Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island
City of Providence
Top: Downtown Providence skyline and the Providence River from the Point Street Bridge; Middle: Federal Hill, University Hall at Brown University, Roger Williams Park, and the First Baptist Church in America; Bottom: WaterFire at Waterplace Park, and the Rhode Island State House.
Top: Downtown Providence skyline and the Providence River from the Point Street Bridge; Middle: Federal Hill, University Hall at Brown University, Roger Williams Park, and the First Baptist Church in America; Bottom: WaterFire at Waterplace Park, and the Rhode Island State House.
Flag of Providence, Rhode Island
Official seal of Providence, Rhode Island
The Creative Capital, the Renaissance City, the Divine City, PVD, Prov
"What Cheer?"[a]
Location in Providence County and the state of Rhode Island.
Location in Providence County and the state of Rhode Island.
Providence is located in Rhode Island
Location within Rhode Island
Providence is located in the United States
Location within the United States
Coordinates: 41°49′25″N 71°25′20″W / 41°49′25″N 71°25′20″W / 41.82361; -71.42222UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
02901–02912, 02918, 02919, 02940
Area code401
FIPS code44-59000[4]
GNIS feature ID1219851[5]

Providence is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island and is one of the oldest cities in the United States.[6] It was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a Reformed Baptist theologian and religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of "God's merciful Providence" which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers. The city is situated at the mouth of the Providence River at the head of Narragansett Bay.

Providence was one of the first cities in the country to industrialize and became noted for its textile manufacturing and subsequent machine tool, jewelry, and silverware industries.[7][8] Today, the city of Providence is home to eight hospitals and seven institutions of higher learning which have shifted the city's economy into service industries, though it still retains some manufacturing activity.

The city is the third most populous city in New England after Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts.


First Baptist Church in America is the oldest Baptist congregation in America. It was founded 1638, though the present building was occupied in 1776.

Providence was settled in June 1636 by Roger Williams and grew into one of the original Thirteen Colonies. Williams was compelled to leave Massachusetts Bay Colony due to his differing religious views, and he and others established Providence Plantations. This settlement merged with others to become the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and it was a refuge for persecuted religious dissenters from the beginning.[9]

Providence Plantations was burned to the ground in March 1676 by the Narragansetts during King Philip's War, despite the good relations between Williams and the sachems with whom the United Colonies of New England were waging war. Later in the year, the Rhode Island legislature formally rebuked the other colonies for provoking the war.[10]

Providence residents were among the first Patriots to spill blood in the lead-up to the American Revolutionary War during the Gaspée Affair of 1772,[9] and Rhode Island was the first of the Thirteen Colonies to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown on May 4, 1776.[11] It was also the last of the Thirteen States to ratify the United States Constitution on May 29, 1790, once assurances were made that a Bill of Rights would become part of the Constitution.[12]

Following the war, Providence was the country's ninth-largest city[b][9] with 7,614 people. The economy shifted from maritime endeavors to manufacturing, in particular machinery, tools, silverware, jewelry, and textiles. By the start of the 20th century, Providence hosted some of the largest manufacturing plants in the country, including Brown & Sharpe, Nicholson File, and Gorham Manufacturing Company.

Market Square was the center of civic life in the 19th Century, and Market House was home to the city council before Providence City Hall was built.[13]

Providence residents ratified a city charter in 1831 as the population passed 17,000.[9] The seat of city government was located in the Market House[14] in Market Square from 1832 to 1878, which was the geographic and social center of the city. The city offices outgrew this building, and the City Council resolved to create a permanent municipal building in 1845.[14] The city offices moved into the Providence City Hall in 1878.

City Hall was built in 1878

Local politics split over slavery during the American Civil War, as many had ties to Southern cotton and the slave trade. Despite ambivalence concerning the war, the number of military volunteers routinely exceeded quota, and the city's manufacturing proved invaluable to the Union. Providence thrived after the war, and waves of immigrants brought the population from 54,595 in 1865 to 175,597 by 1900.[9]

By the early 1900s, Providence was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States.[15] Immigrant labor powered one of the nation's largest industrial manufacturing centers.[15] Providence was a major manufacturer of industrial products, from steam engines to precision tools to silverware, screws, and textiles. Giant companies were based in or near Providence, such as Brown & Sharpe, the Corliss Steam Engine Company, Babcock & Wilcox, the Grinnell Corporation, the Gorham Manufacturing Company, Nicholson File, and the Fruit of the Loom textile company.[15]

From 1975 until 1982, $606 million of local and national community development funds were invested throughout the city. In the 1990s, the city pushed for revitalization, realigning the north-south railroad tracks, removing the huge rail viaduct that separated downtown from the capitol building, uncovering and moving the rivers (which had been covered by paved bridges) to create Waterplace Park and river walks along the rivers' banks, and constructing the Fleet Skating Rink (now the Alex and Ani City Center)[16] and the Providence Place Mall.[9]

Despite new investment, poverty remains an entrenched problem, as it does in all cities. Approximately 27.9 percent of the city population is living below the poverty line.[17] Recent increases in real estate values further exacerbate problems for those at marginal income levels, as Providence had the highest rise in median housing price of any city in the United States from 2004 to 2005.[18]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Providence
አማርኛ: ፕሮቪደንስ
беларуская: Провідэнс
български: Провидънс
brezhoneg: Providence
čeština: Providence
dansk: Providence
Deutsch: Providence
eesti: Providence
euskara: Providence
فارسی: پراویدنس
føroyskt: Providence
한국어: 프로비던스
Bahasa Indonesia: Providence, Rhode Island
íslenska: Providence
italiano: Providence
עברית: פרובידנס
Kapampangan: Providence
Kreyòl ayisyen: Providence (Rod Aylann)
Кыргызча: Провиденс
кырык мары: Провиденс
latviešu: Providensa
lietuvių: Providensas
Ligure: Providence
lumbaart: Providence
नेपाल भाषा: प्रभिदेन्स
norsk: Providence
پنجابی: پروویڈنس
polski: Providence
português: Providence
русский: Провиденс
संस्कृतम्: प्राविडेन्स्
sardu: Providence
shqip: Providence
Simple English: Providence, Rhode Island
ślůnski: Providence
српски / srpski: Провиденс
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Providence, Rhode Island
suomi: Providence
svenska: Providence
татарча/tatarça: Провиденс
українська: Провіденс
Tiếng Việt: Providence, Rhode Island
Volapük: Providence
ייִדיש: פראווידענס
žemaitėška: Provėdensos