The capital of Rhode Island, Providence was once known as the "Beehive of Industry." Although manufacturing has declined in the community in recent years, the city is becoming increasingly well-known as a center for higher education. Providence is also famous for its blue-ribbon eateries, many of them staffed by graduates of the city's Johnson & Wales University, a school known for its culinary education program. Although the city has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, its many historic buildings and cultural attractions are favorites with tourists.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The leading industries in Providence are educational, health and social services, finance, and manufacturing.
In the education sector, Brown University and Johnson & Wales University are located within Providence's city limits. In the healthcare sector, some of the largest employers include Rhode Island Hospital, the Miram Hospital and the Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. In the private sector, some large employers include Textron Inc., Citizens Financial Group Inc., NTK Holdings, and Nortek Inc.
Providence has an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
The city of Providence has an all-urban population of more than 172,000. The median home price in Providence is slightly higher than the statewide median price.
There are 25 neighborhoods located within Providence's city limits, including:
- Downtown is also called Downcity and it is at the center of Providence. Many financial firms that are based in Providence are housed in the mid-rise buildings in the area. Recent efforts have been made to make this area an arts and entertainment district through the `Downcity Plan.' The city also hopes that this plan will encourage residents to move to the downtown area.
- College Hill is the most affluent area in Providence and its residents make three times the city's median income. Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design are located in College Hill. Thayer Street, a major road in the area, has many cafes, restaurants and shops. Additionally, Prospect Terrace Park is located in this neighborhood with nice views of downtown.
- Hope is a neighborhood in the northern part of the city. It has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the city. In the 1940s, Miriam Hospital moved from West End to Hope and now the hospital occupies two city blocks.
- In addition to these, other neighborhoods within Providence include: Blackstone, Charles, Elmhurst, Elmwood, Federal Hill, Fox Point, Hartford, Lower South Providence, Manton, Mount Hope, Mount Pleasant, Olneyville, Reservoir, Silver Lake, Smith Hill, South Elmwood, Upper South Providence, Valley, Wanskuck, Washington Park, Wayland and West End.
- Roger Williams Zoo: Housed in Roger Williams Park, the Roger Williams Zoo features more than 125 species of animals from all over the globe. This award-winning zoo draws more than 600,000 visitors annually. It also hosts numerous special events throughout the year. The Boston Globe named it the finest zoo in New England in 2008.
- WaterFire: WaterFire is a multi-sensory art installation by artist Barnaby Evans that is a favorite with sightseers. The show is held daily from May through October and features a series of bonfires and music on downtown Providence's three rivers. It has been known to draw crowds of more than 10,000 spectators.
- Providence Children's Museum: The Providence Children's Museum encourages children to learn through play. The museum's exhibits include a Children's Garden; Waterways, a water exploration area with activities for children of all ages; and Play Power, an interactive display that allows children to create as they experiment with cause and effect and sound.
- The First Baptist Church in America: Providence is home to the country's first Baptist church. Founded by Roger Williams in 1638, this historic church is located on College Hill in the city's downtown. The existing meeting house was built in between 1774 and 1775 and is known for its architecture, a mixture of English Georgian with the traditional style of New England meetinghouses.
- Roger Williams Park: Spanning more than 430 acres, Roger Williams Park offers a variety of recreational activities. Park visitors can walk on one of its many paths, enjoy its waterways, or visit its Botanical Center, Carousel Village, or Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.
- Bank of America Skating Center: Located in Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence, the Bank of America Skating Center offers ice skating in a unique urban setting.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art: The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum of Art is home to a permanent collection of more than 80,000 works of art from the ancient to the modern. It also has an extensive collection of costumes and textiles from around the world.
- Trinity Repertory Company: The Tony Award-winning Trinity Repertory Company has been a presence in Providence since 1964. The company performs both classical and contemporary works and is one of the most esteemed regional theaters in the nation.
- Opera Providence: Opera Providence works to promote opera in the local community. It stages a wide variety of performance each season and features both local and regional artists.
- Providence Black Repertory Company: Founded in 1996, the Providence Black Repertory Company presents live music, poetry, and performance art six nights a week in the downtown Xxodus Café. The company also offers extensive educational outreach programs in the community.
- Sound Session: Sound Session is summer music festival that represents the culmination of the Providence Black Repertory Company's season. The event features live entertainment on multiple stages and attracts a large crowd with world-class artists.
- Gallery Night: The third Thursday of every month from March through November is Gallery Night in Providence. Visitors can explore more than 20 galleries, art shops, and museums throughout the city. A free bus runs a unique loop especially for this event.
- Festival of Historic Houses: Providence is home to many historic buildings. Each year, the Festival of Historic Houses allows visitors the opportunity to explore some of the city's privately owned historic homes.
Providence is known as an important center of education in New England. It is home to the prestigious Ivy League Brown University, and other institutions of higher education in the city include Rhode Island College, Providence College, the Community College of Rhode Island, and Johnson & Wales University. The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), one of the nation's top art colleges, is also located in Providence.
Providence is served by the Providence Journal and the Federal Hill Gazette. College and university papers published in the city include the Brown Daily Herald, the College Independent, and the Providence College Cowl.
The Providence Bruins are a popular American Hockey League team that plays at Dunkin' Donuts Center. Sports fans can enjoy a number of NCAA Division I athletic events at Brown University and Providence College. The city was also the host of ESPN's X Games in 1995.