City Summary - Providence, Rhode Island
Incorporated in 1636, Providence, Rhode Island, is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Early colonist Roger Williams named the town in reference to the providence of God. With a population of more than 171,000, the city is the third largest in New England. For centuries, Providence had only a small minority population, but beginning in the 1990s an influx of new residents shifted the demographics of the city. Now, more than 40 percent of the residents are Hispanic or Latino, accounting for the largest racial group in the city with whites only at 35 percent. African Americans make up 13.8 percent of the city's population, and 6.6 percent are Asians.
In addition to its demographic shift, Providence has undergone major changes in its economic activities in recent years. At one time, the city was referred to as the "Beehive of Industry" and served as a center for the production of metals, machinery and textiles. Although Providence is still one of the largest producers of silverware and jewelry in the U.S., emphasis has drifted away from manufacturing toward a heavy service base. Due to this change, the city adopted a new nickname, the "Creative Capital," in 2009.
Education is the largest employer in Providence, contributing more than 14 percent of all jobs. Brown University and Johnson and Wales University are two of the largest employers in the city. Providence College, Rhode Island College, Rhode Island School of Design and the Community College of Rhode Island are all based in the city. The Providence School District provides public education to the city through its 45 schools. One of its high schools, The Classic Academy received a silver medal on the best high schools listings from "U.S. News and World Report" in 2011. The Times2 Academy, one of the district's charter schools, was honored with a bronze medal.
Health care ranks as the second largest industry in Providence, employing 10.9 percent of all residents. Among the largest employers in the city are Rhode Island Hospital, Women & Infants Hospital, Miriam Hospital and the Roger Williams Medical Center. A Fortune 500 company, aircraft and tool manufacturer Textron has its headquarters in Providence as does Citizen's Bank, one of the top 20 largest banks in the country.
Providence consists of 25 neighborhoods. The Downtown area has undergone a massive revitalization, the crowning point of which is the Riverwalk and Waterplace Park. The area features public art installations and cultural events year-round. Along with the park, several high end condominium and apartment complexes have been erected in the area, catering to residents who wish to live as well as work Downtown.
As the capital of Rhode Island, Providence draws visitors from across the United States and offers numerous attractions for tourists, business travelers and its residents. These include the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum, Providence Children's Museum and the Roger Williams National Memorial. One hundred public parks are located throughout the city, and the Narragansett Bay is popular for boating. Options for dining are numerous, and Providence has the highest number of coffee and doughnut shops per capita of anywhere in the United States.