Providence Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Providence

Providence, the capital of Rhode Island, is one of the state's oldest and most beautiful cities whose new architecture blends harmoniously with historic buildings, e.g. in places like College Hill, where Gothic and Georgian styles create a fascinating mix of colors and shapes. The city is a home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, among many other notable attractions. To explore the most popular sights of Providence, follow this orientation walk.
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Providence Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Providence Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Providence (See other walking tours in Providence)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 18
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles
Author: alice
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Kennedy Plaza
  • Providence City Hall
  • Westminster Arcade
  • Sol Koffler Graduate Student Gallery at RISD
  • Providence Performing Arts Center
  • Rhode Island Convention Center
  • Providence Place
  • Veterans Memorial Auditorium Arts & Cultural Center
  • Rhode Island State House
  • Cathedral of St. John
  • Old State House
  • Prospect Terrace Park and statue of Roger Williams
  • Brown University
  • John Carter Brown Library
  • John Brown Museum
  • First Unitarian Church of Providence
  • Governor Stephen Hopkins House
  • Benefit Street
Kennedy Plaza

1) Kennedy Plaza

Kennedy Plaza, originally known as City Hall Park, was built in 1848. The name changed to Kennedy Plaza in 1964. The plaza is beautiful and full of life. Adjacent to Kennedy Plaza are Providence City Hall, Providence Federal Building, Burnside Park, the Bank of America skating center and other important buildings. Several statues and memorials are located on the plaza, including the Spanish American War Memorial.
Providence City Hall

2) Providence City Hall (must see)

Providence City Hall is the center of the municipal government in Providence, and is located at the west end of Kennedy Plaza. Built in 1878, Providence City Hall is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. President Teddy Roosevelt spoke on the City Hall steps on August 23, 1902, and John F. Kennedy spoke on November 7, 1960, just before he was elected president. In 2000 Friedrich St. Florian designed outdoor plaques for the building. Haven Brothers Diner, a Rhode Island landmark, is wheeled out next to the City Hall every evening.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Westminster Arcade

3) Westminster Arcade

The Westminster Arcade or Providence Arcade was a historic shopping center in Providence. It was the first enclosed shopping mall in the United States, built in 1828. It was closed in 2008 " in preparation for a major renovation of the mall’s interior, according to the Providence Preservation Society", and remains closed.

Built by Russell Warren and James Bucklin in the Greek rectilinear temple style, the Arcade is replete with Ionic columns at either end. After falling into disrepair, it was rehabilitated by architects Irving B. Haynes & Associates and Gilbane Properties, and reopened in 1980.

Its three stories were host to a diverse array of tenants including a number of primarily weekday lunch restaurants on the ground floor and a jewelry shop, clothing shops, a sci-fi/fantasy book shop, a game shop, and local non-profits on upper floors. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Sol Koffler Graduate Student Gallery at RISD

4) Sol Koffler Graduate Student Gallery at RISD (must see)

Sol Koffler Graduate Student Gallery at RISD displays the work of graduate students at the Rhode Island School of Design. The pieces are very interesting, and the gallery provides a first look at tomorrow's great artists. The gallery is free and open to the public. It is open daily from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Providence Performing Arts Center

5) Providence Performing Arts Center (must see)

The Providence Performing Arts Center is a multi-use theatre located at 220 Weybosset Street. The building was a Loew's State Movie Palace and opened in 1928. Providence Performing Arts Center contains over 3000 seats and hosts touring Broadway shows, concerts, plays, films, and a variety of performers.

The theatre was almost torn down in the late 1970s. But it survived and, beginning in 1999 was extensively remodeled and largely restored to its original 1928 opulence. Providence Performing Arts Center now anchors the Providence arts and entertainment district and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Loew's State Theatre.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Rhode Island Convention Center

6) Rhode Island Convention Center

The Rhode Island Convention Center is an exposition center in downtown Providence. Built in 1994, it is the largest convention center in Rhode Island, with about 130,000 square feet (12,000 m2) of exhibition space, including a 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) exhibit hall. It is connected to the Dunkin Donuts Center. It is also adjacent to the Westin Hotel Providence. The center currently houses a mural painted by Jeffery Gutterman.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Providence Place

7) Providence Place

Providence Place is an urban shopping mall, currently owned by GGP Inc. It is located in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, near the Rhode Island State House and Providence Station.
The mall became the largest shopping mall in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations with its opening in 1999, with a total of 1,400,000 sq ft (130,000 m2) gross leasable area. It was originally anchored by Lord & Taylor, Filene's, and Nordstrom; Lord & Taylor was later replaced by J. C. Penney, which itself was replaced with an expanded parking garage following the latter store's closure in 2015.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Veterans Memorial Auditorium Arts & Cultural Center

8) Veterans Memorial Auditorium Arts & Cultural Center

Construction on the Veterans Memorial Auditorium Arts & Cultural Center began in 1928, but the Great Depression and WWII temporarily halted the project; the center wasn't completed until 1950. This American Eclectic-style building is a great venue for concerts and other large events. In the 1970s it was remodeled and now can accommodate 1,900 people. The center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Rhode Island State House

9) Rhode Island State House (must see)

The Rhode Island State House is the capitol of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. It is located on the border of the Downtown and Smith Hill sections of the state capital city of Providence. The State House is a neoclassical building that houses the Rhode Island General Assembly and the offices of the governor of Rhode Island as well as the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and General Treasurer of Rhode Island. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building was designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White and constructed from 1895 to 1904. The building had a major renovation in the late 1990s. The Rhode Island State House is composed of 327,000 cubic feet (9,300 m3) of white Georgia marble, 15 million bricks, and 1,309 short tons (1,188 t) of iron floor beams. Inside the State House is carved marble. Over the pillared porticoes are quotations and historical chronologies of Rhode Island. Throughout the rotunda are battle flags, statues, and guns representing the state's military past. In the center of the rotunda, under the marble dome, is a brass replica of the state seal.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cathedral of St. John

10) Cathedral of St. John

The Cathedral of St. John, located at 271 North Main Street, is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island of The Episcopal Church. The parish was originally organized in 1722 as King's Church, a wooden structure that was renamed St John's Church in 1794. That building served Providence until 1810 when work began on what would become the Cathedral of St. John. The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island was formed in 1790, but it was not until 1929 that St John's Church was designated the Episcopal seat and was renamed the Cathedral of St. John.

The cornerstone for St. John's Church was laid in 1810 and the church was dedicated in 1811. The building was designed by Federal-era architect John Holden Greene, who designed many buildings in Providence. A Cathedral corporation was formed in 1909 and in 1929, the church was designated the Episcopal seat. The building was renovated in 1855, 1866, 1906, and 1967, and still retains its architectural integrity, but is in a state of deterioration and was listed on the Providence Preservation Society 10 Most Endangered Properties List in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Old State House

11) Old State House

The Old State House on College Hill, known also as Providence Sixth District Court House, is located on 150 Benefit Street. It is a brick Georgian-style building completed largely in 1762. It was used as the meeting place for the colonial and state legislatures for 149 years.

From colonial times to the mid-19th century, the Rhode Island General Assembly rotated meetings between the state's five county court houses, and five former Rhode Island state houses survive nowadays. In 1760 The General Assembly built the Old State House to replace an earlier wooden courthouse built 1730 on Meeting Street. It was largely finished by 1762 with some details being completed by 1771. Many of the Georgian architecture details were borrowed from the larger and more ornate Newport Colony House. Before 19th century alterations to the Providence State House, the two buildings resembled one another greatly. In the 19th century the large center-front tower was added. After 1853 the state legislature ceased meeting at Kent, Washington and Bristol county courthouses, but continued to alternate its sessions between here and the Newport State House in Newport into the early 20th century.At the Old State House on May 4, 1776, the General Assembly declared its independence renouncing its allegiance to the British crown, and the date is now celebrated as Rhode Island Independence Day. Debates about slavery occurred in the building in the late 18th century. George Washington visited the building in 1781 and 1790.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Prospect Terrace Park and statue of Roger Williams

12) Prospect Terrace Park and statue of Roger Williams (must see)

Prospect Terrace Park is located on Congdon Street in the College Hill neighborhood of Providence. The park, founded in 1867, overlooks the city's "downcity." Author and Providence native H. P. Lovecraft frequently visited the park.

A statue of theologian Roger Williams was built in the late 1930s after Williams' descendant Stephen Randall made a deed of gift for the monument. The 35-foot stone statue commemorates Williams' founding of the state of Rhode Island and his promotion for religious freedom. The statue depicts Williams gazing over the city.

In 1939, Roger Williams remains were moved into a tomb that lies directly beneath the statue. His body had been overgrown by the roots of an apple tree next to his original grave. The roots grew over the form of his body, so that it looked identical to a human form. The remainder of his bones were reburied in a bronze casket and placed beneath his statue in Prospect Terrace. The so-called "William's Root" is preserved and is now on display at the John Brown House Museum on the East Side of Providence.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Brown University

13) Brown University (must see)

Brown University is a private, Ivy League university located in Providence. Founded in 1764 prior to American independence from the British Empire as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations early in the reign of King George III (1760–1820), Brown is the third oldest institution of higher education in New England and seventh oldest in the United States. Brown was the first college in the nation to accept students regardless of religious affiliation.

Brown's main campus is located atop College Hill, in the East Side, across the Providence River from downtown Providence. This is the where the University was relocated in 1770 after it was first established in Warren, Rhode Island, in 1764. The main campus consists of 235 buildings and covers 143 acres (0.58 km2). A salient feature of Brown's campus is that many of the academic departments reside in smaller, Victorian-era houses that the University has acquired over the years from the surrounding neighborhood.

Adjacent to Brown's main campus, and further down the Hill to the west by the Providence River, is the campus of the Rhode Island School of Design. Thayer Street, which runs through Brown's campus, is a commercial district that hosts many restaurants and shops popular with students and faculty from Brown and RISD.
Sight description based on wikipedia
John Carter Brown Library

14) John Carter Brown Library

The John Carter Brown Library, founded in 1846, is administered separately from the Brown University, but has been located on the Main Green of the campus since 1904. It is generally regarded as the world's leading collection of primary historical sources pertaining to the Americas before 1825. It houses a very large percentage of the titles published before that date about the discovery, settlement, history, and natural history of the New World.

The "JCB", as it is known, publishes Bibliotheca Americana, the main bibliography in the field. Typical of its noteworthy holdings is the best preserved of the seven surviving copies of Bay Psalm Book, the first extant book printed in British North America. There is also a very fine Shakespeare First Folio, added to the collection by John Carter Brown's widow (a Shakespeare enthusiast) on the grounds that it includes The Tempest, a play set in the New World.

The JCB holdings comprise more than 50,000 early titles and about 16,000 modern books, as well as prints, manuscripts, maps, and other items in the library's specialty. The library occupies a Beaux-Arts style building designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge. The 1904 edifice was expanded in 1990 by architects Hartman-Cox of Washington, D.C.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 9am - 5 pm, Thursday: until 7:00.
Sight description based on wikipedia
John Brown Museum

15) John Brown Museum (must see)

The John Brown House is the first mansion built in Providence. It is located along Power Street on College Hill, which is adjacent to the borders of Brown University. The house is named after the original owner and one of the early benefactors of the University, the early American merchant and statesman John Brown. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968.

John Quincy Adams considered the house "the most magnificent and elegant private mansion that I have ever seen on this continent." The original structure was built in 1786 by John Brown. Notable guests during this time include George Washington, who is reported to have visited for tea. The house was sold in 1901 to the prominent Rhode Island industrialist and banker Marsden J. Perry. Under Marsden's supervision, the extension was renovated to add in modern bathrooms and central heating systems.

In 1942, the Brown family donated the house to the Rhode Island Historical Society for preservation. The house was restored to its original colonial decor. The museum now contains many original furniture pieces provided by the Brown family estate.
Sight description based on wikipedia
First Unitarian Church of Providence

16) First Unitarian Church of Providence (must see)

First Unitarian Church of Providence was built from ashlar-laid white stone and represents a combination of the Classic and Gothic architectural styles. The present structure is the third church to be built on this site. It was designed by architect John Holden Greene in 1816. The interior of the church is beautiful and features a mixture of Gothic, Baroque and Federal design elements. The ceiling is elegantly shaped in the form of a medallion. The most striking sight in the church is the balcony pulpit, which is supported by Ionic columns. The church has an organ that was made in 1968 by M. P. Moller. This organ replaced the previous one that was destroyed during a fire in 1966.
Governor Stephen Hopkins House

17) Governor Stephen Hopkins House (must see)

The Governor Stephen Hopkins House, built in 1708, is a museum that was the home of Stephen Hopkins, a governor of Rhode Island and signatory of the Declaration of Independence.

Stephen Hopkins purchased the house in 1743 and made a large two story addition to the original house that was built in 1708. The house is now owned and managed by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Benefit Street

18) Benefit Street

The most impressive concentration of original Colonial homes in America. Beautifully restored houses, churches and museums overlook the city's historic waterfront.

Walking Tours in Providence, Rhode Island

Create Your Own Walk in Providence

Create Your Own Walk in Providence

Creating your own self-guided walk in Providence is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Providence Art Galleries Tour, Part 2

Providence Art Galleries Tour, Part 2

Providence is nicknamed "the creative capital” in part because of its amazing array of art galleries and studios. Art lovers will be stunned by the quality and variety of work on display. Take this tour to visit some of Providence's most popular galleries.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Providence Landmarks Tour

Providence Landmarks Tour

Providence is a beautiful city located on the banks of the Providence River, nearly as old as the United States themselves. It has many interesting historic and architectural landmarks. Take this tour to visit some of Providence's most notable sights.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Providence Shopping Tour

Providence Shopping Tour

Providence is a great destination for those who enjoy shopping. The city was once the capital of industry in the U.S., and today it is considered the country's “creative capital”. Take the following tour to visit some of Providence's most popular art galleries, antique stores, jewelry stores and other notable shops.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Providence Architecture Tour

Providence Architecture Tour

Providence is a beautiful city that was founded on the banks of the Providence River in 1636 by Roger Williams. The combination of old and new architecture makes for a fascinating cityscape. Take this tour to enjoy some of Providence's architectural landmarks.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Providence Museums Tour

Providence Museums Tour

Providence was established in 1636 and is one of the original thirteen colonies of the U.S. The city has a long history, and over the years has been home to many well-known artists, politicians, writers and more. This fascinating heritage is reflected in the city's numerous museums and historic houses. Take this tour to visit the best museums the city has to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Providence Art Galleries Tour, Part 1

Providence Art Galleries Tour, Part 1

Providence is a creative city that is home to numerous art galleries and studios. On your trip to Providence, you can view important pieces from the past, as well as cutting edge work from modern artists. Take this tour to visit Providence's most notable art galleries.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles