Providence, Rhode Island, with a population of approximately 177,000 (2005 U.S. Census) is the capital and the most populous city of the state. The city received its name from Roger Williams, who was expelled by the Puritans in Massachusetts, to signify his appreciation of finding a location to settle in honor of "God's merciful Providence." Williams is said to have secured a title of sorts from the local Narragansett tribe. During the push by the British government to levy heavy taxes on Providence's maritime and fishing community, they decided to join the other colonies that were renouncing allegiance to the Crown.
After the establishment of the United States, Providence's economic development shifted from maritime endeavors to the manufacturing of machine tools, silverware, jewelry, and textiles. These new industries attracted many immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, England, Italy, Portugal, Cape Verde, and French Canada. As a result, the city experienced social unrest during the 1820's between whites and blacks. During the mid-1920s the city was hit hard as industries shutdown during The Great Depression. Further decline as a result of the nation-wide construction of highways created a notorious bastion for organized crime.
Revival for the city began in the mid 1970s. Millions of community development dollars became available from local and national sources and were invested throughout the city. In the 1990s, revitalization continued with efforts of showcasing the city as a center for the arts, opening up the city's natural rivers, building Waterplace Park and riverwalks along the river's banks, and constructing the Fleet Skating Rink.
Downtown Providence is known locally as "Downcity" and has many streetscapes that look as they did eighty years ago. Providence is home to Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence College, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island. Festivals and performing arts events are held throughout the year in both Downcity and other revitalized areas. Some of the groups offering performances are The Tony Award-winning theater group Trinity Repertory Company and the Rhode Island Phylharmonic Orchestra. Parks and open spaces include Waterplace Park and Riverwalk, Roger Williams Park- which contains a zoo- a botanical center, the Museum of Natural History, Roger Williams National Memorial, and Prospect Terrace Park.