Providence is a city located in Providence County, Rhode Island. With a 2020 population of 178,901, it is the largest city in Rhode Island and the 146th largest city in the United States. Providence is currently declining at a rate of -0.12% annually but its population has increased by 0.48% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 178,042 in 2010. Providence reached it's highest population of 253,504 in 1940. Spanning over 21 miles, Providence has a population density of 9,720 people per square mile.
The average household income in Providence is $68,769 with a poverty rate of 26.01%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $972 per month, and the median house value is $192,100. The median age in Providence is 30 years, 29.9 years for males, and 30.2 years for females. For every 100 females there are 93.1 males.
The city was founded in 1636, making it one of the oldest cities in the nation.
Approximately 14% of the total population is of Italian ancestry. The city also has a large Jewish community that makes up about 5% of the population. Many immigrants from all over the world live in Providence, with many originally hailing from Brazil, Portugal, and Cape Verde.
Providence has a higher rate of property crime than the national average. The rate of violent crimes is about equal to the national average.
The largest employer in the city is Brown University, which employs over 4% of city residents. Other top employers include Rhode Island Hospital, Life Span, Women & Infants Hospital and the Roger Williams Medical Center.
Providence Population Growth
Providence was once on the largest cities in the nation, and it experienced rapid growth in its early history. By the time of the 20th century, the population was nearing 200,000. That number was exceeded by the time of the 1910 census. The community continued to grow until it peaked at 253,504 according to the 1940 poll. However, each 10-year census following through 1980 showed that the population was on the decline, dropping to below 200,000 in 1970 until the population rose again in the '90s. Recent estimates show that the current population is around 0.7% higher than the numbers posted during the 2010 census, indicating that revitalization efforts by the city could be working, despite the financial troubles faced by many residents.
Providence was first settled in 1636 by Roger Williams. The area was one of the original colonies of the United States. The city was founded after Williams withdrew from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and it quickly became an area where persecuted dissenters settled.
Providence was the first colony to renounce allegiance to the British in 1776 and later was the last of the colonies to ratify the Constitution, only doing so after it was assured that the Bill of Rights would be included.
After the American Revolution, Providence was the ninth-largest city in the country by population. In its earliest history, the economy revolved around maritime activity but following the war, this changed. Instead, the economy was based around manufacturing products including - but not limited - to textiles, machinery, and jewelry. This would continue throughout the city’s history, later attracting manufacturers including Gorham Silverware and Brown & Sharpe.
Providence was incorporated as a city in 1832. The city only continued to grow, with the population climbing significantly during the Civil War. Because of its manufacturing, the city thrived during this time.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Providence was one of the wealthiest cities in the country. Its manufacturing industry was thriving, and many immigrants came to the area to work in the city’s industrial manufacturing centers. More companies went to the area, including Fruit of the Loom and Babcock & Wilcox.
Later, in the 1970s, millions of dollars were spent to revitalize the city. This including uncovering the rivers that were paved over, creating river walks and constructing the Providence Place Mall. Today, the city is broken up into 25 official neighborhoods. Providence is home to many attractions, including parks, shopping centers, restaurants, historic landmarks, and buildings. As with most post-industrial cities, poverty is now a problem, with close to 28% of the total population living below the federal poverty line according to the recent census information. Recent increases in median housing prices have further contributed to this problem. The city has also been working on rebranding itself to emphasize its cultural and educational opportunities.