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NEW: Providence Named New England’s ‘Coolest City’ by Britain’s Telegraph

Monday, May 16, 2011


Providence got some international attention this weekend, when Britain's Telegraph named the capital city "The Coolest City in New England."

Bloody well right.

In a lovenote to the quirks and qualities of the city built, as journalist Pamela Petro cites, on seven hills, Providence sweeps away the competition in New England with tax incentives for artists and a legacy of being founded by one of American history's great iconoclasts, Roger Williams.

"Williams said, 'When you do what you do best, you are not only helping yourself but the world,'" wrote Petro. "What Providence does best today is create: art, food, architecture and faculties for critical thought, to name a few of its strengths."

Hot, hip universities

Petro goes on to call Brown University "the hippest Ivy League school" (sorry, Columbia), and credits RISD (she even includes a pronounciation guide for British readers) for more than being just "the nation's number-one art school."

"RISD (pronounced 'Rizdee')," Petro writes, "is responsible not only for the city’s vibrant, experimental arts scene — the downtown and jewellery districts are packed with galleries and studios — but for making Providence the foodie capital of New England."

Historic houses in former red-light districts

More cool quotients, according to Petro: the remarkable stock of historic houses, especially on the East Side and College Hill in particular.

"The place to see them is Benefit Street," she writes, "once a red-light district so down on its luck that no one could afford to bulldoze the dilapidated old buildings – in hindsight, a stroke of luck. Today it’s a showcase of 200 years of American architecture, from clapboard colonials to gabled and turreted Victorians."


And of course, what better evidence of the utter coolness of Providence than WaterFire?

"There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world," Petro says. "The medieval smell of wood smoke in a contemporary urban setting, and the elemental play of water and fire stir an uncanny pairing of opposites guaranteed to raise hairs on the back of your neck."

Petro gives appropriate to love to Federal Hill, not neglecting to mention its Mobbed-up past, and also mentions that right in the center of town, you can smell the ocean salt off Narragansett Bay.

Not a bad summary of a very cool city.

To read Pamela Petro's entire article, go here.

Photo: Providence and Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau

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