Why You Should Visit Providence, R.I., Right Away
College Hill section of Providence.
Hurwitz. Page updated on 11/16/16.
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Providence, R.I., proves that sometimes you can
judge a book by its cover.
The city once prominent for jewelry now sparkles and shines in a
different way with its ever-evolving beautiful skyline, making for a
grand facade. Beyond that beautiful facade, however, is an equally
impressive, incredibly intricate mix of modern and historical
attractions that requires more than just a day trip. Not too long ago,
however, Providence rivaled other down-and-out New England cities with
an anemic skyline, not much nightlife and a feeling that things weren't
all that safe when strolling near-ghost town neighborhoods. It was, to
some outsiders, a city to pass through, pass out in, or take a pass on.
Now it is a world-class city, at least for several blocks. A visit to
Providence is highly recommended as an interesting, worthwhile
historical yet modern New England travel destination.
With determined state governmental and community involvement and
funding from private investment, federal grants, and city funding,
Providence somehow turned into a great city virtually overnight. All of
a sudden the arts scene blossomed, restaurants of all different
ethnicities opened seemingly every few feet, and beautification
projects revitalized buildings, homes and parks. The $500 million
Providence Place breathed much-needed retail life into the downtown
with a beautiful three-story shopping mall featuring 165 stores, as
well as some first-class restaurants in and around the area. Waterplace
Park provides a four-acre oasis in the heart of the city with a one
acre pond (leading to three city rivers), cobblestone promenade, an
amphitheater with events and entertainment, arched Venetian style
bridges over the water and charming, authentic gondolas and water taxis
to tour this great area. What really puts Waterplace Park over the top,
however, is "Waterfire" described on the Waterfire Web Site as having
"sparkling bonfires, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the
flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the silhouettes of the
firetenders passing by the flames, the torch-lit vessels traveling down
the river, and the enchanting music from across the world all engage
the senses and emotions of those who stroll the paths and bridges of
Waterplace Park." The description sounds phenomenal, but a visit to
this oasis even that much better!
Providence's remarkable transformation provides a synergy to already
nice neighborhoods, thus making the city a more complete travel
package. College Hill, on the eastern side of Providence, offers
brownstone architectural elegance and the Ivy League Brown University
and Rhode Island School of Design. It is perfect for a stroll to an
almost village-like area of shops and restaurants Thayer Street, North
and South Main Street, Waterman and Angell Street . Here, you can soak
in the college atmosphere and the stunning tree-lined middle to upper
class neighborhoods with some truly spectacular older homes.
College Hill central district
eastern side of College Hill is Wayland Square where the upscale
neighborhoods continue and another village-like downtown setting
includes a book store, art and toy shop, a deli, bakery, galleries and
an excellent casually elegant restaurant in the Red Stripe. It's hard
to believe Wayland Square is part of Providence, as the area seems more
like an upper class quiet suburb.
Federal Hill is a charming Italian neighborhood with a huge archway
welcoming visitors to bakeries, restaurants, pizza places and Italian
residents adding a charming flavor. Camille's is a wonderful, slightly
upscale place for great Italian food and Sicilia's has some of the best
pizza we've experienced in the northeast (offering equally good thin
and thick crust). Federal Hill is yet another Providence neighborhood
perfect for strolling.
It is interesting to juxtapose the modern with the historic when
visiting Providence. Compare modern the Providence Place shopping mall
with the Arcade on Westminster St. -- the first indoor shopping mall in
the United States that still houses 30-plus stores in its 1828
three-story, stucco rubble Greek Revival structure. This is typical of
Providence in the best sense, a city of historical preservation mixing
well with updates. Another great example of the "old and the new" is
also well documented by the modern financial district juxtaposed with
Benefit Street --with one of the largest concentration of colonial
homes in the United States, reminding us that select circles in
"Colonial America" had a few dollars also. The wealth then evolved into
a bustling industrial revolution and a city well-known for its jewelry
and silverware manufacturing. While all of that still exists in
Providence today, the theme has changed where high-tech, arts and
entertainment and tourism are now major players in the city's success.
While all the modern amenities have further enhanced Providence, it is
ultimately the history and culture that lends the city its true flavor.
Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian homes throughout the
myriad neighborhoods are a sight to behold,as is the 1753 Greek Revival
Providence Athenaeum Library, and a stunning-looking State House
(recently restored to its original glory with a $17 million renovation)
juxtaposed against the aforementioned modern Providence Place. The Tony
Award-winning Trinity Repertory Company, Providence Performing Arts
Center, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Museum of Art/Rhode Island
School of Design and alternative theater and dance productions give the
city myriad an amazing array of theater, fine arts and orchestral music
opportunities. Providence also has many things to do with the children,
including the large and entertaining Roger Williams Park and Zoo, a
terrific Children's Museum, and the aforementioned Providence Place.
We strongly recommend a visit to Providence as part of your New England
travel plans. Its sense of history and preservation and "new look" make
Providence a terrific travel destination.
For more information on Providence, visit the Providence Warwick
Convention and Visitors Bureau at http://www.goprovidence.com/.
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