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The Providence Athenaeum is one of America's oldest member-supported libraries and it has functioned as such since 1753 (though the present structure was built in 1838). According to 19th-century legend, the poet Edgar Allen Poe courted Sarah Whitman in the stacks of this granite Greek Revival building. Some of the collections include documents and books from the original Providence Library, rare editions from American authors like Louisa May Alcott and Herman Melville along with the Robert Burns collection, which has more than 400 items. Today, the Athenaeum hosts events throughout the year with a focus on education for both adults as well as children.
In 1764, three men from Newport established 'The College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations'. For the sake of brevity, it was shortened to Brown University in 1804. It is one of the original eight Ivy League Colleges. Standing strong ever since its inception in 1764, Brown University boasts an excellent educational offering which spans diverse disciplines including engineering, design, ancient studies, archaeology, academics and sciences among others. However, the university bears as much brilliance in its architecture as it does in its academics. Its campus is laden with exceptional examples of late 18th-century architecture residing around the Wriston and Simmons quadrangles, as well as those on the Pembroke College campus, and along Benefit Street. The college remains one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the United States.
Prospect Park was one of writer H.P. Lovecraft's favorite places to wander. When you arrive, it is not hard to see why he enjoyed it so much. The park sits atop Congdon Street in historic College Hill and it offers one of the best views of downtown Providence. Another highlight here is a the statue of Roger Williams, one of the founders of Rhode Island. In fact, his remains lie underneath the statue. Overall, it's a worthwhile stop, especially if you're here when the sun goes down in the West.
Rhode Island State House is a neoclassical white marbled beauty with an imposing dome dominating the skyline of the downtown area. It is considered to be among the fourth largest self-supporting domes in the world. Built between 1895 through 1904, it is the state's seventh state house and the capital's second. Bedecked ornately, the gilded State Library, arresting rotunda and Governor’s State Room are some of its architectural masterpieces.
Located in a lush garden close to Brown University, this ancient relic built in 1890 is fairly small, but in pretty good shape considering that it's more than a century old. Named after Herbert Ladd, the observatory served as a center of astronomical research and timekeeping for years, and although the equipment is considered archaic by today's standards, it's still relevant for Brown University's sky-watchers. To visit, the observatory is only open to the public on Tuesdays, but it's free admission.
The winding sculpted paths of this park named after one of Rhode Island's founding fathers will allow you to see more than 900 different zoo animals. There are giraffe, zebra and cheetah habitats as well as an open-air aviary which allows visitors an up-close look at the birds. Some of the animals with more exotic names include the Babirusa, the Binturong, the Aoudad or the amphibious and endangered Axolotl. The exhibits also feature different geographical regions and environments, such as Australasia and North America or a Wetlands Trail and a Marco Polo Adventure Trek. The zoo is always hosting events that focus on conservation, environmental stewardship and an overall zoological education for schools throughout the greater Providence area.