Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Providence

PROVIDENCE, a city, capital of the State of Rhode Island, and county-seat of Providence co.; on the Providence river, an arm of Narragansett Bay, and on the New York, New Haven, and Hartford, and the New England railroads; 44 miles S. W. of Boston. It is the second city of New England in population and wealth, and is built on a rolling plateau.

Business Interests.—Providence has upward of 2,000 manufacturing establishments, with a combined capital of about $60,000,000, and employing about 40,000 persons. It is noted for its manufactures of cotton and woolen goods, jewelry, and stoves, and is the largest seat of fine jewelry manufacture in the United States. The other industries include silverware, tools, engines, locomotives, boilers, sewing machines, screws, files, general hardware, yarn, calico, laces, braids, worsteds, broadcloth, chemicals, etc. There is an extensive coastwise commerce and shipping industry, especially in the coal, cotton, and wool trade. There is also an important shell-fish industry. Lines of steamboats run regularly to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. There are 7 National and several other banks; and many daily, weekly, and monthly periodicals. The assessed property valuations exceed $235,000,000, and the net debt $14,000,000.

Public Interests.—The city has an area of 19 square miles; 268 miles of streets, of which 74 miles are paved; a system of waterworks, owned by the city, that cost nearly $8,000,000, with 437 miles of mains; and a sewer system covering 252 miles. The streets are lighted by gas and electricity, at a cost of over $245,000 per annum; the police department costs annually about $700,000, and the fire department about $575,000. There is a public school enrollment of over 40,000 pupils; and an annual expenditure for public education of over $1,400,000. The cost of maintaining the city government exceeds $7,000,000. The death rate average 15.47 per 1,000. The city of Providence is the seat of Brown University. La Salle and St. Xavier's Academies (R. C), Lincoln School, Academy of the Sacred Heart, Rhode Island School of Design, etc. The charitable institutions include the Rhode Island Institute for the Deaf, Dexter Asylum for the Poor, Home for Aged Men, Home for Aged Women, State Home and School for Indigent Children, Rhode Island Hospital, Butler Insane Asylum, orphan asylums, dispensaries, etc. There is also the Rhode Island State Prison. There are about 120 churches, and several beautiful parks, the most important being the Roger Williams.

History.—In 1636 Roger Williams, a Baptist clergyman, was exiled from Massachusetts because he opposed its theocratic laws. He first settled at What Cheer rock, on the Seekonk river, and later at the head of the Providence river, where the Indian chief, Canonicus, granted him a piece of land. In 1643-1644 local government was formed under a royal charter. In 1675, during King Philip's War, the city was partly burned. Providence received its city charter in 1832. Subsequently Cranston and North Providence were annexed, and a part of Johnson in 1900. Pop. (1890) 132,146; (1900) 175,597; (1910) 224,326; (1920) 237,595.