Providence, Rhode Island

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Providence is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. Located in Providence County, the city is the second-largest city in New England. The population within the city limits is estimated to be 176,862 as of 2005, and is the anchor of the 35th largest metropolitan population in the country, with an estimated metropolitan area population of 1,622,520, exceeding that of Rhode Island by about 60%.[1]

Providence was named by Roger Williams in honor of "God's merciful Providence" in his finding this spot to settle when expelled by the Puritans from Massachusetts. The city was one of the first cities to industrialize in the United States and was noted for its jewelry and silverware industry. Today, Providence city proper alone is home to eight hospitals and seven institutions of higher learning, causing its economy to be heavily dominated by service-oriented industry and, in recent years, retail. The city was once nicknamed the "Beehive of Industry" and, since the 1990s, "The Renaissance City," though as of 2000 census, its poverty rate was still among the ten highest for cities over 100,000.[2]


Providence's original importance was as a port city, and its early leading families gained their wealth as merchants, ship-brokers, and investors. One of the most successful of these was the Brown family, whose three brothers -- Nicholas, Joseph, and Moses -- all played vital roles in the city's early development. John, the most active of the three, gained considerable wealth from the china trade and the slave trade, as well as shipping (he sold the United States Navy its first vessel, the U.S.S. Providence). His brother Moses, by contrast, was a staunch Abolitionist who eventually converted to Quakerism, The Brown brothers played a significant role in the founding of Brown University in 1764, and Moses Brown later founded a secondary school, the Moses Brown School, which endures to this day.

In the nineteenth century, Providence experienced enormous growth in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. Its situation astride several waterways, among them the Providence River, the Seekonk River, and the Woonasquatucket River, made it an ideal site for water-driven mills. Slater Mill, a few miles north in Pawtucket, is widely regarded as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the United States; after its founding in 1793, many similar enterprises sprung in in Providence. Among these were Atlantic Mills and National and Providence Worsted Mills, the latter of which grew to become one of the largest fabric mills in the nation. At the same time, the central parts of the city became known for the manufacture of machine parts, jewelry, and metal plating.

College and Universities in Providence, Rhode Island

Cultural institutions in Providence, Rhode Island


  1. [ U.S Census Bureau
  2. Poverty 1999 - U.S. Census Brief 2000