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If you’ve ever imagined living in a cultural center with a rich history, the East Side of Providence is ideal. Known as the home of world-class universities like RISD, Brown, the Moses Brown School, and the Wheeler School, this unique area attracts residents from all over the world. Founded back in 1636, the East Side of Providence is one of the oldest areas in the country and offers architectural gems from every period in America’s history. It also has a thriving business sector with a manufacturing base, a large financial district, and an emerging tech industry. Between the diversity, the history, and all the fun events and activities, this beautiful community offers something for everyone.

Stunning Architecture Around Every Corner

Most of the East Side of Providence has been designated a historic area. You can find stunning examples of architecture going all the way back to the city’s founding in the 1600s. If you love architecture, making sure to check out these incredible buildings the next time you are walking through town:

1. Providence Athenaeum

[caption id="attachment_4880" align="alignnone" width="801"] Wikipedia[/caption] Located at 251 Benefit Street, the Providence Athenaeum is a must see building for any student of architecture. Founded initially as a library in 1753, the current building was designed by William Strickland in 1838. It is a beautiful example of Greek Revival style.

2. The Old State House

[caption id="attachment_4882" align="alignnone" width="800"]The Old State House Wikipedia[/caption] Located at 150 Benefit Street, this Georgian brick building was home to the colonial and state legislature for nearly 105 years. Built in 1762 and refurbished in 1771, this ornate building features arched windows and a bell tower.

3. Fleur-de-Lis Studio

[caption id="attachment_4883" align="alignnone" width="795"]Fleur-de-Lis Studio Wikipedia[/caption] Located at 7 Thomas Street, this whimsical building is an elaborate example of Arts and Crafts style architecture. Designed in 1885, by painter Sydney R. Burleigh and Edmund R Willson, it is home to the Providence art club.

4. John Hay Library

[caption id="attachment_4884" align="alignnone" width="800"] Wikipedia[/caption] Located at 20 Prospect St, the John Hay Library is the second oldest library on Brown University’s campus. Built in 1910, by the architecture firm of Shepley Rutan & Coolidge, this imposing building is done in the English Renaissance style. Around the East Side, you will find other examples of architectural styles including Colonial, Tudor Revival, Queen Anne, Victorian, Gothic, and Italianate. A great place to see a whole range of architectural styles is on the Brown University campus.

Must-See Points Of Interest On The East Side

On the East Side of Providence, there is also a rich diversity of communities. This walkable area offers arts and culture, shopping and dining, and activities for everyone. No matter your interest, you can find it in on these main areas.

1. Wayland Square

[caption id="attachment_4887" align="alignnone" width="800"] Wikipedia[/caption] Named after Francis Wayland, a former president of Brown University, it is home to the Red Bridge that crosses the Seekonk River. In this district you will find a variety of great restaurants like Red Stripe, Salted Slate, and Haruki East. It’s also home to Wayland Square Diner and L’Artisan Cafe and Bakery which are ideal spots for brunch. You’ll also find great boutique shopping and a West Elm furniture store.

2. Wickenden Street

[caption id="attachment_4888" align="alignnone" width="801"] Flickr: Josh McGinn[/caption] Named after William Wickenden, a British minister who owned a farm where Wickenden Street now exists. We love Wickenden Street, it’s where our office is located. Along Wickenden Street you’ll find days worth of fun activities and shopping. Among the shops, you’ll find antique stores, thrift stores, hardware stores, and craft shops. There’s also great places to eat such as the Benefit Street Juice Bar, Duck and Bunny Cafe, Wickenden Pub, and the Coffee Exchange.

3. Hope Street

Hope Street is a major commercial strip with some really cool specialty shops. You definitely need to check out Frog and Toad, a gift shop featuring mostly work done by local artists. You can find everything from handmade cards to comical socks, and attire from local fashion designers. If you’re a fan of Thai food, there are tons of great restaurants and bakeries. You can also find a fantastic farmer’s market on Saturday mornings during the summer.

4. Thayer Street

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfqR4noh2rY/?taken-by=pvdfilmfestival Located in the College Hill district, Thayer Street is extremely popular with University students. It’s a bohemian area with lots of cafes and coffee shops, eclectic boutiques, and popular stores like Urban Outfitters. It’s also home to the university bookstore.

Unique Events In The East Side of Providence

Within these districts, you can find a whole variety of fun activities. There is a range of art galleries, historical museums, and heritage centers you can visit all year round. We definitely recommend the RISD Museum, the John Brown House Museum, and RIMOSA. If you’re looking to escape the city and commune with nature, you can find tons of green space like Blackstone Park, India Point Park, and Prospect Terrace. There are also a variety of must-attend special events including:

1. Waterfire

[caption id="attachment_4891" align="alignnone" width="800"] Flickr: Adnan Islam[/caption] A fire sculpture on the three rivers running from May to November. If you’d like to get closer you can even take a boat ride on the river during the show.

2. PVDFest

https://twitter.com/madeleine_list/status/1005611976469417985 Held annually in June, it is an outdoor festival featuring local artists, musicians, and performers.

3. Providence Summer Flea Markets

https://twitter.com/ProvidenceFlea/status/1005880095918186497 Running all summer, the flea market features local vendors, artisans and makers, and food trucks.

4. Children’s Film Festival

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfmCcm3hVHI/?taken-by=pvdfilmfestival Running every February, this festival showcases the best in family-friendly films.

5. Festival of Historic Houses

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bju9urvBgx6/?taken-by=pvdpreservation A must for architecture fans, this annual June festival gives attendees a rare opportunity to see inside some of the beautiful historic homes. The East Side of Providence is truly a vibrant community and the cultural hub of the city. It’s an incredible place to visit, but an even better place to live. With a long rich history, beautiful architecture, and colorful districts, there’s always something to explore in these communities.  

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Jim DeRentis
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