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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.
Federal Hill has one of the most varied and historic 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. Situated in the heart of the city, this neighborhood is known for its rich Italian-American population. The Italian-Americans here have contributed immensely over the centuries to the development and betterment of the city. The many Italian restaurants here offer delectable food to patrons throughout the year. 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.
In 1764, three men from Newport established 'The College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,' which, for the sake of brevity, was shortened to Brown University in 1804. One of the original eight Ivy League Colleges, standing strong ever since its inception, 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 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.
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.
Stretching from Main Street in the northern part of College Hill to Alves Way in the neighborhood of Fox Point, this street is also called the 'Mile of History'. Benefit Street has 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 dotted with other historical attractions like the Providence Athenaeum, the First Baptist Church in America 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.
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!