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The Historical Wonders of Rhode Island

Providence is the capital of Rhode Island and its most populated city.   Founded in 1636, Roger Williams, exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony; named the city "Providence" in honor of God's merciful providence.   Nicknamed the "Beehive of Industry" since it was one of the first cities to start industry, it eventually became known for its silverware and jewelry industries.  One of the original 13 colonies, Williams obtained a title for the land from the Narragansett Indians and touted it as a haven for persecuted religious exiles.  It was slow to grow because of this reason, but when the English levied taxes for sugar which cut into the rum and slave trade, it aligned itself with the other colonies fighting against the British crown.

Actually, the first blood drawn by the soon to be Americans were residents of Providence that attacked HMS Gaspee, which ran aground nearby while chasing a small schooner which was trying to escape paying the taxes.  The Gaspee was boarded after being attacked, stripped of everything of value or use and put to the torch by the patriots.  After the Revolution, the economy started to change from shipping and trade to mostly manufacturing, that included jewelry, silverware, textiles, tools and machinery.  Since this city was growing with the manufacture of so many staples, immigrants from Portugal, Italy, England, Sweden, Germany, Ireland and even Canada were coming for work and housing.

As the city expanded and contracted due to economic times and ethnic jealousies, it became hardest hit in the mid-1920s as textile and other of the industries began to slow down and eventually close.  The city didn't start to revive until the 70s with an influx of local and national funding that strengthened the arts, inner city revitalization, and the uncovering of rivers that had been paved over.  The city relocated a large area of underground railroad, started walkways along the river, created a water park and skating rink.  With the construction of the Providence Place Mall, 1.4 million square feet, new money began being invested in the city and its venues.

During the summer months, an unusual event transpires the city into a wonder of extraordinary beauty, called Waterfire.  Large cisterns or bonfires are lighted along the banks of the city's 3 rivers, interweaving through downtown Providence.  With music emanating from speakers all over, the fires and the aroma from them enchant people from everywhere.  A truly spectacular occurrence making your trip to Providence in the summer that much more enjoyable.


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Tours in Providence

Many tours are available in and around the Providence area.  The Rhode Island School of Design has an extensive mix of classic and contemporary art from American, Asian and European influences.  There are many museums that will give you a wonderful tour including the Children's and John Brown House.  Also available is the Heritage Harbor.  Trolley tours are an interesting way to explore the city's main sites and then you can walk at your own pace getting into the full details of the tour.  There are many other sightseeing tours that will help you find your way through the city and over to the river with its gondola rides; another unique travel venue in this special city.  Numerous galleries are located around the city and offer some incredible art, for sale and to just admire. 

The city offers a world-class menu of cuisine, with many local, national and international choices.  Many ethnic areas of the city, created from the early immigrants, have contributed to make this city's dining options a veritable smorgasbord of foods.  This city is home to the Johnson and Wales University, the largest culinary arts school in the world and one of its alumni is Emeril Lagasse.

One tour that would interest only a certain group of the population is available in Providence.  It is a growing phenomenon all across the country and no less exciting in Providence that other cities.  This abnormal behavior, or it depends on you point of view, different, is the evening tour called, "ghost hunting".  It can be a very exciting and dramatic event depending on your experiences and of course your participation.  Some believe in this phenomenon, other are skeptical; but most people are open-minded enough to try it out.  If you have some time, in the later evenings, and are looking for something unusual and different, try the Providence ghost tour.  It could turn out to be very spooktacular.


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Things to do in Providence Rhode Island

Providence is famous for 2 areas of the culinary arts; it has the most restaurants and coffee/doughnut shops per capita in the country. It is home to unique waterfire events, bonfires around the city's 3 rivers, that are accompanied by classical and world music. There are many sculptures that are changed on a regular schedule. The city is home to many well known theaters, the philharmonic orchestra, performing art cents, underground music venues and the Providence Festival Ballet.

Many beautiful parks, memorials, waterparks, and river walkways adorn the city. The oldest Baptist church, started by Roger Williams in 1638, still stands. The Westminister Arcade is considered to be the oldest enclosed shopping mall in the country. The Old Stone Bank and Unitarian Church is home to an expansive and beautiful park covering over 1200 acres. The Rhode Island School of Design Museum has one of the largest collections in America. On the south waterfront sits a decommissioned Russian sub the fourth oldest library is the Providence Athenaeum. The famous writer Edgar Allan Poe made many visits to Providence and on one of them met Sarah Helen Whitman that became a great love interest to him. The world's largest termite statue, named Nibbles Woodaway (or the big blue bug) is a famous roadside site along the south part of the city. Close by is the Roger Williams Park, containing the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, a gorgeous botanical garden and a zoo. Providence formed its own roller derby league in 2004 and has 4 teams in it at the present time. 

A rather unique way to travel and view the beautiful Rhode Island scenery is to take the ferry from Providence to Newport. About a 90 minute ride, you will have a close hand view of the beauty in nature along this memorable ride. After perusing the many things that are available in Providence, the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum was a must see. The exceptional detail to woodworks and furnishings in this historical home is definitely a work of architectural creation that you will be very pleased with view. Spend as much or as little time as you have or want. There are many nearby fascinations for you to see, so it all depends on you.