WaterPlace Park and Waterfire

One acre of water in the four-acre park here today represents a vital part of early Providence history. The water is a reminder of the hundreds of acres of brackish water that covered the area that Roger Williams knew as the Great Salt Cove. Over…

Union Station

Imagine this building as the central location for industry and modernity in 19th-century Providence. Picture a tangle of railroad tracks and constant motion, with engineers and manufacturers working hard to support (arguably) the most important place…

Burnside Park

Amidst the flurry of trains and industry that marked this area during the 19th century was a much needed bucolic retreat, what we now call Burnside Park. Adjacent to the historic transportation hub of Providence, Burnside Park was originally created…

Kennedy Plaza

Created as Exchange Place in the 19th century, Kennedy Plaza stands out in a neighborhood defined by change. It’s served same role for over a century: the city’s central transportation hub. Today, as many as 69,000 people move through the site daily!…

Providence City Hall

Though the area around it has changed over the years, Providence City Hall remains a constant in downtown Providence. Constructed in the 1870s, the cast iron and masonry structure witnessed the evolution of Exchange Place into Kennedy Plaza, two…

Providence Biltmore Hotel

It is said that every Rhode Islander visits the Biltmore Hotel at least once. Opened in June of 1922, the Biltmore immediately became a significant hub for social activity in downtown Providence, a legacy that continues today. Its elegant halls have…

Shepard Company Building

Few places in downtown evoke such fond memories like the iconic Shepard Company Department Store, a fixture of the 19th and 20th-century Providence shopping experience. Built in the 1870s, Shepard’s initially was 6,400 square feet. By 1903, it grew…

Industrial Trust Building

Popularly known as the “Superman Building,” because of its resemblance to the iconic Daily Planet building in the television series, the Industrial Trust Building remains the tallest in Providence at 428 feet. Completed in 1927, it is a reminder of…

Market House

Boston wasn’t the only place to throw a tea party! Here, on March 2, 1775, Providence residents protesting the Tea Act threw 300 pounds of British East India Company tea into the Providence River. Finding inspiration in Rhode Island’s founder Roger…

Custom House

A symbol of the long history of business downtown, the Custom House was completed in 1857. Originally built as the first Providence Federal Building, the Custom House was home to the Federal District Court, the Post Office, and U.S. Customs. This…

The Arcade

Imagine people hustling and bustling in search for the finest goods this 19th-century neighborhood had to offer. Now picture the Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Greece. Together the two images create the landmark “temple of trade” known as The…

Johnson and Wales University

Johnson & Wales University is a world renowned leader in experiential education, with degree programs in arts and sciences, business, culinary arts, education, hospitality, engineering and design, and more. Fittingly, the Providence campus is…

Providence Performing Arts Center

Weybosset Street was alive with excitement as nearly 14,000 people attended the opening of the new 3,100 seat Loew’s State Movie Palace on October 6, 1928 to see the movie “Excess Baggage” on the big screen. Those lucky enough to have seats to the…

AS220

No organization embodies Providence’s moniker, “The Creative Capital”, more than AS220. Founded in 1985, this organization supports artists by providing housing, studio, exhibit, and performance space in downtown Providence. AS220 began in one room…

Providence Public Library

A fixture of the capital city, the Providence Public Library (PPL) has continuously served the downtown community for over a century. Founded in 1875, the PPL opened at its present Washington Street location in 1900. It added the Empire Street…

Trinity Repertory Company

Few theaters can say they’ve housed the evolution of American entertainment like this one. Now home to the Tony Award-winning Trinity Repertory Company, this space has vaudeville roots, showed blockbuster hits, and now wows audiences with live…

Governor Henry Lippitt House

Prominent textile manufacturer Henry Lippitt, his wife and six children lived in this opulent Italian Renaissance Revival house, a testament to the burgeoning wealth of industrial Providence. Lippitt’s business ventures and investments proved so…

John Brown House Museum

Success, ambition, and glamour dominate this block of Benefit Street. John Brown became wealthy from his family’s shipping business, which included privateering, the China Trade, and Triangular Trade. John, along with his brothers Nicholas, Joseph,…

First Unitarian Church

Only two months before Washington would burn at the hands of British troops during the War of 1812, Providence would witness the destruction by fire of a major monument atop the East Side. A victim of arson, the First Congregational Church (1795) was…

The Stephen Hopkins House

This home of Declaration-signer Stephen Hopkins (1707 – 1785) is among the oldest still standing in Rhode Island and the oldest in Providence. Hopkins lived here with his family and their slaves, in eight rooms that are now chock-full of antiques,…

Brown University Quadrangle

If the walls of University Hall could talk, they might tell you about the time they met George Washington (although don’t believe them if they tell you he slept here). The first building constructed on Brown’s campus, University Hall, has played host…

The Providence Athenaeum

In the mood for a seance? If you were a member of the cultural elite in 19th-century Providence, all signs would have pointed to yes. East Side artists and intellectuals attended seances held in private homes, which also played host to literary…

Market Square and the Market House

As you stroll the streets of the East Side, pay attention to the street signs: many of the streets you pass bear witness to some of the significant people and structures that have come and gone, making and remaking the city. Power Street, for…

Rhode Island School of Design and RISD Museum

The Rhode Island School of Design, most commonly known by its acronym RISD, is an internationally acclaimed leader in art and design education. Established in 1877 by 34 members of the Rhode Island Women’s Centennial Commission, the school embarked…

First Baptist Church

As the population of the East Side grew in the 18th century, residences sprang up quickly along Benefit Street. Intended for “the common benefit of all,” Benefit Street encouraged the construction of homes higher on the ridge of modern-day College…

Providence Art Club

Providence’s tightly-knit community of artists and collectors created the Providence Art Club to congregate, create, and display art. It is the second oldest art club in the country after the Salmagundi Club in New York City. The westernmost of the…

Early Industry and Wood-Fired Pizza

Rhode Island is perhaps inordinately proud of its superlatives and firsts: first to establish religious freedom, first to rebel against the British crown, longest hold-out before ratifying the newly minted Constitution.  And, in the 20th century,…

The Changing City

Providence began as a sleepy farming village along the Great Salt Cove and The Great Salt River (the Providence River, today). It stayed that way into the eighteenth century, even while seaports like Newport amassed incredible wealth through the…

Roger Williams National Memorial

A visionary and independent thinker, Roger Williams (c. 1603 – 1683) was warned by the Puritan authorities in Massachusetts Bay Colony to refrain from spreading his “new and dangerous opinions.” Williams’s “opinions” did not sit well with many of his…