1. Nope, Providence Isn’t In Massachusetts Or New York
No, Providence, Rhode Island isn’t the same place as Provincetown, Massachusetts. Rhode Island isn’t Long Island, New York, either. It’s the city of Providence in the state of Rhode Island. Get a map and shut your trap.
2. And It’s Not On An Island, Either
No, Providence isn’t a city on an island even though the state is named Rhode Island. And Rhode Island isn’t really the full name of the state, either. It’s Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Yes, it has to be explained because apparently geography class teaches kids nothing these days.
3. But It Really Is As Small As It Looks
Just because Providence is the biggest city in the state doesn’t mean that it’s in any way big. The entire state is just as small as the speck you see on the map, making Providence a sort of city-state.
4. And It’s Divided Up Even Smaller
As if Providence isn’t small enough, it’s broken down into a ton of different neighborhoods. You’ve got East side, Federal Hill, Swan Point, Fox Point, Olneyville, Down City, Silver Lake, West End, South Providence, Mt. Pleasant, College Hill, and so on.
5. People In Providence Don’t Leave Unless They Have To
People in Rhode Island live in their own little neighborhood bubbles. They don’t leave their neighborhood unless it’s important. More so, they don’t leave the city unless it’s an extremely pressing issue. And they don’t leave the state unless it’s an outright emergency.
6. Down City Vs. Downtown
Some people call it Downtown while others call it Down City. Down City is the older style, but still frequently used among certain crowds and will definitely get you an attitude from the people who use downtown.
7. Your Neighbors Are Either DJs, VJs Or Both
The city is known for its huge club scene. Depending on what circles you run with, it’s possible to know more DJs than non-DJs. And VJ Day is really hard to explain to outsiders. Mainly because…
8. Everyone In Providence Ignores Pauly D
Pauly D is the most widely known DJ to surface from the scene. But it’s not something anyone is exactly happy about. They’d much rather just pretend like he’s actually from Jersey or that he doesn’t exist at all.
9. But They Still Love Buddy Cianci
The longest serving mayor of Providence, Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, Jr., ended up serving time for charges including assault and racketeering. But did that change residents’ perception of him? Not a bit. Most people agree that the city did well under his watch. Cianci went on to make his own spaghetti sauce line and host his own local talk show—and guess what? He’s running for mayor again!
10. The Party Scene Is Much Bigger Than The Credit It Gets
DJs don’t always get the best reputation, especially when you’ve got Pauly D as your embarrassing front runner. But the party scene in Providence is unrivaled and is actually full of a lot of extremely talented musicians and artists. They just don’t get the props they deserve.
11. Ditto For The Food Scene
Providence is home to the world’s largest culinary school, Johnson & Wales University. Because of that, the city has more degreed chefs per capita than any other city in the country. And no one from the cast of the Jersey Shore is involved to steal their spotlight. Travel + Leisure even named Providence as one of the best culinary destinations in the U.S.
12. The Drag Scene Is No Joke Either
Providence has become something of an LGBT mecca. You’ll have no problem finding gay clubs and bars. And the former mayor was the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. capital. Stop by on Thursday nights at EGO Providence for amateur drag queen night and prepare yourself for one of the best times in the city.
13. And Big Nazo At Honk Fest
Source: Providence Honk Fest Facebook
If the Muppets had a love child with Gwar, it would be something like Big Nazo. The group is always a beacon of creativity and entertainment, with their work often spilling out on to the streets of Providence, especially during Honk Fest.
14. Coffee Milk Or Kawfee Milk
Source: Flickr user spablab
Coffee Milk is like the coffee/caffeine-lover’s alternative to chocolate milk. It’s sweetened concentrated coffee syrup milked in with milk and is completely delicious. That’s why it’s the official state drink of Rhode Island.
15. Ordering An Extra, Extra Isn’t A Mistake
If you hear someone order an “extra, extra” here –and you will- they’re ordering a coffee with extra cream and extra sugar. It’s just the way to order here, especially since everyone likes theirs extra, extra. The sweeter, the better.
16. It’s Built Like Rome
Source: Flickr user Wil C. Fry
San Francisco isn’t the only city built on hills. Providence can get pretty darn steep in places. The city claims that it’s built on seven hills just like Rome. It’s all well and good and can actually provide quite the glute workout. Until winter sets in. Then it’s every man for himself. You learn to use the emergency break quite a bit.
17. People In Providence Go Two Weiners All The Way
Source: Sparky’s Coney Island System Facebook
Hot dogs are a big deal here. Or, better known as wieners. Or if you’re at Sparky’s, they’re better known as gaggas. Whatever you call them, they’re small hot dogs with a mystery meat sauce similar to chili. Ordering them “all the way” gets you one loaded with mustard, raw onions, meat sauce, and celery salt.
No one has ever accused them of being gourmet cuisine, but they’re delicious nonetheless.
18. And They Go GaGa For Ice Cream
Source: Gaga Gourmet Facebook
Weiners aren’t the only thing to go gaga for in Providence. If you took inventory of every freezer around the city, you would find a GaGa Frozen Dessert and Ice Cream in at least 75 percent of them. Keep your Ben & Jerry’s, Vermont, because GaGa’s is where it’s at.
19. Mr. Potato Head Is The Unofficial Hero
Source: Flickr user Daniel DeCristo
You might have noticed someone driving around with a Mr. Potato Head license plate and assumed they were just a fan. Then you saw two, three, or 10 more and knew something was up. That’s because the home to Mr. Potato Head is just outside city limits and the people here take great pride in him.
The first decade of the century saw Mr. Potato Head statues strewn across Providence which were actually sworn in by the then-governor as the travel ambassadors (or “spokesbuds”) or the city. Many of the statues have relocated now, but Mr. Potato Head is still their homeboy.
20. Drinking From A Bubblah
Source: Flickr user Indigo Skies Photography
A water fountain? What the heck is that? Here in Providence, it’s just called a bubblah.
21. Providence People Are A New York-Boston Hybrid
Source: YouTube user Ramon Garcia
Providence is part of New England and has many ties to the Boston-metro area. But, they’re also fairly close to New York City. So you’ll find a pretty big mixture of Yankees and Red Sox fans all over the state. The accent is the best example of this hybrid with an influence from both regions running through the dialect, but only in certain words and phrases.
22. This Small City Has Big Brains
Source: Brown University Facebook
Ivy League Brown University. The famed Rhode Island School of Design (RISD.) Rhode Island College. Providence College. Johnson and Wales University. They’re all located within Providence limits, boosting the brain power here per square inch.
23. Yes, There’s A Big “Family Guy” Connection
Creator of the Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane, attended RISD with hopes of getting into animation with Disney. Obviously, he took a very a different route and created Family Guy, an animated series about a crude Rhode Island family and their dog. Everyone here knows the show, of course. But they’re more than a little annoyed by the ridiculously over-hyped accent of the characters.
24. Johnnycakes Are Everywhere
A Johnnycake is a common dish found around New England. It’s basically cornmeal flatbread and it is said to have originated in Rhode Island. Try to find a diner in Providence that doesn’t have it on the menu.
25. Fires On The River Are No Cause For Alarm
If you happen to be passing by the Woonasquatucket River and notice that it’s, oh, I don’t know, on FIRE, don’t panic. It’s no big deal. It’s just WaterFire, an art installation that has become a cool tradition of Providence.
26. They’re Not Clams, They’re Quahogs
You might be tempted to order clams. But don’t. Here, you order quahogs, pronounced like “KAW-hogs.” Or even acceptably as “KO-hogs.” Not coincidentally, Quahog is the name of the fictional town in Family Guy.
27. The Crescent Park Carousel Really Costs $1
This hand-carved carousel has been a landmark of East Providence since the late 19th century. It was declared by the Rhode Island General Assembly as the “State Jewel Of American Folk Art.” It’s still there, and you can still ride it for $1.
28. Del’s Lemonade Is Liquid Happiness
No proper lunch in Providence is complete without it.
29. Cheesy Bacon Fries From Haven Brother’s Diner
You’d never guess it if you didn’t know better, but Haven Brother’s is an actual diner and is one of the oldest restaurants on wheels in the country. It was founded in 1888 as a horse drawn lunch wagon.
Feature Image Source: Big Nazo Facebook
What have you had to explain to out-of-towners about Providence? Tell us in the comments below!