When the Puritans expelled one Roger Williams from Massachusetts he set out to find another place to settle in. He stumbled upon a location at the head of Narragansett Bay, which he promptly 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 grown into the second largest city in New England and is a major economic and political hub.
Also known as the ‘Beehive of Industry’, Providence was among the earliest U. S. cities to get industrialized, and even today is known for its booming jewelry and silverware industry. From the 1950s to the 1980s Providence was in the grip of organized crime, and home to the New England Mafia. Not surprisingly, the city has the largest population of Italians in the New England area.
Over time the city began to revive, with local politicians making a serious effort to showcase the city as a center for the arts. In the 1990s it began to be known as ‘The Renaissance City’, and is today a thriving cultural center, home to a large number of historic buildings, the Blithewold Mansions, Gardens and Arboretum, the Providence Athenaeum, the 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 mélange of river walks, small commercial districts, old mills, Victorian homes and modern high rises, the city attracts a number of settlers. The climate is mostly humid, with cold winters and hot summers. Providence often sees powerful snowstorms in winter, and is known to experience hurricanes.
Apart from being a center of government, Providence is also a prominent educational hub. 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 above the surface of the three rivers that flow through the city, accompanied by numerous art and music events.
A popular choice of location for many films and television series, Providence has been home to personalities like Edgar Allen Poe, and continues to attract a large number of people irresistibly drawn to its distinctive Rhode Island character.
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