Imagine this: it’s late September 1928, and Providence is abuzz with activity. There are huge factories, some of the largest in their fields, employing thousands of people; trolley lines crisscross the whole city; boats are docked at piers in the…

During the 1910s, entertainment venues were in a state of flux. They were originally created as spaces for live performances. With the advent of early film, many venue owners tried to switch entirely from live shows to movies – but found that they…

Entertainment in the 1880s extended beyond opera and vaudeville to also include human spectacle in venues called “dime museums.” A phenomenon in the late 19th century, they were akin to circus sideshows in the respect that they used people as main…

The Theatre Comique was as different from the Providence Opera House as could be, despite being just blocks away. The Opera House was built as a handsome, stately performing arts venue. Theatre Comique was originally built as a billiard parlor and…

On the evening of December 4, 1871, carriage after carriage pulled up in front of a rather inconspicuous red brick building in downtown Providence. Well-dressed theatre-goers entered the lobby of the Providence Opera House, the city’s newest…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 & 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…

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…

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…

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…

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…