Pawtucket #37: RI’s Best Communities 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012


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As bright spots like a popular winter Farmer's Market at Hope Artiste Mill and vibrant arts at the downtown's Armory keep hope alive in this scrappy northern neighbor to Rhode Island's capital city, Pawtucket moves one spot up in this year's Best Communities rankings, to #37. But this birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution still has much to overcome, with struggling schools, depressed economic conditions, and high crime levels per capita.

Overall in the 2012 rankings, the state's fourth-largest city struggles to overcome the problems created throughout Rhode Island's industrial corridors in the second half of the 20th century, combined with a crippling national recession. Dropping one notch in the Education rankings to #37, and in Safety to #36, Pawtucket did move up three spots in Economic Condition to claim the #34 spot. Where Pawtucket posts its best performances (literally), is on the Arts & Culture ranking, with a #23 ranking propelled by growing arts-oriented sites and theaters such as the critically acclaimed Gamm Theatre. And when it comes to restaurants, Pawtucket does not disappoint, ranking #5 in the state for places to eat and drink.

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Pawtucket by the numbers

Established: 1671
Population: 71,148
Median household income: $40,198
Median housing price: $145,500

2012 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 37
Affordability ranking: 22
Education ranking: 37
Economic condition ranking: 34
Safety ranking: 36
Arts & Culture ranking: 23
Restaurants & Bars ranking: 5

History in a nutshell:

Few Rhode Island cities have had their fortunes so entwined with the Blackstone River. Founded at prominent falls of the river, near the upper waters of Narragansett Bay, Pawtucket grew from industry. In 1793,
Samuel Slater constructed and operated machines for spinning cotton yarn at Slater Mill (which remains one of the state's prominent historic sites). Beyond this, a variety of iron working shops and machines grew in conjunction with the textile industry making Pawtucket a vital manufacturing hub. The contraction of the textile industry left the city directionless for years (although Hasbro has remained a dynamic presence), but ardent preservationists and artists continue to build a new era.

Famous residents:

Adam J. Barlow, basketball player
Willard L. Beaulac, diplomat
Don Bousquet, cartoonist
Jon B., singer and songwriter
Ernie Calverley, basketball player
Wendy Carlos, composer and electronic musician
Aram Chobanian, cardiologist
Ruth Clifford, silent film star
Mike Cole, actor
Jim Connors, radio personality
Thomas Gardiner Corcoran, presidential advisor
Michael Corrente, independent film director
Alice Drummond, actress
Jack Duffy, actor
Joseph L. Fisher, congressman
Joel Garreau, journalist, editor and author
David Hartman, television personality
Raymond Hood, architect
Galway Kinnell, poet
Armand Lamontagne, sculptor
John LaRose, baseball player
Irving R. Levine, journalist and foreign correspondent
Kevin Lima, film director
Peter Manfredo, boxer
Rosario Mazzeo, clarinetist
Louis Monast, congressman
Abraham Nathanson, developer of the game Bananagrams
Morris Nathanson, architect
Chet Nichols, Jr., baseball player
Sam Patch, daredevil
Gerry Philbin, football player
Red Pollard, Jockey
David Rawlings, musician
Charles Reilly, novelist
Al Rockoff, photojournalist
Ken Ryan, baseball player
Walter Schroder, author and lecturer
Samuel Slater, industrialist
Hank Soar, football player, baseball umpire
Samuel Starkweather, politician
Minton Warren, scholar
Craig Watjen, assistant treasurer at Microsoft
Tim White, professional wrestling referee
Gary Whitehead, poet and painter
Jeff Xavier, basketball player
Les Pawson, 3-time Boston Marathon winner

Famous residents source: Wikipedia

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