Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau

Turks Head

Providence Walks: Downtown Historic Tour

This walking tour is self-guided.

The geographical, political, economic and cultural core of Rhode Island’s capital, Providence’s downtown neighborhood is bordered by the Providence River and Interstate 95. Colonial Providence was born on the East Side along the Providence River, but with both the success of the mercantile trade and the industrial revolution, the small city expanded west. Providence became a bustling manufacturing town and by the late 19th century, the city was the transportation hub of southeastern New England due to the extensive railroad network. 

The 20th century was an era that started with optimism, followed by the harsh reality of the depression and, ultimately, a transition for downtown. This era also saw the creation of Providence's modern skyline with new Art Deco structures, now icons of the this prosperous time in Providence's history. 

Today, downtown Providence is a vibrant mix of nationally recognized arts and cultural institutions, top-ranked restaurants, world-renowned universities, creative industries, financial and legal firms, and locally owned businesses earning the city the name, “The Creative Capital.” Preservation and an appreciation for architecture and history are a constant thread in this neighborhood’s story.

This tour was researched and written by Amelia Golcheski.

View an interactive map of the walking tour with descriptions and photos of each stop. Learn More ›

Meet some of the personalities that took part in the formation of downtown Providence. Learn More ›

A timeline of important events starting with the arrival of Roger Williams to the creation of... Learn More ›

Dining Downtown

The heart of the city, downtown Providence is compact and walkable, with most restaurants,...