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The Rhode Island School of Design is one of the country's leading art schools and it has a museum to match this lauded reputation. Located on colonial Benefit Street, RISD's museum traces the history of art from antiquity to the present day through more than 85,000 works of art from all over the world. There are also collections showing Providence's history as a manufacturing center for silver, but the main galleries are categorized as follows: The Grand Gallery, Early Renaissance & Medieval, Ancient Greek & Roman, Contemporary & Modern and Decorative Arts & Design.
From Main Street in the northern part of College Hill to Alves Way in the neighborhood of Fox Point, this street also called the 'Mile of History', truly is. In fact, Benefit Street had been a catalyst in the history of the city and state. Along the way visitors will see many Victorian and Colonial homes as well as the campus of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. The street is filled with other historical attractions like the Providence Athenaeum, the First Baptist Church in America (literally) and the anachronistic John Brown and Nightingale Houses. If you choose to walk yourself, the Providence Preservation Society provides free pamphlets in order to guide you down the street.
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.
The Providence Performing Arts Center is the second largest theater in New England. It seats 3200 people and it originally opened as a Loew's movie theater in 1928. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places after its 1977 renovation. In this baroquely elegant space, the stage is set for Broadway musicals and concerts. Events as diverse as a Jackson Browne concert or The Sound of Music can be found on this venerable establishment's schedule. Located downtown on Weybosset Street, PPAC (pronounced Pea-Pac, as it is known locally) is close to many downtown hotels as well as other attractions.
For over 25 years the Avon has been offering first-run art house foreign and independent films on Providence's College Hill. The theater has a plush, retro interior and its where artsy Brown or RISD students come to watch directors like Truffaut, Malle and Herzog among more contemporary ones like Ira Sachs and Nadav Sherman. It's located on bustling Thayer Street, and even if you don't catch a show, the neighborhood still merits a visit because it provides a great excuse to shop, eat or just stroll the Wriston Quadrangle on the Brown University campus.
Federal Hill has one of the most varied, historic and notorious reputations as a neighborhood could have in any city. Today it's filled with ritzy bars, restaurants, shops, apartments and entertainment, though it was not always this way. Throughout its history it has been a hotbed of rebellious activity. After the Revolutionary War, local Rhode Island constituents didn't want to ratify the constitution in 1788, but received the name from the fledgling Federalist nation anyway. Over the next two centuries, Irish and Italian immigrants moved to the hill; the latter proved to be more powerful and they indelibly marked it as the city's de facto Italian-American community. As you walk down Atwells Avenue, you'll definitely know where you are when you see La Pigna (the pine cone) under the gateway arch.
This culinary arts museum is run under the auspices of the illustrious private Johnson & Wales University that female founders Gertrude I. Johnson and Mary T. Wales established in 1915. The museum houses a massive collection of cookbooks and other paraphernalia in the kitchen, from old stoves, signs and utensils to a chef's gallery, culinary autographs by U.S. Presidents and over a half million documents. Overall a very interesting museum for anyone who likes to eat!
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.