43 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ProvidenceThat spoon you’re using probably came from Providence.
1. Providence has the most coffee and donut shops per capita of any city in the country, with over 25 doughnut shops per 100,000 people.
Source: Flickr user See-ming Lee2. Brown University’s John Hay Library contains three books bound in human skin, including, fittingly, “On the Structure of the Human Body.” 3. The Big Blue Bug, also known as Nibbles Woodaway, is located along I-95 in Providence and is the world’s largest artificial bug. The blue termite is 928 times the size of an actual termite.
Source: Big Blue Bug Solutions via Facebook4. Going to traffic court in Providence? You might become a star of ABC’s “Caught in Providence,” a Judge Judy type show that has real (and outlandish) people arguing their speeding tickets with Judge Frank Caprio. 5. Providence is the largest manufacturer of silverware in the world.
Source: Flickr user Martin Cathrae6. A 12-foot high Gun Totem stands outside Providence’s Federal Courthouse. The totem contains over 1,000 guns recovered from a buy-back program. 7. Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s house is in Providence. The house served as a model for the home of the protagonist of “The Haunter of the Dark.” 8. H.P. Lovecraft’s grave can be found in Swan Point Cemetery, with an inscription that reads “I Am Providence.”
Source: Wikimedia user FlickreviewR9. The Biltmore Hotel is regarded as the most haunted spot in Providence due to the score of murders during Prohibition years. The hotel served as inspiration for Steven King’s “Overlook Hotel” and Robert Bloch’s “Bates Motel.”
Source: iprefer.com10. Providence has been named one of the “Best Lesbian Places to Live” and has a 75% higher rate of gay and lesbian relationships than the rest of the country.
Source: Flickr user Jef Nickerson11. The largest gay bathhouse in New England is located in Providence. 12. The first diner is credited to Providence resident Walter Scott, who sold sandwiches, pies, and coffee outside the “Providence Journal” offices in 1872. 13. The city has the most restaurants per capita, in part because of the high number of graduates from culinary fields from Johnson and Wales University.
Source: Los Andes Restaurant via Facebook14. The Westminster Arcade, also known as the Providence Arcade, is America’s first enclosed shopping mall, which may explain the classical look. 15. Former mayor Buddy Cianci is credited with making the unofficial Providence maxim: “Be careful–the foot you step on today could be attached to the a** you need to kiss tomorrow.” Cianci was also Providence’s longest-serving mayor, so there is definitely some wisdom in those words.
Source: Flickr user goaliej5416. 75% of Rhode Island’s inhabitants live within 15 miles of Providence. 17. Providence is home to the First Baptist Church in America, which has been around since 1775. 18. Writer of “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” George M. Cohan, was born in Providence in 1878. 19. It is illegal to jump off a bridge in Providence.
Source: Flickr user Aza Raskin20. The sinking of the British boat The Gaspee in the Narragansett Bay between Newport and Providence was the first American military action of the Revolutionary War. 21. Like Rome, Providence claims to be founded on seven hills. 22. Former mayor David Cicilline was the first openly gay mayor of a US state capital. 23. The Providence Children’s Museum features a massive dragon that hangs off the roof and may or may not come to life at night.
Source: Providence Children’s Museum via Facebook24. Edgar Allen Poe’s most notable love interest and one of the best female poets of her time, Sarah Helen Whitman, was a lifelong resident of Providence. 25. Providence was able to remain relatively untouched throughout the American Revolution because the city freely traded with both sides of the conflict. 26. Rhode Island was first settled in 1636 by Roger Williams under the name Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, which is still the official state name. Providence Plantation was the nucleus of the new colony. 27. Providence was once nicknamed the “Beehive of Industry,” but has rebranded itself as the “Creative Capital” in recent years. 28. WaterFire is an award-winning installation of 81 braziers in the Woonasquatucket River that brings around 40,000 spectators a year.
Source: Flickr user hlkljgk29. Fort Thunder is the nexus of Providence’s popping underground music scene. 30. Prospect Terrace Park is a great place to overlook the “downcity” of Providence, and was frequented by H.P. Lovecraft.
Source: Flickr user taberandrew31. The Rhode Island State House in Providence boasts 4th-largest self-supporting marble dome in the world, bested only by the Minnesota State Capitol, the Taj Mahal, and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Source: Wikimedia user Flickr upload bot32. The Providence Athenaeum is the fourth oldest library in the country.
Source: Flickr user angela n.33. Providence’s sister cities include Florence, Riga, Santo Domingo, and Guatemala City. 34. The heaviest bell made by Paul Revere & Son is located in the First Unitarian Church in Providence. 35. Brown University was chartered in 1764 and is the state’s oldest institution of higher education.
Source: Flickr user Internet Archive Book Images36. Benefit Street is known as the “Mile of History” because it contains the largest single collection of unmoved historic buildings. 37. In 1792, Elijah Ormsbee piloted one of the first steam-powered boats in the world, dubbed the “Experiment,” which went on 3 MPH trip between Providence and Pawtucket. 38. The costume jewelry business began in Providence in 1794 when a new method for plating base metal with gold was discovered. Today, the state employs 35,000 people in jewelry manufacturing and distribution.
Source: Flickr user redfilter2539. Everyone knows Providence is Rhode Island’s capital, but until 1854, there were five separate capitals. In 1854, the capitals were cut down to Newport and Providence, with Providence becoming the sole capital in 1901. 40. At the turn of the 20th century, Providence had the largest tool factory, file factory, engine factory, screw factory, and silverware factory in the world. 41. Providence is home to the Tony award-winning Trinity Repertory Company. 42. Longtime mob boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca was headquartered in Providence from 1954 to 1984. The Patriarca crime family’s control extended throughout New England. 43. Roger Williams Park Zoo is the 3rd oldest zoo in the country, and today houses over 100 species.
Source: Roger Williams Park Zoo via FacebookWhat’s your favorite Providence fun fact? Tell us in the comments below!
Zip Codes and Neighborhoods in Providence, RI
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