Rhode Island – USA

The state of Rhode Island has the smallest land area among all other states in US. Rhode Island is famous for its Gilded Age Mansions, most of which were built during the 19th century. Rich families like the Belmonts, Vanderbilts, Oelrichs built these mansions as their summer cottages.

Some of the most famous are: Rosecliff, The Elms, The Breakers, and Vanderbilt Mansion. The state has a lot of Historic Places listed in the National Register. About 713 are on the list, from its five counties: Bristol, Kent, Newport, Providence and Washington. Aside from the mansions, churches and lighthouses make up most of the list.

Blackstone River and Woonasquatucket River are declared as Amercian Heritage Rivers in the year 1998. Providence River is another major river in RI.

Rhode Island Statehouse, is also listed as a Historic Place. It is made up of marble, iron and bricks. It has the world’s 4th largest self supporting dome and is made up of marble, iron and bricks. Another Historic landmark is the Nelson Aldrich House, a house museum in Providence.

Roger Williams Park was named after the founder of Rhode Island, an American statesman with the ideals of modern democracy and religious freedom. The park, located south of Providence, has about 427 acres of landscaped area with 7 lakes. Inside the Park are the following attractions: Roger Williams Zoo, Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, botanical gardens, Dalrymple Boathouse, playgrounds and walkways.

Vernon Court at Bellevue is another Gilded Mansion. Built in 1898, it is now a museum which houses an archive of American Illustrations.

Division Street Bridge is another historic bridge aside from Newport Bridge.  Washington Bridge is a bascule bridge that connects Providence to Eastern Providence. Fox Point Hurricane Barrier Gates is a flood barrier along Providence River.

Flying Horse Carousel at Watch Hill, Westerly is one of a kind. Horses are suspended at center frame instead of a wooden platform underneath. Perhaps among the oldest in America, the ride was supposedly built in 1876.

Rhode Island is indeed an exciting place to visit. It is just like a time capsule that brings you 100 years back into America’s history. Just view the other Rhode Island pages by selecting them in menu on the right, i am sure you will find something interesting in each article.

Washington Bridge

Another testament to the unwavering strength of the state of Rhode Island is the Washington Bridge in Providence. This strong paired bridge was built in honor of the United State’s first President—President George Washington.

Carrying Interstate 195 and crossing over the Seekonk River, Washington Bridge connects Warren and Taunton Avenues intersection of the East of Providence to the old Fox Point Boulevard in Providence. The wide bridge has four lanes, two for each direction. It is beautifully adorned with four huge stone monuments, bearing identical dedications in bronze for the late President Washington. The bridge’s design is comparable to Washington DC’s Arlington Memorial bridge, with the arches and the stone façade.

The original span of the bridge (the southern part) opened to the public on the 25th of September 1930. Over the succeeding decades, Washington Bridge underwent several reconstructions and repairs to better serve the needs of the growing population of the state. By the end of 1959, the bridge was extended to reach the Massachusetts border. In 1968, a twinned bridge was added to the north side of the original span. And in 1996, the twin bridges needed massive repair that required the closing of some lanes. To this day, Washington Bridge still serves well the people of Rhode Island and all travelers that come its way.

Vernon Court

A reminder of the grandeur and beauty of Rhode Island’s past is the Vernon Court of 492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. This Gilded Age mansion against the beautiful backdrop of the Atlantic coast, is a testament of the glorious days the 19th Century Rhode Island. Built by the Carrere and Hastings, its designed was inspired by an 18th century French chateau.

The lovely mansion first served as a summer cottage for Anna Van Nest Gambrill—the young widow of New York’s and Baltimore’s pride, Richard A. Gambrill. Maybe to ease the loneliness of the young widow, Mrs. Gambrill hired Wadley & Smythe florists to work on the landscape of the property.

In 1956, the Gambrill family lost the gilded mansion in an auction. After which, the mansion was used as the administration building of an all girls school—the Vernon Court Junior high school—from 1963 until 1972. In the following two or so decades, Vernon Court served several different masters before it passed on to Laurence and Judy Cutler in 1998. Laurence and Judy founded the National Museum of American Illustration.
Today, Vernon Court serves as the home of several collections of the American Illustration at the museum. The exhibit fittingly centers on the theme: Golden Age of American Illustration.

Rhode Island State House

A symbol of power and good governance, the Rhode Island State House stands proud and magnificent along the downtown area of Providence state capital. This neoclassical building serves as the house of Rhode Island’s governors and the Rhode Island General Assembly, which includes the state secretary, the general treasure, the lieutenant governor and the state governor himself.

Designed by McKim, Mead, and White architectural firm, this current State House is already the second one in Providence and the seventh state house in whole of Rhode Island. Its construction began in 1895 and was completed in 1901. It has then since been standing to serve the honorable leaders of the state. The State House location at Smith Hill provides a panoramic view of the town and makes it an impossible to miss landmark as it is very visible to the whole downtown and other approaching highways.

It stands tall and proud at 233 feet high. Its sturdy built and magnificent location serves as a reminder of the cultural, economic and political standing of Rhode Island at the turn of the century. And up until this day, the Rhode Island State House remains a symbol of the state’s strong economic and social stature.

Roger Williams Memorial Park

Roger Williams Memorial Park is a national epitaph of Rhode Island’s founder after whom the park was named. The park was authorized as a national memorial on the 22nd of October 1965 and subsequently included in the National Register of Historic Places on the 15th of October 1966.

Roger Williams became famous for his banishment from Massachusetts because of his strong belief in religious freedom. As a consequence of his exile, he founded Providence in 1636, which served as a colony refuge for all those who believe in following their conscience in worshipping without the intervention of the state.

Although the Memorial Park is the 20th smallest national park in the country, it is by no means the least beautiful or enjoyable park there is. It is as interesting and as informative as any of the large national parks around the nation. At its visitor center, people will find a comprehensive video and full exhibit about the founder himself, Roger Williams, and how he brought Rhode Island to life up to its various transformations through the years.

Among its featured places are: The visitor center, also called Antram-Gray House, which is a lovely early 18th century structure; Bernon Grove, which is a memorial to Providence’s first resident Gabriel Gernon, who’s also the founder of King’s Chapel known today as St. John’s Cathedral; and the two interpretive 17th Century Gardens, the Colonial Kitchen Garden and the Native American Garden.

Providence River

The Providence River is one of Rhode Island’s pride and beauty. This serenely beautiful tidal river, which flows approximately 13 kilometers, is formed by the conflux of two equally breathtaking rivers—the Moshassuck and Woonasquatucket. The river empties between Conimicut Point and Nayatt Point and into the base of Narragansett Bay. It is considered the approach to the city and to other nearby villages and towns.
Although Providence River’s level and flow is influenced by the rise and fall of the tides, dams were no longer built around it because Fox Point Hurricane Barrier downtown already does the job of protecting the city from devastating tidal floods.

The Providence River also serves as a venue for an all year round succession of cultural events and public art exhibits. One of the famous events is the Water Fire installation. People enjoy both the natural beauty of the river and its function as a perfect venue for huge gatherings, parties and events.

The long stretch of Providence River is transected with several crossings namely, College Street, Crawford Street, Fox Point Hurricane Barrier, Interstate 195, Point Street, Providence River Bridge, and Washington Place. These crossings are as lovely on their own as they are functional in getting people around the city.

Nelson W. Aldrich House

The Nelson W. Aldrich House is another National Historic Landmark in Providence, Rhode Island. It is open to the public as a museum and managed by the Rhode Island Historical Society. It is also known as Dr. S.B. Tobey House. Robert S. Burroughs had this iconic house built on 110 Benevolent Street, Providence in 1821. John Holden Green is the genius behind this strikingly beautiful Federal-style building, which served

as a home to a few rich and important citizen of Rhode Island before Nelson W. Aldrich bought it around the 1890s. After which, it became popular because of the huge economical and political influence that the residing family had to the United States.

Nelson W. Aldrich, who was one of the most powerful figures among the Republicans, served as a U.S. Senator from 1881 until 1911. During his senatorial career, he was elected to become the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. One of his important contributions to the U.S. Senate is co-authoring the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909, which got rid of limiting import duties on fine art. Hence, a lot of Americans were able to bring home expensive and classy artworks from Europe. These imports and investments later became the foundation of a lot of museums in the country.

Adding to the prestige of the house and the household is the marriage of Aldrich’s daughter Abby Greene Aldrich to John D. Rockefeller Jr. Her son Nelson Rockefeller, whom she named after its grandfather, also became one of the most influential politicians in his time as vice-president of the United States.

Fox Point Hurricane Barrier Gates

Another pride of Providence, Rhode Island is its humongous and strong shield against nasty hurricanes—the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier Gates. The Fox Point Hurricane Barrier is a tidal flood barrier, spanning 910 meters or 3,000 feet over the long stretch of Providence River. It was built to protect the downtown area, which has seen quite devastation and severe damages from floods, storm surge, and hurricanes in the past.
The barrier was built between 1960 and 1966, after the Great New England Hurricane killed 250 people and caused around $120 million worth of damage in the city in 1938; and after the great Hurricane Carol caused $41 million damage in a 2.4 meters or 8 feet storm surge in 1954.

The city, the port of Providence in particular, was in full swing of economic progress since the colonial times and it was far too important to be left vulnerable to natural calamities. The waterfront at Downtown Providence was regularly filled with ships, docking there from many different places and bringing in business to the city. The downtown area, which had an elevation of only 2.4 – 3.7 meters, or 8 – 12 feet, was very susceptible to floods. So the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier had to be built to protect it.

Flying Horse Carousel

Flying Horse Carousel at Bay Street’s beach end in Rhode Island is considered the oldest carousel in the United States of America. This iconic merry-go-round was built in the year 1867 as a part of a moving carnival. In 1879, the carnival was forced to leave and it abandoned the carousel in Watch Hill.

The carousel earned its name Flying Horse Carousel from its horses, which are suspended by chains from the ceiling instead of being attached to the floor. Hence, giving the rider the illusion and feeling of flying as they swing out when the carousel is put in motion. The faster the horses go, the more a rider feels like he is flying. Each horse is delicately hand-carved from a whole block of wood. Their eyes are made of glass

while their mane and tail are made of real horsehair, giving them a surreal and fantastic appearance. Legend has it the real horsehair came from the horse that pulled this carousel from town to town when it was still part of the moving carnival. The horse was said to be very loyal to the carousel that when it died, they cured his tail and inserted it into one of the wooden horses as appreciation and recognition of his loyalty.

Division Street Bridge

Division Street Bridge is a lovely stone arch bridge that stands majestically over Seekonk River along Division Street in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. This historic architecture masterpiece was first built in 1877 and has been since open to public traffic, making the lives of motorists easier. As of 2006, this bridge had an approximated 21,900 daily traffic volume.
The bridge stretches to approximately 446 feet and measures around 25 feet in width. So strong and hard-wearing this bridge is that it stood for over a hundred years without needing rehabilitation until the year 1985. Credit for this functional and at the same time artistically designed transportation structure belongs to Horace Foster, who made it beautiful using granite, stone and bricks.

In November 18, 1983, the deserving architecture masterpiece of Providence County was added to the prestigious list of the National Register of Historic Places, making its mark in the history of the United States. Around November in 2007, Division Street Bridge was limited to one-way traffic between Prospect and George Streets and 22-ton weight maximum load by the state transportation department. The limit was further reduced to 18 tons later through Route 95 over the Pawtucket River. The limits were imposed to prolong the life of the historic bridge, which is over a century old. After seven months of restoration and preservation, bridge was reopened to two-way traffic in June of 2008.