Providence was settled by Roger Williams in June of 1636, making it one of the thirteen original colonies of the United States. The land was previously occupied by the Narragansett natives. Providence was created as a refuge for those persecuted for their religion, as Williams had been exiled from Massachusetts for abhorring Puritanism.
The British government impeded Providence’s growth in the mid-1770s with levied taxation upon the pivotal maritime, fishing and agricultural industries. An example is the Sugar Act, in which a tax was levied against Providence's distilleries that negatively affected slave and rum trade. Such taxes were the cause of Providence’s joining the allegiance against the British Crown. This led to the famous Gaspee Affair of 1772, in with the residents of Providence led the first violent attack of the American Revolution. Brown University’s University Hall was famously used as a barracks and military hospital during this time.
After the war, Providence’s economical industries changed from maritime enterprises to manufacturing, especially machinery, tools, jewelry and textiles. Once touting some of the largest manufacturing plants in the US, Providence was the country’s ninth-largest city. Such industries drew many immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, England, Italy, Portugal, Cape Verde and French Canada, all of which greatly contribute to the demographical populations of the state today.
The jewelry industry boomed in the 1920s, employing new immigrants coming from Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Lithuanian backgrounds. The Great Depression hit hard economically, leading to population decreases and a decline of nationwide trends. The 1950s through the 1980s saw a tremendous rise in organized crime, of which Providence was notorious. Mafia boss Raymond L. S. Patriarca ruled the Providence mob scene.
The “Renaissance City” got its nickname in the 1970s, starting with the investment of millions of local and national funds throughout the city, which helped stabilize falling populations. In the 1990s, Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Ciani Jr. pushed for an emphasis on the city’s strength in the arts and revitalized the city’s natural landscape. He uncovered Providences' rivers, relocated a large section of the railroad underground, created the now famous Waterplace Park and river walks, and sanctioned the construction of the Bank of America Skating Rink and the sprawling Providence Place Mall.
Providence’s climate is between humid continental climate and humid subtropical climate. This means warm summers, cold winters and year-round high humidity. Providence, along with the rest of Rhode Island, is warmer than many other inland areas in New England due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. On average, travelers can count on January to be the coldest month and July to be the warmest. The record high temperature in the city was 104 degrees F in 1975. The record low temperature in the city was -17 degrees F in 1934.
Providence receives abundant precipitation year round, as do all populations along the seaboard. Summers are rainy, but winter months are known for the powerful Nor’easter storms that bring copious snowfall and blizzard conditions, albeit lesser than the northern New England states. Providence’s location at the head of the Narragansett Bay creates vulnerability to hurricanes, but such events are rare.
The Museum of Natural History and Planetarium at Roger Williams Park:
Founded in 1896, the Museum of Natural History is Rhode Island’s only natural history museum and houses the state’s sole public planetarium. The museum is modest in size, yet houses an impressive array of local selections: birds, marine animals, insects, floral and faunal species, minerals, fossils and much more. Exhibits specializing in the tools and textiles of New England’s Native American populations can bee seen here. It’s quaint colonial style of architecture is history lesson in itself. See the museum for a quiet and intimate learning experience. This museum is highly recommended for children, as it hosts tons of fun, interactive activities and workshops.
The Planetarium is free to visit at any time for browsing. The shows, at a cheap cost, are well worth it: the Planetarium offers multiple programs such as Cosmic Collisions, Field Trip to the Moon, Our Place In Space, Sky Views, and much more. Shows rotate often and are offered to both general and family audiences. The planetarium now features a state of the art Zeiss star projector and an enlarged domed ceiling, which is able to show the starry sky and the motions of the planets at unprecedented detail.