Plymouth Colony reject minister Roger Williams founded Providence Rhode Island in 1636. He created the city (and ultimately the state) in accordance with his philosophy that people should be free to worship as they wish and that the state should have no authority over the church. Providence ended up becoming a haven for a wide range of religious rebels and independent thinkers who were bound only by civil law, rather than religious dictates. Although Williams himself helped establish the nation’s First Baptist Church, others were allowed to establish their own religions and churches. The Baptist Church, and several of the other original churches remain in the city.
The pretty, well-maintained downtown consists of dozens of dozens of mid-rise office and apartment buildings, several parks, and a couple of high-rise towers. Most notable is the 428-foot, 1928 Industrial (or Providence) National Bank building. It is affectionately called the Superman Building for its resemblance to the fictional Daily Planet Building of the original Superman television series.
And, since a river runs through it, Providence built a pretty Riverwalk.
Mile of History
The “Mile of History” is a lovely stretch of the Benefit Street Historic District and the immediately surrounding area. It is worth a stroll taking a stroll in the area. It is lined with:
- Residences in Federal, Victorian, Georgian, and many other styles from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The historic homes range from townhouses to 20,000-sq.ft. mansions such as the John Brown and Nightingale-Brown Houses.
- Cultural institutions including the Athenaeum (1844) a Greek Revival building. Founded in 1753, it is one of the country’s oldest libraries. Also check out the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.
- Government buildings, both old (especially the 1762 Old State House—where Rhode Island formally declared independence from Great Britain–and the Old Court) and new (Rhode Island Supreme Court). And looming down the hill is the large, white marble State Capitol.
- Religious Institutions including the first Baptist and Unitarian churches in the country.
- Educational Institutions, especially Brown University, a leading Ivy League research university that was founded in 1764.
But as architecturally beautiful as many of the district’s individual buildings are, and as interesting a history they may have, the District’s real beauty is in how they all fit into a lovely, historical, urban neighborhood.
Overall, Providence is a lovely mid-sized city.
Cafe Nuovo is located on the Riverwalk. We enjoyed two very nice dishes: artichoke tagliatelle with wood-grilled mushrooms and artichoke soubise, and grilled veal chop with pine nut and arugula, potato confit, and smoked broccoli rabe. Our wine was a very nice 2019 Evening Land Seven Springs, Eola-Amity Pinot Noir.
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