A Walking Tour of Providence, Rhode Islandby Doug Gelbert
Each walking tour describes historical and
- LendMe LendMe™ Learn More
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour from walkthetown.com is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
What do you do if you are a 30-year old Oxford, England-educated minister and you sail across the Atlantic Ocean to practice your religious beliefs in the way you desire and you discover the new boss is the same as the old boss? Well, if it is 1636 and the Massachusetts Bay colony and you are banished for your “newe and dangerous opinions against the authorities” like Roger Williams you go and live with a people who know nothing about such authority. And when you get lucky enough to be given some land on a navigable harbor you name your new settlement in gratitude “for God’s merciful providence unto me in my distress.”
Williams made only civil laws for his new town. Each person would have the right to worship without interference or regulation by the state. Despite its welcoming disposition Providence grew slowly, due in large part to its topography. Williams’ land was dominated by hills that would in the future draw comparisons to the beauty of Rome and the splendid city that grew on its seven hills. But in the beginning it impeded farming and instead the early days found Providence a shipping and shipbuilding town. Trade was especially brisk between Providence Harbor and the West Indies in rum and molasses and slaves.
Following the war, the economy shifted from maritime endeavors to manufacturing, particularly machinery, tools, silverware, jewelry and textiles. Providence boasted some of the largest manufacturing plants in the country, including Brown & Sharpe, Nicholson File, and Gorham Silverware, and at one time was America’s ninth-largest city. The city’s manufacturing boom lasted into the 1920s but was crippled when the nation spiraled into economic depression in the 1930s. The Great Hurricane of 1938 flooded the city and destroyed more businesses. Today, the city that once fashioned itself the “Beehive of Industry” is home to eight hospitals and seven institutions of higher learning, which has shifted the economy into service industries.
Our downtown walking tour will visit the city’s arts district and financial district and governmental center. We’ll walk along Benefit Street where more than 200 restored houses, taverns and other buildings constructed by sea captains and shipbuilders have created the “Mile of History.” But first we’ll start where Roger Williams himself did, on the site of the original Rhode Island settlement, along a narrow strip of land between the river and the hills...
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews