Providence, USA: The Renaissance City
The city of Providence is the capital of the state of Rhode Island and is home to close to 180,000 people. Providence was an important location during the American Revolution, as some of the first battles of that dispute took place on its soil, and the city still maintains its connection to its colonial past.
Today, Providence is a bustling urban area that is home to Brown University, a thriving arts scene, and numerous attractions that focus on the city's history. As a result, visitors to Providence are sure to learn something about the city, state, and region soon after they arrive.
Museums and History
Providence, RI is absolutely packed with museums, starting with the Roger Williams National Memorial. This memorial, which is dedicated to the man who founded the city, is set in a large park that features numerous exhibits and a short film about Williams' life. The memorial is across from the Rhode Island State House, so there are hotels throughout the area.
Another major museum in the city is The Museum of Natural History and Planetarium. Although this building is quite small, it is home to a number of insects, birds, marine life, and plants, making it a place that the entire family will want to see. The Cormack Planetarium has exhibitions on outer space and even features a projector that shows the stars and planets in great detail. Other notable museums in Providence include the John Brown House Museum, the Providence Children's Museum, and the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum.
Since Providence is quite old for an American city, the architecture comes from a variety of different periods. Brown University, which is an Ivy League school that was founded in 1764, has six buildings that are on the country's National Register of Historic Places. University Hall was opened in 1770 and Nightingale-Brown House in 1792, making them excellent examples of colonial-era architecture. Other significant buildings on-campus include Gardner House, Hoppin House, the Ladd Observatory, and Corliss-Brackett House, all of which were built during the 1800s.
Another excellent example of historic architecture in Providence can be found at Rhode Island State House, on which construction was completed in 1901. This building features a large self-supported dome that is made from marble, along with numerous revolutionary artefacts. It is also home to the portrait of George Washington from 1663 that is now found on every one dollar bill in the country. Stores, hotels, and restaurants surround the building. Old Stone Bank, The Arcade, and the Federal Courthouse are other buildings that are worth visiting.
Parks and Zoos
In the southern part of Providence sits Roger Williams Park, a 427-acre space that has seven lakes, a museum, and a zoo. There is also a major playground, a Victorian carousel, and a botanical garden at this park. Activities available at the park include boat rides, horse rides, and tennis. The on-site Temple of Music hosts concerts and festivals in the summer as well.
Another popular space in Providence, RI is called Waterplace Park. This venue was completed in 1994, but has a historic look, complete with cobblestone pathways. Despite its central location close to shops, restaurants, and hotels, the park is very quiet, largely due to the fact that much of it is lower than the street, which helps to eliminate traffic noise.
Annual Festivals and Events
The event for which Providence is most known is Waterfire. While this more of a tradition than a festival, it involves the lighting of 100 small bonfires on the three separate rivers that meet in the city's downtown core. These fires light the area along the city's Riverwalk between April and October and usually burn until after midnight. Waterfire is a popular event with visitors and, therefore, hotel rooms tend to fill up quickly during these months, especially in the downtown area.
Foo Fest is an annual street party that takes place in the summer. The goal of this festival is to highlight the works of local artists and there is plenty of live music to be found when passing by. Providence SoundSession is music festival that takes place over the course of a week at venues all over the city, while Bright Night Providence is a New Year’s Eve celebration that also celebrates the contributions of local artists.
Theatre and the Arts
Providence is very proud of its local artists and when visiting the city, it is always a good idea to witness some of the work that is put in by these people and groups. AS220 is a community centre that has four different art galleries and 19 artist studios. On any given night, visitors can leave their hotels and wander through this centre to find live music, art exhibits, and special dinners. There is something going on every night of the year at this venue.
The Providence Performing Arts Centre is located right in the heart of the city and often hosts national music and comedy acts. The Rhode Island Philharmonic plays there often, as well, and it usually attracts a large crowd. Avon Cinema is an independent theatre that shows local and indie films, while the Trinity Repertory Company is one of the country's most renowned theatres that highlights local acts.
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