Providence #3: RI’s Best Communities 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012


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It's been an annus horribilis for Providence, with bankruptcy looming, but a bright spot for the Capital City arrives today with a new and higher ranking on GoLocalProv's Best Communities 2012 list: up to #3, from #6 in 2011.

It's both a blessing and a curse to be Rhode Island's biggest community when it comes to the rankings. On one hand, Providence's tremendous diversity of 25 neighborhoods' populations and housing makes it more affordable overall that many tonier spots; on the other, the city continues to struggle with crime and education, and wealth that is centered in a few neighborhoods.

Where does Providence rank, compared to its neighbors of all shapes and sizes? It's like dealing with mood swings. At the top of the charts, Providence reminds us that it is a city rich with culture, museums, theaters, historic sites, as well as renowned restaurants and lots (and lots) of bars. This makes the city a lot of fun, particularly for its younger inhabitants. And while Providence ruled the Affordability ranking last year, in 2012 the Median Housing Price rose a dramatic 35%, which drove its ranking down the ladder to a middling #23. Where Providence continues to struggle: Education, Economic Condition, and Safety. But if you have the money to live in the city's historic, nationally recognized neighborhoods, you've got a world of delights at your feet, and some pretty fine living.

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Providence by the numbers

Established: 1636
Population: 178,042
Median household income: $36,925
Median housing price: $115,000

2012 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 3
Affordability ranking: 23
Education ranking: 38
Economic condition ranking: 39
Safety ranking: 39
Arts & Culture ranking: 1
Restaurants & Bars ranking: 1

History in a nutshell:

After his banishment from Massachusetts, Roger Williams founded Providence in 1636. It was incorporated as a city in 1832 and became the only capital of the state in 1900. In its early days, Providence was primarily a manufacturing town producing metals, machinery, textiles, jewelry and silverware. Rich in architectural and artistic significance, one can find a blend of the past and the present in Providence. Located in southeastern New England, at the head of Narragansett Bay, Providence is the center of business, finance, and government for the entire state. Adding to Providence’s influence are the 6 colleges and universities located around the city. In the 1990s, it took on the name, “Renaissance City,” as new buildings, apartments, restaurants, and recreational areas were created. Providence has become a destination for artists and architects alike due to Providence’s encouragement of the fine arts. It is a dynamic city with many facets and is a capital with limitless potential.

Famous residents:

Arts, literature, humanities and entertainment

Tom Adams, an illustrator most famous for his Agatha Christie paperback cover designs
Chester Holmes Aldrich, architect and director of American Academy in Rome
Mathuren Arthur Andrieu, painter
Jacob M. Appel, author and playwright
Joe Beats, hip-hop producer
Ted Berrigan, poet
Blu Cantrell, singer famous for hit songs "Hit 'Em Upstyle (Oops)" and "Breathe"
William Carpenter, early settler of Providence
Marilyn Chambers, pornographic actress and Vice-Presidential candidate.
George M. Cohan, songwriter and entertainer, best known: "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "You're a Grand Old Flag"
Jim Connors, legendary Radio personality (d. Feb 24th 1987)
Bill Conti, composer of music for film and television
Scott Corbett, writer of children's books
Michael Corrente, film director and producer.
Christopher Denise, illustrator of children's books, including many in the Redwall series
C. M. Eddy, Jr., author of mysteries and horror fiction
Nelson Eddy, American singer and film actor
Jeanpaul Ferro, poet, short fiction author, novelist
Elisabeth Filarski, footwear designer, Survivor: The Australian Outback contestant
Sage Francis, hip hop artist and slam poet
Ava Gaudet, singer/dancer/actress known for BWays "Rent", Abc's "Ugly Betty" and more.
Robert Leo (Bobby) Hackett, jazz musician (trumpet, cornet & guitar)
Scott Haltzman, author, The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife's Heart Forever
Scott Hamilton, famous tenor saxophonist
Clay Hart, country musician
Richard Hatch, winner of Survivor: Borneo.
David Hedison, actor of film, television and theater
Ruth Hussey, MGM motion picture actress - nominated for an Oscar for The Philadelphia Story 1940
Claudia Jordan, actress, Miss Rhode Island USA 1997
Jesse Leach, vocalist and musician - original frontman of Killswitch Engage. Also Seemless, local band The Empire Shall Fall and Times of Grace
H. P. Lovecraft, author of fantasy and horror fiction
George Macready, actor of stage, film, and television who was born in Providence in 1899
Cormac McCarthy, author
Shanna Moakler, Miss USA 1995,model,actress and reality television star
Johnson Morton, author
Andy On, Chinese American Hong Kong actor
Jeffrey Osborne, lead vocalist with LTD
Vincent Pagano, actor of film and television, screenwriter
Don Pardo, NBC Announcer since 1944
S. J. Perelman, humorist, author, and screenwriter
Sylvia Poggioli, American radio reporter for National Public Radio.
Josh Schwartz - creator of the teen sensation hit television shows The O.C. and Gossip Girl
A. O. Scott , journalist and New York Times film critic
Benjamin C. Truman, war correspondent and author
Meredith Vieira, former moderator of ABC's The View, co-host of NBC's Today show
Sarah Helen Whitman, poet and the possible inspiration behind the Edgar Allan Poe poems "To Helen" and "Annabel Lee"


Arunah Shepherdson Abell, publisher and philanthropist
Everett M. "Busy" Arnold, comics books entrepreneur and publisher
Alan Shawn Feinstein, finance expert and philanthropist
 Henry J. Steere, industrialist and philanthropist


George Andrews, Adjutant General of the U.S. Army from 1912 to 1914
Israel Angell, colonel in the American Revolution
Richard Arnold, American Civil War general
William Seaman Bainbridge, American military physician, surgeon and gynecologist
Frank Wheaton, American Civil War general


Arunah Shepherdson Abell, creator of Philadelphia Public Ledger and Baltimore Sun newspapers
Philip Allen, Governor of and Senator from Rhode Island
William Henry Allen, naval officer during the War of 1812
Zachariah Allen, scientist and inventor
Jonathan Arnold, member of the Continental Congress from Rhode Island
Samuel G. Arnold, United States Senator from Rhode Island
Jabez Bowen, federalist supporter, Lt. Governor of Rhode Island
John Brown, co-founder of Brown University, U.S. Representative
John Chafee, Rhode Island Governor, Secretary of the Navy, and a United States Senator
Zechariah Chafee, an American lawyer, academic and civil libertarian
Vincent Cianci, longest-serving Mayor in Providence History (1974-1984) & (1991-2002). First Italian-American Mayor of Providence
Stephen Hopkins, nine-time governor of Rhode Island and signer of the Declaration of Independence
Elisha Jenkins,  New York Secretary of State, Mayor of Albany
Pat LaMarche, Green Party vice presidential candidate in 2004 and activist
Dee Dee Myers, the first female White House Press Secretary, served under the Clinton administration
John O. Pastore, Democrat politician, first Italian-American governor (1945-1950) and Italian-American senator (1950-1976) of Rhode Island


Zachariah Allen, scientist and inventor, patented automatic cut-off valve for steam engines


Bill Almon, versatile utility player for Chicago White Sox
Deon Anderson, an American football fullback for the Dallas Cowboys
Rocco Baldelli, outfielder, for the Tampa Bay Rays
Marvin Barnes, an American former professional basketball player.
Will Blackmon, football NFL player for the Green Bay Packers
Pedro Braz, soccer
Ernie DiGregorio, basketball NBA rookie of the year in 1974
Hobe Ferris, second baseman for the Boston Americans (1901-07)
Matt Hyson, pro wrestler, better known as Spike Dudley
Paul Konerko, first baseman for the Chicago White Sox
Chris Ianetta, catcher for the Colorado Rockies
Davey Lopes, retired second baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Peter Manfredo Jr., pro boxer
Bill Osmanski, college Football Hall of Famer
Chuck Palumbo, pro wrestler
Michael Parkhurst, soccer defender for the New England Revolution and USMNT
Vinny Pazienza, pro boxer, 5x World Champ
Jamie Silva, football safety for the Indianapolis Colts

Famous residents source: Wikipedia
Photo: Dan Connolly

For more Best Communities coverage, don't miss GoLocalTV, fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7, here.


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