfall
Major Economic Sectors: Education and health services, financial services, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (April 2005)
Per Capita Income: $23,410 (1999)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 2,931
Major Colleges and Universities: Community College of Rhode Island, New England Institute of Technology
Daily Newspapers: The Kent County Daily Times
Warwick may at first glance seem ”connected at the hip” to nearby Providence, but the small city has a long, proud history as a colonial outpost, a roost for revolutionary rabble-rousers, and a mecca for manufacturing. Like the rest of Rhode Island, Warwick was founded by independent and free-thinking people seeking a refuge from religious intolerance. What they found in Warwick was a site of transcendental beauty and power, situated on a saltwater bay and fast-flowing rivers. The pioneer qualities that created Warwick have served it well in its evolutionary journey over the decades, as it has transformed from a rough manufacturing town to a sophisticated city attracting financiers and tourists while still appreciating a home-town atmosphere.
Geography and Climate
Warwick is located in central Rhode Island on the northwest end of the Narragansett Bay, a natural harbor to the north of the Rhode Island Sound. Thirty-nine miles of coastline distinguish the city, including the shore along the Providence River that borders the northern and eastern edges of Warwick. Thirty separate villages make up the municipality of Warwick.
The entire state experiences four distinct seasons; the bay moderates the climate, making this area of the state somewhat warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The weather is of the kind described by meteorologists as humid continental. Hurricanes occur every 15 years or so, and hail is infrequent.
Area: 20.53 square miles (2000)
Elevation: 64 feet above sea level
Average Temperatures: January, 28.7° F; July, 73.3° F; annual average, 48.7° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 19 inches rain; 35.5 inches snowfall
Going Its Own Way
Warwick and the rest of Rhode Island started out as part of the western coast of Africa more than 500 million years ago. Tectonic forces gradually moved what is now Rhode Island toward the North American continent where it collided and stuck, creating the Appalachian Mountains in the process. A series of ice ages changed the landscape over time through the approach and retreat of glaciers, which scraped a channel into the land that separated an archipelago from the mainland and filled what is now Narragansett Bay. About 3,000 years after the glaciers cleared out, humans moved in; evidence indicates that people have been living in the greater Warwick area for somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 years. These hunter-gatherers transitioned into the native tribes more familiar today, with the Narragansett (members of the Algonquian tribe) Indians being the primary occupants of the Rhode Island area before Europeans settled the area.
The first European known to have visited the Narragansett Bay area was Giovani Verrazzano, who briefly touched down in the region during an expedition in 1524. Dutch explorer Adriaen Block navigated and mapped the Narra-gansett Bay about 80 years later, and Dutch fur traders followed to capitalize on the abundant resources in the region. Exposure to European-borne diseases began to take a toll on the resident native tribes, and the debilitated Indians started to let go of territories to willing buyers. In 1642, the Narragansett tribe sold the site where Warwick now stands to a group led by Samuel Gorton. Gorton was a man of extreme religious views, and he not only quarreled with authorities in Massachusetts but also with his fellow religious refugees in the newly-formed Rhode Island colony. So, Gorton and his followers found their own corner of Rhode Island, soon to be joined by other independent-minded or persecuted groups.
The state’s reputation as a haven for individualists earned it the nickname ”Rogues Island,” particularly when coupled with Rhode Island’s encouragement of privateering during wartime. Warwick also contributed to the notorious ”Triangular Trade” perpetrated in Newport in which Caribbean molasses was imported to Newport, where it was made into rum that was shipped to Africa to trade for slaves, who were then transported to the Caribbean to be sold for molasses that would make its way back to Newport. Rhode Island remained the leading slave trader of the colonies until a partial ban was placed on importation of slaves in 1774; in 1784, Rhode Island enacted legislation that declared free all children born to slaves in the state, thus gradually emancipating the enforced workers about 55 years before the Civil War.
In the 1760s the Triangular Trade and maritime industries were flourishing along coastal Rhode Island, interesting the British government. A series of laws were enacted to limit the molasses, sugar, and rum trades; Rhode Island entrepreneurs responded by taking to smuggling. British customs officials stepped up enforcement activities, until one particularly aggressive British ship, The Gaspee, ran aground in the Narragansett Bay while chasing smugglers. Warwick locals set fire to the ship as a protest against British interference with the trade of the colonies—this was a seminal event leading up to the American Revolution.
Warwick gave the American War of Independence one of its most noted patriots in Nathanael Greene, who was second in command to General George Washington. With a victory in the War of Independence, the colonies had to figure out how to organize themselves; Rhode Island was the last of the original 13 colonies to ratify the proposed constitution, out of concern for loss of state’s rights and because the dominant Quaker culture was opposed to the compromise it required on the issue of slavery. But sign Rhode Island did, independently deciding to ban slavery over the ensuing five years. Ironically, the cotton mill spurred the area’s industrial revolution in the late 1700s, using materials gained by the back-breaking forced labor of imported Africans.
In spite of the contradiction, Warwick and other towns on water (which functioned then as the primary source of power) built textile and metalworking mills. The War of 1812 and other conflicts made goods from abroad difficult to obtain, making Rhode Island cloth, lace, jewelry and other items the only available in town. Warwick and similar communities benefited from their position near ports that could move their wares up and down the coast. The expansion of railroad systems later in the 1800s facilitated movement of Rhode Island-produced goods to points west. Jobs in the mills pulled in former agricultural workers seeking a better pay-off for their labor and recent immigrants, particularly the Irish, who were looking for work. The incoming homogenous groups created the villages that comprise modern-day Warwick, as they settled in separate communities that retained the flavor of homes far away.
The mid-1800s were a time of prosperity and industrial progress for Warwick and Rhode Island. The Triangular Trade had been replaced by the China Trade, with locally-produced goods such as textiles and crops being traded in Asia for exotic items. Here at home, the country had begun to fracture, however, and Rhode Island was somewhat torn when it came to picking a side. Warwick and a number of other Rhode Island towns had woven themselves wealth and reputation in textile mills supplied by southern, slave-owning plantations. Concurrently, Rhode Island had preemptively abolished slavery and had a large contingent of Quakers pushing for the state to join the Union. When the war commenced in 1861, Rhode Island sided with the blue and again contributed mightily to the war effort, while also seeing a marked increase in need for cloth and worked metal produced in its factories.
A Modern Warwick Emerges
Warwick industry continued to boom after the Civil War; at the same time, the region became more accessible to more people with the development of the automobile and continued expansion of passenger train service. Warwick’s lovely beaches started to generate a buzz as a tourist destination, no doubt assisted by the proximity of Newport and its yachting set. World War I took a toll on the population of Warwick, but local industry received another boost that lasted until the Great Depression hit in the late 1920s. Mills closed abruptly, and displaced workers found themselves building local schools and roads as part of government aid programs.
World War II stimulated the economy again to some extent, and Warwick was back to moderate levels of industrial production and residential construction. T.F. Green Airport was commandeered by the U.S. Army in a move that, along with Newport’s Naval installation, generated a major military presence in the small state that is still felt today. Control of the airfield was returned to the State of Rhode Island in 1946.
The end of the war heralded a significant shift in Warwick— families from the Providence area, attempting to escape the travails of big city life, started to migrate into Warwick, creating a need for expanded infrastructure, housing, and schools. Retail trade gradually began to develop into the fastest growing economic sector; the Midland Mall (now called the Rhode Island Mall) and the Warwick Mall put Warwick on the map and attracted shoppers from across the New England region.
After enduring a series of natural disasters—hurricanes in 1954 and 1955, and a record snowfall in 1978 that shut down the city for several days—Warwick continues to hum along, not to the sound of factories and mills but to the whir of cash registers at the largest malls in the state. Even more than the siren call of good shopping deals, visitors and new residents are drawn to Warwick by the water, the ebb and flow of which reflect the history of this tough, adaptable town.
Historical Information: Warwick Historical Society, 25 Roger Williams Circle, Warwick, RI 02888; telephone (401)467-7447. Rhode Island Historical Society, 121 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906; telephone (401)273-8107
Metropolitan Area Residents (MSA)
Percent change, 1990-2000: 4.8%
U.S. rank in 2000: 39th
2004 estimate: 87,683
Percent change, 1990-2000: 0.4%
U.S. rank in 1990: 255th (2nd in state)
U.S. rank in 2000: 328th (2nd in state)
Density: 2,417.2 people per square mile (2000)
Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)
Black or African American: 996
American Indian and Alaskan Native: 213
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 15
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 1,372
Percent of residents born in state: 75.8% (2000)
Age characteristics: (2000)
Population under 5 years old: 4,640
Population 5 to 9 years old: 5,222
Population 10 to 14 years old: 5,670
Population 15 to 19 years old: 4,958
Population 20 to 24 years old: 4,074
Population 25 to 34 years old: 10,994
Population 35 to 44 years old: 14,804
Population 45 to 54 years old: 12,738
Population 55 to 59 years old: 4,583
Population 60 to 64 years old: 3,567
Population 65 to 74 years old: 7,101
Population 75 to 84 years old: 5,629
Population 85 years and over: 1,828
Median age: 40 years
Total number: 917
Total number: 961 (of which, 6 were infants under the age of 1 year)
Money income (1999)
Per capita income: $23,410
Median household income: $46,483
Total households: 35,517
Number of households with income of . . .
less than $10,000: 2,441
$10,000 to $14,999: 2,197
$15,000 to $24,999: 3,997
$25,000 to $34,999: 4,332
$35,000 to $49,999: 6,234
$50,000 to $74,999: 8,349
$75,000 to $99,999: 4,326
$100,000 to $149,999: 2,651
$150,000 to $199,999: 528
$200,000 or more: 488
Percent of families below poverty level: 13.7% (15% of which were female householder families with children under 5 years)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 2,931
The city of Warwick functions under the mayor-council form of government, with nine council members elected by and representing the nine city wards. Elections for both the mayor and council members are held every November in even-numbered years, making terms in office two years in duration. The mayor is elected by the general populace of Warwick.
Head Official: Mayor Scott Avedisian (R) (since 2000; current term expires 2006)
Total Number of City Employees: 900 (2005)
City Information: City of Warwick, Warwick City Hall, 3275 Post Road, Warwick, RI 02886; telephone (401)738-2000
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Warwick is one of Rhode Island’s major manufacturing zones, home to textile factories, metal fabrication centers, and electronic plants. However, Rhode Island’s retail trade industry has increasingly centered in Warwick and the city has become more of a bedroom community for Providence workers. As the city moves into the twenty-first century, finance and high-tech industries are gaining a foothold and appear, along with tourism, to be the wave of the future in Warwick.
In 1996, the nonprofit Central Rhode Island Development Corporation (CRIDCO) was formed to counter downsizing in the local defense industry. The Corporation is dedicated not just to the support of existing manufacturers and industries, but also to the identification and attraction of growth-oriented industries. To this end, CRIDCO offers a Manufacturers Roundtable, during which business owners can discuss strategies, brainstorm problems, and develop joint projects. The Food Manufacturers Network brings together local food producers to cut costs by sharing resources and consult with experts in the field. CRIDCO is in the process of creating a Hi-Tec/Bio-Tec Network that will provide support for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Items and goods produced: Diecast machinery and tools; human resource, finance, and inventory control software technology; jewelry; seafood
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
Both the city of Warwick and the state of Rhode Island are invested in attracting and keeping viable businesses, with a particular emphasis on companies that are doing international business or who are in the high-tech industry.
Local programs—The municipal government offers the Warwick Export Development Program as a support for businesses that are engaging or would like to engage in international trade. Services included are an international trade data network, seminars, consulting reports, and a global link program. The U.S. Small Business Administration has housed local Small Business Development Centers within chambers of commerce across Rhode Island. The Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce in Warwick assists businesses in accessing capital, provides professional development workshops, helps with marketing strategies, and coordinates trade shows.
State programs—Rhode Island provides a corporate income tax rate reduction for those firms increasing employment. Manufacturers and trade service firms paying above average wages or investing significantly in work training are able to take a 10 percent credit on purchased or leased equipment. Businesses may also take a significant credit for expenses for approved job training programs. Creativity is rewarded by income tax exemption for writers and artists who sell their works. Research and development activities may also be eligible for tax credits under a variety ofprograms administered by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. Restoration of historic buildings as businesses or residences may qualify for tax breaks, as may businesses located in certified mill buildings. Other state programs offer benefits to businesses that provide adult education, that create apprenticeship opportunities, or that are engaged in manufacturing, particularly within the areas of defense, medical instruments, or pharmaceuticals.
Job training programs—The Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training provides employers and small businesses with counseling and direct access to federal and state training, labor market information, recruitment and skills enhancement programs, and grants. The state additionally coordinates services to dislocated workers, foreign workers, youth who wish to be employed, and military veterans. The state maintains a large database of available jobs for those seeking employment. The Workforce Partnership of Greater Rhode Island supports the Department of Labor & Training by assisting businesses and industries in grant writing, goal-setting, job fair coordination, creation of school-to-work linkages, and employee training to address critical skill shortages.
The Tech Collective marshals the resources of high-tech companies and educational institutions across the state of Rhode Island, in an effort to provide workforce development in support of technology businesses. In the Warwick area, the nonprofit agency has partnered with the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and the Warwick Career and Technical Center to coordinate programs such as the Groundhog Job Shadow Day, technology partnerships that train workers in innovative industries such as bio-manufacturing, a Grrl Tech program that encourages young women to enter and remain in the field, and Principal for a Day, in which a business or civic leader has the opportunity to get to know a local school.
Among other services, the Central Rhode Island Development Corporation also offers training assistance for the local workforce.
In 2004 the state of Rhode Island received $856,000 in federal money to create a wireless communication system to increase security of ports in the Narragansett Bay area. The U.S. Department of Homeland Defense supplied the funds, and Lockheed-Martin acted as consultant in the design of the project, which ultimately will employ video cameras, text messaging, and voice communication capabilities linked with motion, biochemical, and underwater sensors. Once complete, the system could serve as a model for other ports across the nation.
T.F. Green State Airport handles the bulk of passenger air travel in Rhode Island and the number of people passing through its gates is expected to double within the next 20 years. As a result, airport authorities have formulated a 20-year master plan that identifies facilities necessary for the airfield to remain in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration. The master plan lists an expanded terminal with twice the current capacity, a new 500-foot main runway, a new parallel runway, additional terminal road access, and enhanced parking structures. The plan is not without its detractors—a Concerned Airport Neighbors group has been involved in public meetings regarding noise issues, and an environmental impact study is being conducted to determine how the proposed expansions will affect wetlands and traditional tribal grounds in the path of construction.
The Rocky Point Amusement Park gave Warwick thrills since original developer Captain William Winslow began to add attractions in 1847. Over time, the park saw a virtual parade of carnival acts and rides, including roller coasters, houses of horror, flumes, and a saltwater pool. The park was decimated by a hurricane in 1938 and was rebuilt, only to face closure in the 1990s. Now, the site is being reborn via an ambitious redevelopment project to build a resort that will incorporate some of the amusement park’s entertainment aspects. The project will cost an estimated $175 million and will include a holistic healing center, a tribute to Rocky Point Amusement Park, a retail mall, an artist village, ”A Taste of Rhode Island” cuisine center, an amphitheater, a hiking trail system, and other features. Planning and discussion have been ongoing since 2003, and construction was expected to be complete in summer of 2007.
T.F. Green Airport in the Warwick/Providence area offers some shipping resources, with airlines such as Continental, American and United onsite. Boston’s Logan International Airport is approximately 70 minutes from Warwick and provides access to a number of national and international cargo carriers. On an annual basis, Logan moves more than 364,000 metric tons of cargo and mail. The airport is part of Foreign Trade Zone #27, allowing for temporary storage of imported goods that are exempt from full U.S. Customs scrutiny. For water transport, Warwick is only minutes away from the Port of Providence, which has been increased to a 40-foot depth in order to accommodate medium and deep-draft vessels. The Port can handle any type of cargo, has approximately 300,000 square feet of warehouse capacity, and offers 25 wharves and docks.
Located at the center of the state’s superhighway system, Warwick is a hub for ground transportation of goods. Inter-states 95 and 295 serve as the primary access to and from the Warwick area. A number of over-the-road freight transporters operate in the Warwick-Providence area. The United Parcel Service maintains a huge presence in Warwick and is one of the area’s largest employers. The Providence & Worcester Railroad hauls cargo regionally, with a focus on waste and scrap and the capacity to carry stone, chemicals, and fabricated materials.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Warwick’s population tends to be educated, a little older on average, and more experienced vocationally as a result. The 2000 U.S. census reported that 85 percent of Warwick residents had earned a high school diploma or its equivalent, while more than a quarter of the citizens went on to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher. Statewide, it is anticipated that overall employment will increase by 11.5 percent by the year 2012, with significant gains in construction, professional and technical services, healthcare and social assistance, leisure and recreation businesses, and accommodation and food service industries. It is anticipated that manufacturing jobs will fall by approximately 13.5 percent by 2012, the only employment sector in which there are projected losses.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA metropolitan statistical 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
information: 11,700 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 government: 74,900
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.45 (April 2005)
Unemployment rate: 4.8% (April 2005)
Largest employers Number of employees (2004)
Kent Memorial Hospital 2,300
Citizens Bank Warwick Call Center 1,000
United Parcel Service 1,000
Metropolitan Life Insurance 950
City of Warwick 900
Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc. 840
Community College of Rhode Island 687
J.C. Penney Co., Inc. 550
Kenney Manufacturing Company 550
Metlife Auto and Home Insurance 500
Autocenter Imports (Inskip) 350
Cost of Living
In a small state like Rhode Island, housing is at a premium and housing costs reflect that scarcity. The local legislature is continually under pressure to reduce the amount of property taxes that are paid in Rhode Island. When combined with salaries that aren’t significantly higher than other states across the nation, it would appear that Warwick has a relatively high cost of living.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $472,818 (Providence, RI)
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 127.7 (U.S. average = 100.0) (Providence metro)
State income tax rate: 3.75% to 9.9%
State sales tax rate: 7%
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: None
Property tax rate: $14.81 per $1,000 assessed market value
Economic Information: Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, 3288 Post Road, Warwick, RI 02886; telephone (401)732-1100. Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, One West Exchange Street, Providence, RI; telephone (401)222-2601
Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
Warwick Public Schools (WPS) expresses in its mission statement its desire to create individualized learning experiences for its diverse students while preparing them for the higher-tech workplace of today. The school district has cultivated relationships with institutions of higher learning in an effort to facilitate the transition from high school to college, and the district has additionally created the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center as a resource for both preparing students in grades 10 through 12 for college coursework as well as providing students with skills that will serve them well immediately in employment. In total, WPS graduated 93 percent of its students in 2003.
Warwick Public Schools also administers an Adult Learning Center that is housed at the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center facility. The center offers GED preparation, English as a Second Language instruction, and vocational training for adult learners.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Warwick public schools as of the 2004-2005 school year.
Total enrollment: 11,993
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 20
junior high schools: 3
high schools: 3
Student teacher ratio: 13:1
Teacher salaries minimum: $31,025
Funding per pupil: $11,132
Five private Catholic schools and three independent private schools operate in the Warwick area, along with one school for students of all ages with special needs. The J. Arthur Trudeau Center provides respite care, case management, an applied behavior analysis program for children with autism, vocational skills training, community support service, and home-based therapy for clients.
Public Schools Information: Warwick Public Schools, 34 Warwick Lake Avenue, Warwick, RI 02889; telephone (401)734-3000
Colleges and Universities
The main campus of the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) is located in Warwick, operating as a public two-year institution of higher education that offers associate’s degrees and certifications in nursing, legal studies, computer science, chemistry, dental health, foreign languages and cultures, mathematics, and more. Most credits can be transferred to a four-year university if desired. CCRI enrolls approximately 16,000 students per year and has a faculty of 300. The New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) in Warwick was founded in 1940; during the past 60-some years, technology has progressed at astonishing speed, and NEIT is designed to assist students in keeping up the pace. The private, nonprofit institution offers bachelor’s of science and associate’s degrees in 29 programs including mechanical engineering, architectural building engineering, programming technology, interior design, digital recording arts, software engineering, video and radio production, and business management technology. NEIT strongly emphasizes practical application of theoretical concepts as its primary teaching strategy.
Nearby Providence, Rhode Island, is home to a number of vocational schools, community colleges, and universities, including Johnson & Wales, a private nonprofit institution with a student body of 16,084 and 58 undergraduate degree programs. Associate’s and bachelor’s degrees can be obtained in business, technology, education, and hospitality. The culinary arts program at J & W is renowned for turning out chefs such as Emeril Lagasse of Food Network fame. The university also offers graduate programs such as a Masters in the Art of Teaching, a Doctorate in Education, and a Masters in Business Administration. Brown University in Providence enrolls 7,595 students in undergraduate and graduate degree programs as well as its medical school. The Rhode Island School of Design, a private art and design institution, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in 18 disciplines such as apparel design, ceramics, photography, sculpture, and furniture design. Providence is also home to several schools focusing on the medical professions of radiology, sonography, nuclear medicine, and nursing.
Libraries and Research Centers
The Warwick Public Library contains approximately 200,000 texts, more than 8,000 audio-visual materials, and more than 500 periodic subscriptions. The central library branch is located on Sandy Lane, and three branch libraries are situated in Warwick villages such as Apponaug. The library coordinates story hours and children’s activities throughout the year. Located in another of Warwick’s many villages, the Pontiac Free Library offers 20,000 topics, 500 audio-visual materials and 50 subscriptions to its public. The Free Library has been serving Pontiac and surrounding villages since 1884; programming now includes storytelling for children, summer reading challenges, and a topic discussion group. The modern library offers patrons internet access.
The Warwick campus of the Community College of Rhode Island has access to more than 100,000 volumes and 600 periodicals through the interlibrary loan system, which allows students at one campus to borrow materials from other campuses. Specialized collections include Academy Award-winning movies from 1990 to the present.
Brown University in Providence coordinates a library system containing more than six million items. Humanities and social sciences resources are located in the university’s John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, while medical students conduct their literature reviews in the Sciences Library. Special collections, such as rare topics and Americana, are housed in the John Hay and John Carter Brown Libraries. The university received $110 million in research dollars during fiscal year 2003, funding projects through NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Departments of Defense and Energy, to name a few. Increased lab space, completed in 2004, has enhanced the university’s ability to participate in research in the areas of marine biology, life science, and computational molecular biology. Other specialized libraries are within easy reach of Warwick, with the Health Library at Kent County Hospital, the U.S. Naval War College Library in Newport, and the Rhode Island State Law Library in Providence.
Public Library Information: Warwick Public Library, 600 Sandy Lane, Warwick, RI 02889; telephone (401)739-5440
Kent Hospital in Warwick has been serving the Kent County area since 1951 as an acute care nonprofit medical facility. Expansions over the years have brought the number of licensed beds at the hospital to 359 at present, and a major renovation of the emergency department in 2004 has increased the patient care bays to 46. The hospital’s Women’s Care Center is in the process of remodeling in 2005, with the postpartum rooms being updated with a more homey, welcoming feel. Kent Hospital’s hyperbaric medicine chamber is a resource for all of southeastern New England for the treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning. The hospital additionally provides extended coronary care, wound recovery treatment, oncology and chemotherapy services, and diagnostic imaging.
The Visiting Nurse Association of Care New England provides home healthcare options such as preventive, short-term, chronic, and terminal care. Nutritional consultation, occupational and physical therapy, spiritual counseling, and respite services are available along with general nursing attention to patients’ medical issues. Warwick is also served by two walk-in medical clinics, a variety of specialists, several veterinary practices, and a range of alternative healthcare providers including acupuncturists, massage therapists, reflexologists, and naturopaths.
The Kent Center in Warwick coordinates outpatient, day treatment and partial hospitalization for the treatment of alcoholism and substance abuse. The program accepts adolescent and adult clients from a variety of referral sources and specializes in treatment of dually diagnosed clients.
Each of Warwick’s 30 distinctive villages has something to offer the sightseer—historic Pawtuxet Village is the oldest in New England and was home to the rabble-rousers who burned the British customs ship, The Gaspee, at the start of the American Revolutionary War. Pawtuxet also served as a stop on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves prior to and during the Civil War. Warwick City Park is located in the Buttonwoods district, with more than 120 acres of nature trails, beaches, and bike routes. Buttonwoods beaches hosted parties in the 1800s that made New England clambakes popular. The Oakland Beach neighborhood provides access to more beaches and seashore activities, while the Conimicut Village features Conimicut Point Park and Lighthouse. The lighthouse is still operational and in use, thus not open to the public; however, it remains a picturesque and historical structure in a wild and beautiful setting. Apponaug Village once abutted the western wilderness beyond the original Warwick settlement but now is considered the downtown and houses the Victorian-era Warwick City Hall with its six-story clock tower. The Warwick Museum is located in Apponaug as well, with historical exhibitions and displays arranged in the circa-1912 Kentish Artillery Armory building which was built with two wall openings for its Revolutionary War-era cannons.
The Warwick Neck Lighthouse is the last traditional lighthouse built in Rhode Island. Located at the bottom of Warwick Neck, the 1827 lighthouse is still in use today, and also not open to the public. Regardless, its history, dramatic location, and charming exterior continue to attract visitors. The John Waterman Arnold House is a fine example of architecture in the late 1700s; the clapboard house has two stories containing a beehive oven, wall niches in the winding stairwell, a fireplace, and paneled walls. This structure is now home to the Warwick Historical Society.
The Industrial Revolution started spinning at Slater Mill in nearby Pawtucket. A living history museum acknowledges the contribution Samuel Slater made to the manufacturing industry locally when he constructed the first cotton mill in the state. Demonstrations of nineteenth-century water-power, arts, crafts, and gardening take place during daily tours from March through October.
The Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence is the third oldest zoo in the country and now contains a polar bear habitat, a collection of bison, and the Marco Polo Trail. The Trail recreates Marco Polo’s three-year exploration through Asia and combines the zoological experience with history and culture.
The State of Rhode Island has developed a Heritage Trail system that provides sightseers with efficient, educational, and fun routes to follow throughout the state. The Warwick Heritage Trail runs from the upper Narragansett Bay into the western hills of Rhode Island, encompassing a number of the historical sites mentioned above. Trail maps can be obtained from Warwick City Hall. Tours by water can be an excellent way to get the big picture of Warwick and can be arranged for small or large groups.
Arts and Culture
The Warwick Museum of Art in the downtown Apponaug Village coordinates showings by Rhode Island painters, sculptors, photographers, and ceramicists in addition to exhibitions by artists from across the nation and the globe. Performance art shows also are held in the museum, including poetry and prose readings and comedy troupe acts. The Museum School provides art workshops and classes for students of all ages throughout the year. Complements Art Gallery in Warwick offers art consultation services, exhibitions, and art sales to private individuals and corporations.
In nearby Providence, the Water fire exhibit must be seen to be believed. The award-winning ”fire sculpture” consists of 100 bonfires suspended just above the surface of the three rivers that run through downtown, illuminating an expanse of urban public spaces and parks. Fire tenders silently maintain the blazes, dressed all in black for increased drama, and the entire experience is a feast for the senses. The Rhode Island School of Design in Providence is home to an eclectic collection of art ranging from antiquarian times to the contemporary. The nearly 80,000 works are international and are in every variety of media, including sculpture, textiles, painting, and photography.
Also in Providence and recently restored to its original 1928 opulence, the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) was originally a Loew’s Movie Palace and now is home to touring Broadway shows, theatrical offerings of all sorts, current and classical movies, and concerts. The PPAC contains a rare Mighty Wurlitzer organ to accompany screenings of silent films. The Providence Black Repertory Company stages performances year-round at its theatre center, with professional productions that celebrate the creativity and unique view of black theatre in the U.S. The Trinity Repertory Company in Providence produces annual performances of A Christmas Carol and a summer Shakespeare Project, along with seven other shows throughout its season. The Trinity stages its productions in the restored 1917 Majestic Theatre and provides educational outreach programs to local schools.
The Narragansett Bay Chorus makes its home in Providence at the Providence Performing Arts Center, but the group sings throughout Rhode Island and neighboring states. Performances are a capella in the barbershop quartet style. Opera Providence is in its sixth season as a professional-level opera company, staging comic and tragic operas such as Carmen, La Boheme, and Porgy and Bess. Festival Ballet of Providence puts on four performances per season in addition to its annual production of The Nutcracker.
Arts and Culture Information: Providence/Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, One West Exchange Street, Providence, RI 02903; telephone (401)274-1636; toll free (800)233-1636
Festivals and Holidays
BrightNight Providence is the biggest New Years party in Rhode Island, with more than 160 performers such as jugglers, acrobats, musicians, and magicians. At the end of March or in early April, Shawomet Baptist Church’s Easter sunrise services are held at the Warwick Neck Lighthouse. The Warwick area then kicks off summer with frequent clambakes, seafood festivals, and the Gaspee Days Festival, held over the Memorial Day weekend. The colonial history of Pawtuxet and Warwick’s other villages is celebrated with costume contests, fireworks, an arts and crafts fair, reenactment of the burning of The Gaspee, and a golf scramble. The same weekend, Oakland Beach puts on a festival as well. Pawtuxet hosts a Kayak Regatta in mid-June, with prizes awarded in several categories. The June Festival Del Sanchoco in Providence showcases the Latino community in a party centered around a flavorful stew. Recipe competitions, music, booths, crafts, and entertainment make this a family-friendly event. Warwick’s Summer Concert Series is held on Wednesday nights from mid-June through mid-August. Also in mid-August, cinema buffs can cool off in an air-conditioned theater while enjoying the Rhode Island International Film Festival, a six-day juried art show with entries from across the planet in categories such as animated short, documentary, and feature presentations. The festival is accompanied by the Providence Film Festival, which acknowledges local film producers.
Downtown Warwick welcomes fall with the Apponaug Festival, held in the historic village at the center of the city in September, followed by the three-day St. Gregory the Great Parish Festival. Providence welcomes the Halloween season with the Rhode Island International Horror Festival in late October. Short films, documentaries, and scary cinema of all varieties are screened at the Columbus Theatre, with a juried competition among entrants. The Great International Beer Competition and Festival takes place in November; Providence is home to this celebration of the grain, in which more than 50 local, regional, national and international breweries compete for top honors in 10 categories. November is also the month for the Warwick Annual Indoor Powwow, featuring dances, costumes, and foods of the native people who first populated the region. The weekend of Veterans Day features the historical remembrances of the Warwick Heritage Festival.
Sports for the Spectator
Baseball fans may need to commute a short distance to get their fix, but just north of Providence is the home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, a AAA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise. The stars of tomorrow (and sometimes yesterday) play home games at McCoy Stadium. For fans who want to see the baseball stars of today, the 2004 champion Boston Red Sox and storied Fenway Park are a mere 50 miles to the north.
The Providence Bruins compete in minor league hockey in the American Hockey League. An affiliate of the Boston Bruins, the Providence team plays its home games in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Boston Bruins play in the National Hockey League and over the years have featured standout players such as Bobby Orr and Ray Borque, who went on to win the Stanley Cup as part of the Colorado Avalanche. Other professional teams in Boston are the Celtics (NBA basketball), the New England Patriots (NFL football and winners of three recent Superbowls), and the New England Revolution (Major League Soccer).
Brown University in Providence competes in the Ivy League of Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, with men’s and women’s programs in basketball, crew, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, fencing, track, and swimming. Boston’s universities and colleges also sponsor varsity sports.
Sports for the Participant
Warwick boasts 39 miles of coastline and dozens of marinas, making boating one of the major recreational activities. Anchorage is good in Greenwich Cove and Warwick Cove, where sailors can pilot their own vessels, rent a boat, or take instruction. Rental canoes and kayaks can also be obtained for exciting or leisurely outings on the bay or rivers, depending on the section attempted. Many of the city and state parks are excellent spots for fishing, and anglers can either go after marine varieties like swordfish, bluefin tuna, and striped bass or freshwater fish such as black bass, rainbow trout, and yellow perch. Saltwater swimming, surfing and boogie boarding can be enjoyed at Goddard Memorial State Park, Oakland Beach Park, and City Park Beach. For a more leisurely water experience, take a lazy float down the Providence River on a gondola, leaving from Citizens Plaza in Providence.
The City of Warwick coordinates more than 850 acres of recreational facilities, including bike paths, 56 ball fields, 39 tennis courts, 32 basketball courts, 2 ice rinks, 8 parks, 53 playgrounds, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The Mickey Stevens Sports Complex alone houses two bocce courts, two basketball courts, a baseball field, two indoor ice rinks, an indoor pool, six tennis courts, and a jogging track. Local golf courses are located at Goddard State Park (a nine-hole public course), Potowomut Golf Club (an 18-hole private course), the Seaview Country Club (nine holes that are semi-private), and the Warwick Country Club (private course with 18 holes).
Hiking and bird-watching can be had both at Goddard State Park near Warwick and across the Narragansett Bay at the Prudence and Patience Islands Wildlife Management Area in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Shopping and Dining
Warwick has become a retail trade monster, home to two of Rhode Island’s largest malls. The Warwick Mall on Bald Hill Road is anchored by four department stores—Macy’s, JCPenney, Filene’s and Old Navy. An expansive food court and hundreds of national chain shops draw shoppers from throughout the New England region. The somewhat smaller and more discount-oriented Rhode Island Mall next door on Bald Hill Road contains a WalMart and a Kohl’s department store. Pontiac Mills adds a historical touch to the shopping experience—an eclectic mix of shops, boutiques, galleries, antique stores, art dealers, and custom furniture purveyors are now resident in the renovated former textile mill that once housed the Fruit of the Loom company. Pawtuxet Village has also cultivated a quaint feel in its shops, coupled with an unbeatable harbor view. Ann & Hope Outlet Plaza is a Warwick original; opened as the first discount self-service store, Ann & Hope has evolved into a collection of deep-discount retail outlets. Other shopping meccas include Bald Hill Commons, Bald Hill Plaza, CompUSA Plaza, Greenwich Village, Marketplace Center, Summit Square, and Warwick Commons.
Seafood is big in Warwick, both literally and figuratively— chowder houses, fish ‘n’ chips stands, clam shacks, and lobster eateries abound. A local delicacy, the quahog is a large and tasty hard-shell clam that is often featured in Warwick clambakes. As a reflection of Warwick’s immigrant past, a wide menu of ethnic cuisines are served, with an emphasis on Chinese fare and Italian dishes. Restaurant ambience ranges from fast-food sites to fine bistros in upscale settings. Several locally-owned coffeehouses round out the offerings, and a visit to Johnson & Wales’ fine culinary institute in Providence might yield the opportunity to get a foretaste of great chefs to come.
The place for exhibitions and tradeshows is the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence; four halls offer a combined 100,000 square feet of space in which up to 500 booths can be erected. The space can be modified to accommodate small meetings or massive tradeshows as required, and the facility is equipped to handle all related audio-visual needs. In-house catering is available, and a loading dock and parking garage complete the arrangements for large-scale events.
The historic Aldrich Mansion overlooking Narragansett Bay in Warwick offers an elegant alternative meeting site, with a 230-seat capacity and a European cuisine dining. In nearby Cranston, groups from 50 to 2,500 people can participate in meetings, tradeshows, seminars, or social functions at Rho-des-on-the-Pawtuxtet, a ballroom and gazebo that were once part of a resort-class complex of facilities. The ballroom offers 22,000 square feet of flexible space and fine in-house cuisine is available for events.
Approaching the City
T.F. Green State Airport handles more than a million passengers yearly, making it the busiest airfield in Rhode Island. The airport is served by major airlines such as American, Continental, Delta, and United in addition to regional charters. The city of Warwick is in the process of developing plans to build an Amtrak station near the airport. Amtrak currently passes through Warwick and provides passenger rail service. Boston’s Logan International Airport is approximately two hours from Newport and provides access to all points across the country and the globe. In 2003, the airport saw 22,778,495 passengers move through its portals. Travelers coming to Warwick by car primarily access the city via Interstates 95 and 295. Regional bus service is coordinated through the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, and Greyhound Bus Company caters to the national traveler.
Traveling in the City
Warwick was built on a section of land that projects out into Narragansett Bay, and its street grid reflects this with a slight bent to the northeast. Warwick Neck Avenue and Tidewater Drive are two primary north-south arterials within the city center, and state highway 117, Sandy Lane, and Rocky Point Avenue run east-west. Bus service within Warwick is coordinated by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, while the City of Warwick operates the Transwick program, providing rides to residents 55 years of age or older who have a disability or who lack access to other means of transportation. Taxi service is readily available through a menu of providers, and efforts are being made to improve existing bike paths that run along the Washington Secondary rail line from West Warwick, through Warwick, to Cranston. The vision of bike path advocates is to join the Washington Secondary trail with the Blackstone River Bikeway that runs through Providence. The Warwick-East Greenwich Bicycle Network links the north end of Warwick with the southeast village via a system of bike paths.
Newspapers and Magazines
The daily paper serving Warwick and the greater Kent County area is The Kent County Daily Times, which is published Monday through Saturday in West Warwick and provides local, state, national, and international news coverage. Folks in Warwick get their community news from The Warwick Beacon, which is published two times every week and concentrates on local news, sports, entertainment, and events. The Narragansett Times also reports on local news and is published twice a week.
Television and Radio
Television programming is primarily relayed from the Providence area, which is home to a Fox affiliate (WPRI) and an ABC affiliate (WLNE). An NBC affiliate, WJAR, broadcasts out of Cranston. Other networks and cable channels are available through the cable company that serves the Warwick region.
Warwick is served by one Christian AM radio station, WARV; other AM and FM stations in a broad range of formats are accessible via Providence and Boston.
Media Information: The Kent County Times, 1353 Main Street, West Warwick, RI 02893; telephone (401)821-7400
Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. Available www.centralrichamber.com
City of Warwick. Available www.warwickri.gov
Providence/Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available www.pwcvb.com
Rhode Island Convention Center. Available www .riconvention.com
Rhode Island Economic Development. Available www .riedc.com
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. Available www.ripta .com
Rhode Island Tourism Division. Available www.visitrhode island.com
Warwick Public School District. Available www.warwick schools.org