Rhode Island

World War I Monument in Providence

Providence, the third largest city in the New England region, is the capital of Rhode Island. It is the center of activity, and as such it the most densely populated state in Rhode Island. It has eight hospitals and seven universities. Providence goes by several nicknames such as “The Beehive of Industry”, “The Renaissance City”, and “The Divine City”. It was one of the first cities to have been established in the United States. Providence is located at the mouth of the Providence River that runs to the Narragansett Bay.

Roger Williams first settled in Providence in June 1636. It was one of the renowned Thirteen Colonies of the United States. Williams was from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and being the religious, although non-conformist, devotee that he was, Williams named the land “Providence”, in honor of “God’s merciful Providence”. He developed the area as a refuge for his fellow religious exiles from Massachusetts.

During the 1770s, the British government started collecting

taxes in Providence. This slowed down the agricultural, fishing

and maritime industries, which were the cores of Providence’s economy. The taxes were enforced under laws such as the infamous Sugar Act.


The Sugar Act disturbed the operations

of the distilleries, and caused Providence to band with other

colonies against the British. Because of the enforcement of implementation of such trade laws, the American Revolution

saw its birth and began with the Gaspee Affair in 1772.

During the Revolutionary War, Providence evaded foreign colonizers. Newport, which was a city nearby, was captured

and this kept the Providence troops alert and ready for

foreign invasion.

World War I Monument
After the war, Providence saw shifted its focus from the maritime industry to the manufacturing industry. The city saw the boom of machinery, silverware, tools, textiles and jewelry. These economic developments attracted people from Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, England, Cape Verde, Portugal and French Canada to migrate to Providence.


The influx of peoples from various races caused social conflicts, particularly between the whites and blacks. To remedy this, the residents of Providence came out with a city charter in 1831. Local politics was at a clash during the Civil War over the issue of slavery. However, after the war, Providence flourished. More immigrants settled and more land was incorporated into the city. The population tripled (from almost sixty thousand to almost one hundred eighty thousand) in a period of thirty five years, from 1865 to 1900.

In the 1920s many manufacturing industries began shutting down. The city suffered severely from the Great Depression, and the downtown portion of Providence experienced the New England Hurricane of 1938, which left it flooded and in ruins. Thankfully, the city’s economic standing began improving again in the 1970s. Today, monuments and statues representing various times in Providence’s history may be seen throughout the city, like the World War I monument.