Providence Real Estate
Providence was settled in June 1636 by Roger Williams and was one of the original Thirteen Colonies. Williams and his company were compelled to leave Massachusetts Bay Colony, and Providence quickly became a refuge for persecuted religious dissenters, as Williams himself had been exiled from Massachusetts.
The city was burned to the ground in March 1676 by the Narragansetts during King Philip’s War, despite the good relations between Williams and the sachems with whom the United Colonies of New England were waging war. Later in the year, the Rhode Island legislature formally rebuked the other colonies for provoking the war.
Providence residents were among the first Patriots to spill blood in the lead-up to the American Revolutionary War during the Gaspée Affair of 1772, and Rhode Island was the first of the Thirteen Colonies to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown on May 4, 1776. It was also the last of the Thirteen Colonies to ratify the United States Constitution on May 29, 1790, once assurances were made that a Bill of Rights would become part of the Constitution.
Market Square was the center of civic life in the 19th Century, and Market House was home to the city council before Providence City Hall was built.
Following the war, Providence was the country’s ninth-largest city[b] with 7,614 people. The economy shifted from maritime endeavors to manufacturing, in particular machinery, tools, silverware, jewelry, and textiles. By the start of the 20th century, Providence hosted some of the largest manufacturing plants in the country, including Brown & Sharpe, Nicholson File, and Gorham Manufacturing Company.
City Hall was built in 1878
Providence residents ratified a city charter in 1831 as the population passed 17,000. The seat of city government was located in the Market House in Market Square from 1832 to 1878, which was the geographic and social center of the city. The city offices outgrew this building, and the City Council resolved to create a permanent municipal building in 1845. The city offices moved into the Providence City Hall in 1878.
During the American Civil War, local politics split over slavery as many had ties to Southern cotton and the slave trade. Despite ambivalence concerning the war, the number of military volunteers routinely exceeded quota, and the city’s manufacturing proved invaluable to the Union. Providence thrived after the war, and waves of immigrants brought the population from 54,595 in 1865 to 175,597 by 1900.
By the early 1900s, Providence was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. Immigrant labor powered one of the nation’s largest industrial manufacturing centers. Providence was a major manufacturer of industrial products, from steam engines to precision tools to silverware, screws, and textiles. Giant companies were based in or near Providence, such as Brown & Sharpe, the Corliss Steam Engine Company, Babcock & Wilcox, the Grinnell Corporation, the Gorham Manufacturing Company, Nicholson File, and the Fruit of the Loom textile company.
People gathering in Waterplace Park, opened in 1994, just before a WaterFire event. On the left can be seen the Waterplace condominiums constructed in 2008. The entire area had been covered in railroad tracks, and the river was covered with paved bridges until the late 1980s.
From 1975 until 1982, $606 million of local and national community development funds were invested throughout the city. In the 1990s, the city pushed for revitalization, realigning the north-south railroad tracks, removing the huge rail viaduct that separated downtown from the capitol building, uncovering and moving the rivers (which had been covered by paved bridges) to create Waterplace Park and river walks along the rivers’ banks, and constructing the Fleet Skating Rink (now the Alex and Ani City Center) and the Providence Place Mall.
Despite new investment, poverty remains an entrenched problem, as it does in many cities. Approximately 27.9 percent of the city population is living below the poverty line. Recent increases in real estate values further exacerbate problems for those at marginal income levels, as Providence had the highest rise in median housing price of any city in the United States from 2004 to 2005.
Providence is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a Reformed Baptist theologian and religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of “God’s merciful Providence” which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers. The city is situated at the mouth of the Providence River at the head of Narragansett Bay.
Providence was one of the first cities in the country to industrialize and became noted for its textile manufacturing and subsequent machine tool, jewelry, and silverware industries. Today, the city of Providence is home to eight hospitals and seven institutions of higher learning which have shifted the city’s economy into service industries, though it still retains some manufacturing activity. The city was once nicknamed the “Beehive of Industry”; it began rebranding itself as the “Creative Capital” in 2009 to emphasize its educational resources and arts community.
The city is the third most populous city in New England after Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts.