AskDefine | Define providence

Dictionary Definition



1 the capital and largest city of Rhode Island; located in northeastern Rhode Island on Narragansett Bay; site of Brown University [syn: capital of Rhode Island]
2 the guardianship and control exercised by a deity; "divine providence"
3 a manifestation of God's foresightful care for His creatures
4 the prudence and care exercised by someone in the management of resources [ant: improvidence]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Providence



  • /ˈprɒvɪdəns/


  1. The prudent care and management of resources.
    His providence in saving for his old age is exemplary.
  2. The careful guardianship exercised by a deity.
  3. A manifestation of divine care or direction.

See also



Prudent care and management of resources
  • German: Vorsorge
  • Russian: предусмотрительность
Careful guardianship exercised by a deity
  • Finnish: kaitselmus, sallimus
  • German: Fügung
  • Russian: провидение
Manifestation of divine care or direction
  • Finnish: (care) kaitselmus, (direction) sallimus

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Providence is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island, and one of the first cities established in the United States. Located in Providence County, it is the estimated third-largest city in the New England region. Despite having an estimated population of 175,255 as of 2006, it anchors the 36th largest metropolitan population in the country, with an estimated MSA population of 1,612,989, exceeding that of Rhode Island by about 60% due to its reaching into southern Massachusetts. Situated at the mouth of the Providence River, on Narragansett Bay, the city's small footprint is crisscrossed by seemingly erratic streets and a rapidly changing demographic using them.
Providence was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of "God's merciful Providence" which he believed was responsible for his finding such a haven to settle. After being one of the first cities in the country to industrialize, Providence became noted for its jewelry and silverware industry. Today, Providence city proper alone is home to eight hospitals and seven institutions of higher learning, which has shifted the city's economy into service industries, though it still retains significant manufacturing work. The city was once nicknamed the "Beehive of Industry", while today "The Renaissance City" is more common, though as of 2000 census, its poverty rate was still among the ten highest for cities over 100,000.


The area which is now Providence was first settled in June 1636 by Roger Williams, and was one of the original Thirteen Colonies of the United States. Williams secured a title from the Narragansett natives around this time and gave the city its present name. Williams also cultivated Providence as a refuge for persecuted religious dissenters, as he himself had been exiled from Massachusetts. Providence's growth would be slow during the next quarter-century—the subsuming of its territory into surrounding towns, difficulty of farming the land, and differing of local traditions and land conflicts all slowed development. The mafia boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca ruled a vast criminal enterprise.
The city's eponymous "Renaissance" began in the 1970s. From 1975 until 1982, $606 million of local and national Community Development funds were invested throughout the city, and the hitherto falling population began to stabilize. In the 1990s, Mayor Vincent Cianci, Jr showcased the city's strength in arts and pushed for further revitalization, ultimately resulting in the opening up of the city's natural rivers (which had been paved over), relocation of a large section of railroad underground, creation of Waterplace Park and river walks along the river's banks, and construction of the Fleet Skating Rink (now the Bank of America Skating Rink) downtown and the 1.4 million ft² Providence Place Mall. Despite new investment, poverty remains an entrenched problem as it does in most post-industrial New England cities. Nearly 30 percent of the city population lives below the poverty line. Recent increases in real estate values further exacerbate problems for those at marginal income levels, as Providence had the highest rise in median housing price of any city in the United States from 2004 to 2005.


The Providence city limits enclose a small geographic region, with a total area of 20.5 square miles (53.2 km²). 18.5 square miles (47.8 km²) of it is land and the remaining 2.1 square miles (5.3 km²) (roughly 10%) of it is water.
Providence is located at the head of Narragansett Bay, with the Providence River running into the bay through the center of the city, formed by the confluence of the Moshassuck and Woonasquatucket Rivers. The Waterplace Park amphitheater and riverwalks line the river's banks through downtown. Constitution Hill (near downtown), College (or Prospect) Hill (east of the Providence River), and Federal Hill (west of downtown and is New England's largest Italian district) are the most prominent of the city's hills. The remaining hills include Tockwotten Hill at Fox Point, Smith Hill (where the State House is located), Christian Hill at Hoyle Square (junction of Cranston & Westminster Streets), and Weybosset Hill at the lower end of Weybosset Street, which was leveled in the early 1880s.


Providence has 25 official neighborhoods, though these neighborhoods are often grouped together and referred to collectively:
  • The North End is formed by the combination of the neighborhoods of Charles and Wanskuck.
  • West Broadway is an officially recognized neighborhood with its own association. It overlaps with the southern half of Federal Hill and the northern part of the West End.
  • The West Side is a vague term sometimes used to mean the West End, Olneyville, and nearby parts of abutting neighborhoods.


The city of Providence is geographically very compact, characteristic of eastern seaboard cities which developed prior to use of the automobile. For this reason, Providence has the eighth-highest percentage of pedestrian commuters. The street layout is somewhat chaotic—over one thousand streets (a great number for the city's size) run haphazardly, connecting and radiating from traditionally bustling places like Market Square.
Downtown Providence has numerous 19th century mercantile buildings in the Federal and Victorian architectural styles, as well as several post-modern and modernist buildings, are located throughout this area. In particular, a fairly clear spatial separation appears between the areas of pre-1980s development and post-1980s development. West Exchange Street and Exchange Terrace serve as rough boundaries between the two.
The newer area includes Providence Place Mall (1999), a Westin hotel (1993), GTECH (2006), new condominium construction, and Waterplace Park (1994); the area tends toward newer development since much of it is land reclaimed in the 1970s from a mass of railroad tracks which was referred to colloquially as the "Chinese Wall". This part of Downtown is characterized by open spaces, wide roads, and intent landscaping.
The historic part of downtown has many streetscapes that look as they did eighty years ago. Most of the state's tallest buildings are found here. The largest structure, to date, is the art-deco-styled former Industrial Trust Tower, currently the Bank of America Building at 426 feet (130 m). By contrast, nearby to it is the second tallest One Financial Plaza, designed in modern taut-skin cladding, constructed a half century later. In between the two is 50 Kennedy Plaza. The Textron Tower is also a core building to the modest Providence skyline. Downtown is also the home of the Providence Biltmore and Westminster Arcade, the oldest enclosed shopping mall in the U.S., built in 1828.
The city's southern waterfront, away from the downtown core, is the location of many oil tanks, a docking station for a ferry boat, a decommissioned Russian submarine, a non-profit sailing center, bars, strip clubs, and power plants. The Fox Point Hurricane Barrier is also found here, built to protect Providence from storm surge, like that it had endured in the 1938 New England Hurricane and again in 1954 from Hurricane Carol.
The majority of the cityscape comprises abandoned and revitalized industrial mills, double and triple decker housing (though the row houses found in so commonly in other Northeast cities, are notably rare here), a small number of high-rise buildings (predominantly for housing the elderly), and single family homes. I-95 serves as a physical barrier between the city's commercial core and neighborhoods such as Federal Hill and the West End.


Providence's climate is humid continental, with warm summers, cool winters, and high humidity year-round. The USDA rates the city at Zone 6a, which is an "in-between" climate. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean keeps Providence, and the rest of the state of Rhode Island, warmer than many inland locales in New England. January is the coldest month with average high temperatures of 37 °F (3 °C) and average low temperatures of 20 °F (-7 °C). July is the warmest month with average high temperatures of 83 °F (28 °C) and average low temperatures of 64 °F (18 °C). Precipitation levels are generally slightly lesser in the summer months than the winter months when powerful storms known as Nor'easters can cause significant snowfall and blizzard conditions. Though not frequent, Providence's location at the head of Narragansett Bay makes it vulnerable to Atlantic hurricanes.


As of the census of 2000, the population comprised 173,618 people, 62,389 households, and 35,859 families. Also like these cities, its population peaked in the 1940s just prior to the nationwide period of rapid suburbanization. Providence has had a substantial Italian population since the turn of the century, evidenced by its own Little Italy in Federal Hill. Irish immigrants have also had considerable influence on the city's history, with 8% of residents claiming Irish heritage.
Belying Providence's traditionally white makeup is the sizable minority presence it has acquired in the last twenty years. Though nearby cities like Boston and Hartford have longer-standing black and Latino communities, Providence now has a higher minority percentage, with non-Hispanic whites comprising less than half (45.8%) of the population. Though salient contributions to this growth have been among Asians and unspecified races, the most dramatic change comes from Hispanics, whose presence has increased fivefold. Having origins in Puerto Rico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Central America (particularly Guatemala), Hispanics have strong influence in the neighborhoods of Elmwood, the West End, and Upper and Lower South Providence. African Americans constitute approximately 15% of the city with the largest percentages in Mount Hope and Upper and Lower South Providence neighborhoods.
The per capita income, as of the 2000 census, was $15,525, which is well below both the state average of $29,113, and the national average of $21,587. The city's 11 homicides in 2006 represented a historic low. Of the 239 United States cities with populations over 100,000, Providence's violent crime rate ranked 84th in 2003, as compared with New York City at 94th and Boston at 28th. Notwithstanding its comparatively low rate of violent crime, Providence has the fifth-highest rate of property crime per 100,000 inhabitants in the country, which is 50% above the national average, with car theft in particular at 150% higher.
David Cicilline, mayor since 2002, is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bi-partisan group with the goal of reducing illegal gun ownership. The Coalition is co-chaired by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.


Providence was one of the first cities to industrialize in the United States. By 1830, the city had manufacturing industries in metals, machinery, textiles, jewelry, and silverware. Though manufacturing has declined, the city is still one of the largest centers for jewelry and silverware design and manufacturing. Services, particularly education, health care, and finance, also make up a large portion of the city's economy. Providence also is the site of a sectional center facility, a regional hub for the U.S. Postal Service. Since it is the capital of Rhode Island, Providence's economy additionally consists of government services.
Providence serves as Rhode Island's capital, housing the Rhode Island General Assembly as well as the offices of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor in the Rhode Island State House.
Providence's city government has a mayor-council form of government. The Providence City Council consists of fifteen city councilors, one for each of the city's wards. The council is tasked with enacting ordinances and passing an annual budget. Providence also has probate and superior courts. The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island is located downtown across from City Hall adjacent to Kennedy Plaza.
David N. Cicilline was elected mayor by a large margin in 2002 and was re-elected without any major opposition in 2006. Cicilline is the first and only openly gay mayor of an American state capital. Providence is the largest American city to have an openly gay mayor, Compounded by Brown University's being the second-largest employer, In addition, the city's South Side houses Community Preparatory School, a private school serving primarily low-income students in grades 3-8. Within the semi-private schools, The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (The Met) and The Big Picture Company schools serve students through real world experiences and project-based learning. There are two separate centers for students with special needs.

Public schools

The Providence Public School District serves about 26,000 students from pre-Kindergarten to grade 12. The district has 25 elementary schools, nine middle schools, and thirteen high schools. The Providence Public School District features magnet schools at the middle and high school level, Nathanael Greene and Classical respectively.


seealso Media in Providence Much of Providence culture is synonymous with Rhode Island culture. Like the state, the city has a non-rhotic accent which can be heard on local media. Providence also shares Rhode Island's propensity for coffee, as the former has the most coffee/doughnut shops per capita of any city in the country. Providence is also reputed to have the highest number of restaurants per capita, many of which are founded and/or staffed by its own Johnson & Wales graduates.
Providence is home to an park system, notably Waterplace Park and Riverwalk, Roger Williams Park, Roger Williams National Memorial, and Prospect Terrace Park, the latter featuring expansive views of the downtown area. As one of the first cities in the country, Providence is littered with historic buildings while the East Side neighborhood in particular includes the largest contiguous area of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the U.S. with many pre-revolutionary houses. Providence is home to the First Baptist Church in America, the oldest Baptist church in the Americas, founded by Roger Williams in 1638. Nearby is Roger Williams National Memorial. Downcity Providence is home to the fourth largest unsupported dome in the world (the second largest marble dome after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome), as well as the Westminster Arcade, which is the oldest enclosed shopping center in the U.S.
The main art museum is the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, which has the twentieth largest collection in the country. The city's southern waterfront hosts a decommissioned Cold War era Russian submarine. In addition to the Providence Public Library and its nine branches, the city is home to the Providence Athenæum, the fourth oldest library in the country. Here, on one of his many visits to Providence, Edgar Allan Poe, met and courted a love interest named Sarah Helen Whitman. Poe was a regular fixture there, as was H. P. Lovecraft; both of them influential writers of gothic literature.
The Bank of America Skating Center, formerly the Fleet Skating Center, is located near Kennedy Plaza in the downtown district, connected by pedestrian tunnel to Waterplace Park, a cobblestone and concrete park below street traffic that abuts Providence's three rivers.
The southern part of the city is home to the famous roadside attraction Nibbles Woodaway (also known as the "Big Blue Bug"), the world's largest termite, as well as the aforementioned Roger Williams Park, which contains a zoo, a botanical center, and the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.


The city is home to the American Hockey League team Providence Bruins, which plays at the Dunkin' Donuts Center (formerly the Providence Civic Center). From 1926 to 1972, the AHL's Providence Reds (renamed the Rhode Island Reds in their last years) played at the Rhode Island Auditorium. In 1972, the team relocated to the Providence Civic Center, where they played until moving to Binghamton, New York, in 1977.
Providence has its own roller derby league. Formed in 2004, it currently has four teams: the Providence Mob Squad, the Sakonnet River Roller Rats, the Old Money Honeys, and the Rhode Island Riveters. The NFL's New England Patriots and MLS's New England Revolution play in Foxborough, Massachusetts, which is situated halfway between Providence and Boston. Providence was formerly home to two major league franchises: the NFL's Providence Steam Roller in the 1920s and 1930s, and the NBA's Providence Steamrollers in the 1940s. The city is also where Rocky Marciano won 29 of his 49 fights.
The city's defunct baseball team, the Providence Grays, competed in the National League from 1879 through 1885. The team defeated the New York Metropolitans in baseball's first successful "world championship series" in 1884. In 1914, after the Boston Red Sox purchased Babe Ruth from the then-minor league Baltimore Orioles, the team prepared Ruth for the major leagues by sending him to finish the season playing for a minor league team in Providence that was also known as the Grays. Today, professional baseball is offered by the Pawtucket Red Sox, the AAA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox which plays in nearby Pawtucket. Most baseball fans—along with the local media—tend to follow the Boston Red Sox.
Major colleges and universities fielding NCAA Division I athletic teams are Brown University and Providence College. The latter is a member of the Big East Conference. Much local hype is associated with games between these two schools or the University of Rhode Island. Providence has also hosted the Gravity Games alternative sports tournament during several recent summers, and was also the first host of ESPN's X Games, known in its first edition as the Extreme Games.


Health and medicine

Providence is home to Rhode Island Hospital, the largest general acute care hospital in the state. The hospital is in a complex along I-95 that includes Hasbro Children's Hospital and Women and Infants Hospital. The city is also home to the Roger Williams Medical Center, St. Joseph Hospital For Specialty Care (a division of St. Joseph Health Services Of Rhode Island), and The Miriam Hospital, a major teaching affiliate associated with Brown University. A VA medical center is located in Providence, as well as seven other hospitals.
Providence is home to the Quality Assurance Review Center (QARC), which performs thousands of radiotherapy reviews per year. QARC is supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It receives radiotherapy data from around one-thousand hospitals in both the United States and abroad. The center also maintains a strategic affiliation with the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts.
The Rhode Island Blood Center has its main headquarters in Providence. Since 1979, the Rhode Island Blood Center has been the sole organization in charge of blood collection and testing and distribution of blood products to 11 hospitals in Rhode Island.


Providence is served by air primarily by the commercial airfield T. F. Green Airport in nearby Warwick. General aviation fields also serve the region. Due to overcrowding and Big Dig complications in Boston, Massport has been promoting T.F. Green as an alternative to Boston's Logan International Airport.
Providence Station, located between the Rhode Island State House and the downtown district, is served by Amtrak and MBTA Commuter Rail services, with a commuter rail running to Boston. Approximately 2400 passengers daily pass through the station. Additionally, funds have been allocated to extend the commuter rail from Providence to T. F. Green Airport terminating at a $222.5 million intermodal station to be completed in 2009.
I-95 runs from north to south through Providence while I-195 connects the city to eastern Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, including New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Cape Cod. I-295 encircles Providence while RI 146 provides a direct connection with Worcester, Massachusetts. The city has commissioned and begun a long-term project, the Iway, to move I-195 not only for safety reasons, but also to free up land and to reunify the Jewelry District with Downcity Providence, which had been split from one another by the highway. The project is estimated to cost $446 million and be completed in 2012.
Kennedy Plaza, in downtown Providence, serves as a transportation hub for local public transit as well as a departure point for Peter Pan and Greyhound bus lines. Public transit is managed by Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA). Through RIPTA alone Kennedy Plaza serves over 71,000 people a day. The majority of the area covered by RIPTA is served by traditional buses. Of particular note is the East Side Trolley Tunnel running under College Hill, the use of which is reserved for RIPTA buses. RIPTA also operates the Providence LINK, a system of tourist trolleys in downtown Providence, as well as a ferry to Newport between May and October.


Electricity and natural gas are provided by Narragansett Electric Company which is owned by National Grid USA. Providence Water is responsible for the distribution of drinking water, ninety percent of which comes from the Scituate Reservoir about ten miles (16 km) west of downtown, with contributions coming from four smaller bodies of water.

Sister cities

Providence has four sister cities designated by Sister Cities International:


Further reading

  • The Rough Guide USA
  • Governing Middle-Sized Cities

External links

providence in Arabic: بروفيدنس، رود آيلاند
providence in Asturian: Providence, Rhode Island
providence in Bulgarian: Провидънс
providence in Catalan: Providence
providence in Danish: Providence
providence in German: Providence
providence in Estonian: Providence
providence in Spanish: Providence (Rhode Island)
providence in Esperanto: Providence (Rod-Insulo)
providence in Basque: Providence
providence in Persian: پراویدنس
providence in French: Providence (Rhode Island)
providence in Galician: Providence
providence in Korean: 프로비던스
providence in Ido: Providence, Rhode Island
providence in Indonesian: Providence, Rhode Island
providence in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Providence, Rhode Island
providence in Italian: Providence (Rhode Island)
providence in Hebrew: פרובידנס
providence in Pampanga: Providence, Rhode Island
providence in Kurdish: Providence (Rhode Island)
providence in Latin: Providentia (Rhodensis Insula)
providence in Latvian: Providensa
providence in Dutch: Providence (Rhode Island)
providence in Japanese: プロビデンス (ロードアイランド州)
providence in Norwegian: Providence
providence in Occitan (post 1500): Providence (Rhode Island)
providence in Polish: Providence (Rhode Island)
providence in Portuguese: Providence
providence in Romanian: Providence, Rhode Island
providence in Russian: Провиденс (Род-Айленд)
providence in Simple English: Providence, Rhode Island
providence in Slovak: Providence (Rhode Island)
providence in Serbo-Croatian: Providence
providence in Finnish: Providence
providence in Swedish: Providence
providence in Tamil: பிராவிடென்ஸ்
providence in Urdu: پروویڈنس، رہوڈ آئی لینڈ
providence in Volapük: Providence
providence in Chinese: 普罗维登斯

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Almighty God, Alpha and Omega, Atropos, Clotho, Dame Fortune, Decuma, Demiourgos, Demiurge, Fata, Fates, Fortuna, God, God Almighty, Heaven, I Am, Jehovah, King of Kings, Lachesis, Lord, Lord of Lords, Lord of hosts, Moirai, Morta, Nona, Norns, Omnipotence, Omniscience, Parcae, Skuld, Tyche, Urdur, Verthandi, Weird Sisters, Weirds, the Absolute, the Absolute Being, the All-holy, the All-knowing, the All-merciful, the All-powerful, the All-wise, the Almighty, the Creator, the Deity, the Divinity, the Eternal, the Eternal Being, the First Cause, the Infinite, the Infinite Spirit, the Maker, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Preserver, the Supreme Being, the Supreme Soulacuity, acumen, acuteness, anticipation, apperception, astuteness, austerity, austerity program, beneficence, canniness, care, carefulness, caution, chariness, circumspection, circumspectness, cogency, concern, conservation, consideration, contemplation, control, cool judgment, creation, destiny, direction, discernment, discreetness, discretion, discrimination, dispensation, economic planning, economicalness, economy, economy of means, envisagement, envisionment, false economy, farseeingness, farsightedness, fate, forearming, forecast, foreglance, foregleam, foreglimpse, forehandedness, foreseeing, foresight, foresightedness, forethought, forethoughtfulness, fortune, frugality, frugalness, good judgment, good management, guidance, husbandry, incisiveness, insight, insurance, judgment, judiciousness, karma, kismet, longheadedness, longsightedness, looking ahead, lot, management, measures, parsimoniousness, parsimony, penetration, perception, perceptiveness, percipience, perspicaciousness, perspicacity, perspicuity, perspicuousness, policy, polity, precaution, precautions, precautiousness, prediction, preparation, prepublication, preservation, preventive measure, preview, prevision, prospect, prospection, protection, provision, prudence, prudential administration, prudentialism, readiness, reflection, reflectiveness, safeguard, sagaciousness, sagacity, sensibility, sound judgment, soundness of judgment, sparingness, steps, steps and measures, thoughtfulness, thrift, thriftiness, tight purse strings, trenchancy, unwastefulness, visitations of providence, weighing
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