City of Providence - BondInv# GB5162 Bond
Unissued Bond. Superb vignette engraved by American Bank Note.
Providence is the capital and most populous city of the state of Rhode Island and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a Reformed Baptist theologian and religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of "God's merciful Providence" which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers. The city is situated at the mouth of the Providence River at the head of Narragansett Bay.
Providence was one of the first cities in the country to industrialize and became noted for its textile manufacturing and subsequent machine tool, jewelry, and silverware industries. Today, the city of Providence is home to eight hospitals and seven institutions of higher learning which have shifted the city's economy into service industries, though it still retains some manufacturing activity.
Providence was settled in June 1636 by Puritan theologian Roger Williams and grew into one of the original Thirteen Colonies. As a minister in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Williams had advocated for the separation of church and state and condemned colonists' confiscation of land from Native Americans. For these "diverse, new, and dangerous opinions," he was convicted of sedition and heresy and banished from the colony. Williams and others established a settlement in Rumford, Rhode Island. The group later moved down the Seekonk River, around the point now known as Fox Point and up the Providence River to the confluence of the Moshassuck and Woonasquatucket Rivers. Here they established a new settlement they termed "Providence Plantations."
Unlike Salem and Boston, Providence lacked a royal charter. The settlers thus organized themselves, allotting tracts on the eastern side of the Providence River in 1638. Roughly six acres each, these home lots extended from Towne Street (now South Main Street) to Hope Street.
In 1652, Providence prohibited African and African American slavery for periods of longer than 10 years. This statute constituted the first anti-slavery law in the United States, though there is no evidence the prohibition was ever enforced.
In March of 1676, Providence Plantations was burned to the ground by the Narragansetts as part of King Philip's War. Later in the year, the Rhode Island legislature formally rebuked the other colonies for provoking the war.
In 1770, Brown University moved to Providence from nearby Warren. At the time, the college was known as Rhode Island College and occupied a single building on College Hill. The college's choice to relocate to Providence as opposed to Newport symbolized a larger shift away from the latter city's commercial and political dominance over the state.
Providence residents were among the first Patriots to spill blood in the lead-up to the American Revolutionary War during the Gaspee Affair of 1772, and Rhode Island was the first of the Thirteen Colonies to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown on May 4, 1776. It was also the last of the Thirteen States to ratify the United States Constitution on May 29, 1790, once assurances were made that a Bill of Rights would become part of the Constitution.
Following the war, Providence was the nation's ninth-largest city with 7,614 people. The economy shifted from maritime endeavors to manufacturing, in particular machinery, tools, silverware, jewelry, and textiles. By the start of the 20th century, Providence hosted some of the largest manufacturing plants in the country, including Brown & Sharpe, Nicholson File, and Gorham Manufacturing Company.
Providence residents ratified a city charter in 1831 as the population passed 17,000. The seat of city government was located in the Market House in Market Square from 1832 to 1878, which was the geographic and social center of the city. The city offices soon outgrew this building, and the City Council resolved to create a permanent municipal building in 1845. The city offices moved into Providence City Hall in 1878.
Local politics split over slavery during the American Civil War, as many had ties to Southern cotton and the slave trade. Despite ambivalence concerning the war, the number of military volunteers routinely exceeded quota, and the city's manufacturing proved invaluable to the Union. Providence thrived after the war, and waves of immigrants brought the population from 54,595 in 1865 to 175,597 by 1900.
By the early 1900s, Providence was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. Immigrant labor powered one of the nation's largest industrial manufacturing centers. Providence was a major manufacturer of industrial products, from steam engines to precision tools to silverware, screws, and textiles. Giant companies were based in or near Providence, such as Brown & Sharpe, the Corliss Steam Engine Company, Babcock & Wilcox, the Grinnell Corporation, the Gorham Manufacturing Company, Nicholson File, and the Fruit of the Loom textile company.
From 1975 until 1982, $606 million of local and national community development funds were invested throughout the city. In the 1990s, the city pushed for revitalization, realigning the north-south railroad tracks, removing the huge rail viaduct that separated Downtown from the capitol building, uncovering and moving the rivers (which had been covered by paved bridges) to create Waterplace Park and river walks along the rivers' banks, and constructing the Fleet Skating Rink (now the Alex and Ani City Center) and the Providence Place Mall.
In the early 2000s, Providence developed an economic development plan that outlined a planned shift to a knowledge economy. These efforts involved the rebranding of the formerly industrial Jewelry District as a new "Knowledge District"
Despite new investment, poverty remains an entrenched problem. Approximately 27.9 percent of the city population is living 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.
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