Providence is the capital and largest city in Rhode Island. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 178,042, about one sixth the population of the state. Its 2006 estimated metropolitan population is 1,600,856, making it the 37th-largest metropolitan area in the country.
Providence was named by Roger Williams in honor of "God's merciful Providence" in leading him to a place for settlement after he was expelled by the Puritans from Massachusetts. The city was one of the first to industrialize in the United States and was noted for its jewelry and silverware industry. Today, Providence is the economic, cultural, and political hub of Rhode Island. As of 2009 census, its poverty rate was over 22%.
Providence is located at the top of Narragansett Bay, with the Providence River running into the bay through the downtown, where there is the Waterplace Park amphitheater and riverwalk. Constitution Hill (near downtown), College Hill (east of the Providence River), and Federal Hill (west of downtown and New England's largest Italian district) are the most well-known of the city's seven hills.
Providence's has an "in-between" climate: hot summers, cold winters, and high humidity year-round. Its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean keeps Providence, and the rest of the state of Rhode Island, warmer than many inland areas in New England. January is the coldest month with average high temperatures of 37¦ F and average low temperatures of 19¦ F. July is the warmest month with average high temperatures of 82¦ F and average low temperatures of 64¦ F.
Providence receives ample precipitation year-round, with monthly precipitation ranges from a high of 4.43 in. in March to a low of 3.17 in. in July. During the winter months powerful storms known as Nor'easters can cause significant snowfall and blizzard conditions. Though not frequent, Providence's location makes it vulnerable to Atlantic hurricanes.
The newer area of Providence includes the Providence Place Mall (1999), The Westin (1993), GTech (2006), new condominium construction, and Waterplace Park (1994).
The historic part of downtown has many streetscapes that look as they did eighty years ago. Most of the state's tallest buildings are found here. The largest structure, to date, is the art-deco-styled former Industrial Trust Tower, currently the Bank of America Building. By contrast, nearby to it is the second tallest One Financial Center, designed in modern taut-skin cladding, constructed a half century later. Many 19th century merchantile buildings in the Federal and Victorian architectural styles, as well as several post-modern and modernist buildings, are located throughout the Downcity area.
The city's southern waterfront, away from the downcity core, is the location of many oil tanks, a docking station for a ferry boat, a decommissioned Russian submarine, a non-profit sailing center, bars, strip clubs, and power plants.
Much of Providence culture is synonymous with Rhode Island culture including the spoken accent, propensity for coffee, and cuisine. Providence has several ethnic neighborhoods, notably Federal Hill (Italian), Elmwood (Vietnamese), Lower South Providence (Dominican and Liberian), Fox Point (Cape Verdean and Portuguese), The West End (mainly Central American and Dominican) and Smith Hill (mixed -- Irish, Bolivian, Cambodian).
The city gained the reputation as one of the most vibrant and growing LGBT communities in the Northeast. The previous mayor, David Cicilline, won his election running as an openly gay man, making him the first openly gay mayor of a US state capital.
During the summer months, the city regularly hosts WaterFire, an environmental art installation that consists of about 100 bonfires that blaze just above the surface of the three rivers that pass through the middle of downtown Providence. There are multiple Waterfire events that are accompanied by various pieces of classical and world music. The public art displays, most notably sculptures, change on a regular basis. The city is also the home of the Tony winning theater group Trinity Repertory Company and the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Providence is also the home of several performing arts centers such as the Veterans Memorial Auditorium and the Providence Performing Arts Center.
Providence is home to the following institutions of higher learning:
Brown University, an Ivy League university
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), one of the world's top art colleges
Providence College, a Catholic school, one of the top masterÆs level colleges in the northeast United States
Johnson and Wales University, notable for culinary program, considered one of the best such programs in the world
Rhode Island College (a public institution)
Community College of Rhode Island (Providence campus)
University of Rhode Island (Providence campus)
Sites of Interest
The East Side neighborhood of Providence includes the largest contiguous area of National Historic Society-designated buildings in the U.S. featuring many pre-revolutionary houses. Providence is home to the First Baptist Church in America, the oldest Baptist church in the Americas, founded by Roger Williams in 1638. Downcity Providence is home to the fourth largest unsupported dome in the world (the second largest marble dome after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome).
The southern part of the city is home to the famous roadside attraction Nibbles Woodaway (also known as the "Big Blue Bug"), the world's largest termite, as well as Roger Williams Park. The park contains a zoo and the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.
The main art museum is the RISD Museum, which has the 20th largest collection in the country. In addition to the Providence Public Library and its nine branches, the city is home to the Providence Athenµum, which is one of the oldest lending libraries in the world. Edgar Allan Poe, a longtime Providence resident, was a regular fixture there, as was H. P. Lovecraft; both of them influential writers of gothic literature in their time.
In the Media
Providence and the surrounding area have been used as a backdrop for several movies and television series and the city remains invested in bringing filmmakers to its location. The animated television series Family Guy takes place in Quahog, a fictional suburb of Providence and prominently features the most pronounced segment of Providence's skyline several times an episode.
The Farrelly brothers used the city as a backdrop for several of their movies, notably Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary. The movie Outside Providence takes place in Pawtucket, adjacent to Providence.
Health and Medicine
Providence is home to Rhode Island Hospital, one of the largest medical centers in the state. The hospital is located in a complex along I-95 that includes Hasbro Children's Hospital and Women and Infants Hospital. The city is also home to the Roger Williams Medical Center, St. Joseph Hospital For Specialty Care, and The Miriam Hospital, a major teaching affiliate associated with Brown University. A VA medical center is located in Providence.
Providence is served by T. F. Green Airport (PVD), located in nearby Warwick.
Providence Station, located between the Rhode Island State House and the downtown district, is served by Amtrak and MBTA Commuter Rail services, with a commuter rail running to Boston.
I-95 runs from north to south through Providence while I-195 connects the city to eastern Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, including New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Cape Cod. I-295 encircles Providence while RI 146 provides a direct connection with Worcester, Massachusetts. The city has commissioned and begun a long-term project to move I-195 not only for safety reasons, but also to free up land and to reunify the Jewelry District with Downcity Providence, which had been split from one another by the highway.
Kennedy Plaza, in downtown Providence, is a public transportation hub for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA). The majority of the area covered by RIPTA is served by traditional buses. Of particular note is the East Side Trolley Tunnel running under College Hill, the use of which is reserved for RIPTA buses.