Providence, Rhode Island
When the Puritans expelled Roger Williams from Massachusetts, he set out to find another place to settle. He stumbled upon a spot at the head of Narragansett Bay, which he immediately named Providence, as a tribute to what he considered ‘God’s merciful providence’. As the capital of the state of Rhode Island, Providence today has become the second largest city in New England and is an important economic and political center.
Also known as the ‘Hive of Industry’, Providence was one of the first cities in the US to industrialize, and even today is known for its flourishing jewelry and silver industry. From the 1950s through the 1980s, Providence was under the control of organized crime and was home to the New England mob. Not surprisingly, the city has the largest population of Italians in the New England area.
Over time, the city began to revive, and local politicians went to great lengths to showcase the city as a center for the arts. In the 1990s it became known as ‘The Renaissance City’, and today it is a thriving cultural hub, home to a host of historic buildings, the Blithewold Mansions, Gardens and Arboretum, the Providence Athenaeum, Trinity Repertory Company and the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.
The Providence River runs through the center of this vibrant city, built around seven hills. A mix of riverside promenades, small business districts, old mills, Victorian houses and modern skyscrapers, the city attracts many settlers. The climate is mostly humid, with cold winters and hot summers. Providence often sees powerful snow storms in the winter and has been known to experience hurricanes.
In addition to being a center of government, Providence is also a major educational center. The Ivy League Brown University, the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, and many other famous institutions are located in the city. In summer, the city hosts WaterFire, an amazing spectacle of at least a hundred bonfires burning on the surface of the three rivers that flow through the city, accompanied by numerous artistic and musical events.
A popular choice of location for many movies and television series, Providence has been home to the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and continues to attract large numbers of people irresistibly drawn to its distinctive Rhode Island character.