Pawtucket, Rhode Island


Pawtucket, Rhode Island
City of Pawtucket
Official seal of Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Official logo of Pawtucket, Rhode Island
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Location within Providence County and the state of Rhode Island
Location within Providence County and the state of Rhode Island
Pawtucket is located in Rhode Island
Location in Rhode Island
Pawtucket is located in the United States
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 41°52′33″N 71°22′37″W / 41.87583°N 71.37694°W / 41.87583; -71.37694
Country United States
State Rhode Island
Founded (town)1671
Incorporated (city)1886
 • TypeMayor-council
 • MayorDonald R. Grebien (D)
 • City CouncilMichael A. Araujo (D)
Melissa DaRosa (D)
Elena Vasquez (D)
David P. Moran (D)
Mark J. Wildenhain (D)
Terrence E. Mercer (D)
Alexis Schuette (D)
Clovis Gregor (D)
Timothy P. Rudd, Jr. (D)
 • Total8.96 sq mi (23.22 km2)
 • Land8.67 sq mi (22.45 km2)
 • Water0.30 sq mi (0.77 km2)
36 ft (11 m)
 • Total71,148
 • Estimate 
 • Density8,320.87/sq mi (3,212.64/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s)401
FIPS code44-54640[3]
GNIS feature ID1218926[4]

Pawtucket /pəˈtʌkɪt/ (About this soundlisten) is a city in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 75,604 at the 2020 census, making the city the fourth-largest in the state. Pawtucket borders Providence and East Providence to the south, Central Falls and Lincoln to the north, and North Providence to the west; to its east-northeast, the city borders the Massachusetts municipalities of Seekonk and Attleboro.

Pawtucket was an early and important center of textile manufacturing; the city is home to Slater Mill, a historic textile mill recognized as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the United States.[5][6]


The name "Pawtucket" comes from the Algonquian word for "river fall."[7]


The Pawtucket region was said to have been one of the most populous places in New England prior to the arrival of European settlers.[8] Native Americans would gather here to catch the salmon and smaller fish that gathered at the falls.[8] The first European settler here was Joseph Jenks, who came to the region from Lynn, Massachusetts.[8] He purchased about 60 acres near Pawtucket Falls in 1671,[8] then established a sawmill and forge.[8] These, along with the entire town, were later destroyed during King Philip's War.[8]

Other settlers followed Jenks, and by 1775 the area was home to manufacturers of muskets, linseed oil, potash, and ships.[8] Also around this time Oziel Wilkinson and his family set up an iron forge that made anchors, nails, screws, farm implements, and even cannons.[8]

Panoramic map of Pawtucket and Central Falls (1877)

Pawtucket was an early and important center of cotton textiles during the American Industrial Revolution. Slater Mill, built in 1793 by Samuel Slater on the Blackstone River falls in downtown Pawtucket, was the first fully mechanized cotton-spinning mill in America.[9] Slater Mill is known for developing a commercially successful production process not reliant on earlier horse-drawn processes developed in America. Slater constructed and operated machines for producing yarn. Other manufacturers continued, transforming Pawtucket into a center for textiles, iron working, and other products.

By the 1920s, Pawtucket was a prosperous mill town. The city had over a half-dozen movie theaters, two dozen hotels, and an impressive collection of fine commercial and residential architecture.[10] Perhaps the most impressive public building in Pawtucket was the Leroy Theatre, an ornate movie palace that was called "Pawtucket's Million Dollar Theater".[10] Many wealthy mill owners such as Darius Goff built their mansions in the area.[11]

The textile business in New England declined during the Great Depression with many manufacturers closing or moving their facilities South where operations and labor were cheaper. Later in the 20th Century, Pawtucket began to lose some of its architectural heritage to the wrecking ball, including the Leroy Theatre.[10]

Unlike numerous older mill towns in the region, Pawtucket retained much of its industrial base. Today, goods produced in the city include lace, non-woven and elastic woven materials, jewelry, silverware, metals, and textiles. Hasbro, one of the world's largest manufacturers of toys and games, is headquartered in Pawtucket.

A tale of two states

Originally, the land west of the Blackstone River was part of nearby North Providence.[8] East of the Blackstone River was originally settled as part of the Massachusetts town of Rehoboth. The first Pawtucket to be incorporated was in 1828 when Rehoboth gave up their land and Pawtucket became a new town in Massachusetts.[8] In 1862 the eastern portion was absorbed into Providence County, Rhode Island.[8] On March 1, 1862, after a nearly 225-year border dispute between Rhode Island and Plymouth/Massachusetts, the area of Pawtucket and East Providence was shifted into Rhode Island, and the new border remains to this day. In 1874, the land west of the river was taken from North Providence and added to the town of Pawtucket, but acted as two different towns. Finally in 1886, West and East Pawtucket were merged and the city was incorporated.[8][12]


Pawtucket is located at 41°52′32″N 71°22′34″W / 41.87556°N 71.37611°W / 41.87556; -71.37611Coordinates: 41°52′32″N 71°22′34″W / 41.87556°N 71.37611°W / 41.87556; -71.37611.[13]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.0 square miles (23 km2), of which, 8.7 square miles (23 km2) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) of it (2.89%) is water. Pawtucket lies within three drainage basins. These include the Blackstone River (including the Seekonk River), the Moshassuck River and the Ten Mile River.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census
The Portuguese Social Club of Pawtucket marches in the 2021 Bristol Fourth of July Parade

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 71,141 people, 32,055 households, and 18,508 families residing in the city. Pawtucket was the fourth most populous of Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns. The population density was 8,351.2 people per square mile (3,223.0/km2). There were 32,055 housing units at an average density of 3,642.2 per square mile (1,405.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 50.4% Non-Hispanic white, 18.9% Non-Hispanic African American, 0.60% Native American, 1.6% Non-Hispanic Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, mixed race 3.9%, 4.7% other. About 25% of residents are Latino.[citation needed]

There were 32,055 households, out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.7% were married couples living together, 16.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% were non-families. 32.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.9% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 31.3% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 14.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,124, and the median income for a family was $40,578. Males had a median income of $31,129 versus $23,391 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,008. About 14.9% of families and 16.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 15.2% of those age 65 or over.

According to the 2000 census, 20.6% of Pawtucket residents are French or French-Canadian.[14] Like nearby cities Providence, Fall River, and New Bedford., Pawtucket hosts a significant population from across the former Portuguese Empire (11.6%),[14] including a significant Cape Verdean population.

Pawtucket is also one of the few areas of the United States with a significant Liberian population, mostly refugees from Charles Taylor's regime; Rhode Island has the highest per capita Liberian population in the country.[15] Pawtucket has a high concentration of West Africans.

Arts and culture

Pawtucket Armory Center for the Arts (former Pawtucket Armory), with The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre in annex

The City of Pawtucket has been supportive of the arts community since 1975. On September 2, 1977, The Beach Boys performed a concert at Narragansett Park attended by 40,000 people, the largest concert audience in Rhode Island history. In 2017, music historians Al Gomes and Connie Watrous of Big Noise were successful in getting the street where the concert stage stood (the corner of 455 Narragansett Park Drive) officially renamed as "Beach Boys Way".[16][17][18]

In January, 1999, Herb Weiss, of the Planning Department, was hired to oversee the City's newly created Arts District. Through the support of then Mayor James E. Doyle and Planning Department Michael Cassidy, Weiss brought significant recognition for Pawtucket-Arts oriented development strategy.[19] Mayor Doyle and Weiss hired researcher Ann Galligan, of Northeastern University, to create an arts and cultural plan. Over the years Pawtucket has become known[by whom?] as a center for arts and culture.[20]

Several experimental/indie rock bands have recorded albums at Machines with Magnets, a recording studio and art gallery in Downtown Pawtucket. Bands that have performed or recorded here include Battles, Lightning Bolt, Brown Bird, and Fang Island.

One hub for arts and culture in the city is Lorraine Mills, a repurposed mill building on the eastern side of the city, which houses institutions including Mixed Magic Theatre, Wage House (comedy club), Pawtucket Arts Collaborative, and Crooked Current Brewery.[21][22]

Each September, the city, in conjunction with the Pawtucket Arts Festival Board of Directors, members chosen from the community, produce an annual citywide Arts Festival.

From 1970 to 2020, the Pawtucket Red Sox played at McCoy Stadium

Pawtucket is home to McCoy Stadium, where the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, played from 1970 to 2020. The team was owned by Ben Mondor until his death and was sold by his estate. The longest professional baseball game in history, 33 innings, was played at McCoy Stadium in 1981.[23] Pawtucket has a history of professional baseball dating back to 1892, including the Pawtucket Indians. The PawSox franchise was relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts, to become the Worcester Red Sox beginning with the 2021 season.[24]

In 1934, the Narragansett Park opened for Thoroughbred horse racing. Until its closure in 1978, the track hosted several important races that drew some of the top horses from around the United States including Hall of Fame members; Seabiscuit, War Admiral and Gun Bow.

Parks and recreation

  • Slater Memorial Park has full recreational facilities including tennis courts and picnic areas.
  • Daggett Farm
  • Water Color Gallery open to the public for viewing
  • Daggett House
  • Marconi Garden


Pawtucket public schools
Samuel Slater Middle School

Public schools

Public education in Pawtucket is directed by the Pawtucket School Department and contains these schools:[25]

Senior high schools

Middle schools

Elementary schools

  • Elizabeth Baldwin
  • M. Virginia Cunningham
  • Flora S. Curtis
  • Curvin McCabe
  • Fallon Memorial
  • Nathanael Greene
  • Agnes E. Little
  • Potter Burns
  • Francis J. Varieur
  • Henry J. Winters

Catholic schools

The Quality Hill section of Pawtucket is home to St. Raphael Academy. It is a private college preparatory school founded on the basis of St. John the Baptist de la Salle. "Saints" is a small school consisting of roughly 500 students with a student to teacher ratio of about 15:2. The "Saints and Lady Saints" are very successful in sports including baseball, football, basketball, and softball. St. Raphael Academy is a rival of William E. Tolman. The two schools took part in a Thanksgiving Day football game that was played in McCoy Stadium for over 70 years, though game is no longer played. William E. Tolman now competes annually against its fellow Pawtucket public high school Charles E. Shea, rather than against St. Raphael Academy, a private Catholic high school.[citation needed]

Pawtucket was home to Bishop Keough High School, a small all-girls catholic high school in the Fairlawn neighborhood.

The city also has three Catholic elementary schools: St. Cecilia School, St. Teresa School and Woodlawn Catholic Regional School.



Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and the MBTA's Providence/Stoughton Line run through Pawtucket, though there is no stop for either in the city. Train service at the Pawtucket/Central Falls train station terminated in 1959. Recently[when?] there have been discussions to have the "T" stop in Pawtucket at the old train station (which would be substantially refurbished) or at a platform elsewhere on the line. Federal funding has been provided for preliminary planning of a MBTA station in the city, with a request for proposals expected in early 2011.[26] Commuters can board MBTA trains at the South Attleboro stop, off Newport Avenue just over the state line. The MBTA operates a layover facility in Pawtucket for trains on the Providence/Stoughton Line where the trains are kept overnight. The closest Amtrak station to Pawtucket is Providence Station.

Public bus transportation is available in the city. RIPTA operates a hub in downtown Pawtucket with routes to various parts of the city and to parts of nearby towns. Riders can also access RIPTA buses to Providence at the downtown hub on the Smithfield Avenue (#53) and Beverage Hill (#78) routes; as well as on either the R-Line (Broad-North Main) Rapid Service route or #1 (Hope/Eddy) Key Corridor route. The # 1 (Hope/Eddy) Key Corridor route provides service from the Downtown Pawtucket hub north to the MBTA Station at South Attleboro, Mass. and south to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick. At Kennedy Plaza, Providence's hub, riders can access routes to most parts of the state.

Highways and roads

Interstate 95 and U.S. 1 also traverse the western part of Pawtucket. Some of the slowest posted speeds on I-95 are in the city due to the "S-curves" near downtown. To preserve certain buildings in the city, planners snaked I-95, creating sharp bends in the highway.

Downtown Circulator

The former Downtown Circulator

Pawtucket's Downtown Circulator was a one-way loop through downtown; it is similar to British concepts of ring roads. A similar concept was also tried in Providence.

The circulator used East Avenue, High Street, Summer Street, Goff Avenue, Dexter Street and Park Place West. Each half of the Circulator carried one direction of U.S. 1; sections also carried westbound RI 15 and northbound RI 114. It was signed with a big "C" on overhead signs.

There are no longer signs for the circulator, though the road configuration remains. Providence's Downtown Ring Roads have suffered a similar fate.


Hasbro, a Fortune 1000 toy and game making company, is headquartered in Pawtucket.[27]

Many healthcare, retail and insurance companies are headquartered in Pawtucket.[28]

Fox Point Pickles, a pickling company, is headquartered in Pawtucket.

Notable people

In popular culture

  • Pawtucket has been frequently referenced in the cartoon series Family Guy, specifically the Pawtucket Pat Brewery, Peter Griffin's place of work from Season 4 onwards, the character "Pawtucket Pat" and the beer "Pawtucket Patriot", though no brewery existed in the real Pawtucket when the show first made references to them. The toy company Peter Griffin worked for early in the series was called the Happy-Go-Lucky Toy Co, the name a loose parody based on the name of the Hasbro toy company based in Pawtucket. In general, there is a strong argument Pawtucket is the basis for the town of Quahog on the show.
  • In the 1999 film Outside Providence, the movie's main character, Tim Dunphy, grew up in Pawtucket. Many different Pawtucket locations are seen in the movie, including the police station.
  • American Buffalo, a 1996 film, was filmed in Pawtucket.
  • In December 1993, a character on the NBC sitcom Nurses called Pawtucket a pit. Then-mayor Bob Metivier appeared on the show months later in a cameo looking for an apology.

Sister town

Belper was where Samuel Slater had been apprenticed to Jedediah Strutt, learning the secrets of Richard Arkwright's Water Frame. He is sometimes known in that area as "Slater the traitor".[29] Belper holds an annual town festival in honor of Pawtucket and Belper being sister towns.

See also


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  2. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ "Exploring Slater Mill: Visiting the birthplace of industrial revolution". June 26, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  6. ^ "Pawtucket's Slater Mill acquired by National Park Service". Associated Press. January 31, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  7. ^ "Profile for Pawtucket, Rhode Island, RI". ePodunk. Archived from the original on October 6, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Greene, Welcome Arnold (1886). The Providence Plantations for 250 Years. Providence, RI: J.A. & R.A. Reid. pp. 375–379.
  9. ^ "Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor – History & Culture". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c "The Leroy Theatre, RIP". Providence, RI: The Providence Journal-Bulletin. September 14, 1997. p. D6.
  11. ^ Grieve, Robert (1897). Illustrated History of Pawtucket, Central Falls and Vicinity. Providence: Henry R. Caufield. pp. 324–326.
  12. ^ "Pawtucket, Rhode Island". Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  13. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Pawtucket, RI 2000 Census Archived May 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ ZINER, KAREN LEE. "R.I., with its sizable Liberian population, prepares for an Ebola case / Poll". Providence Journal. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  16. ^ "The Beach Boys RI Concert Commemoration". YouTube. August 9, 2017. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021.
  17. ^ Smith, Andy (August 8, 2017). "In '77 Beach Boys Headlined R.I.'s Largest Concert". The Providence Journal.
  18. ^ Markgraf, Diandra (September 5, 2017). "Pawtucket celebrates Beach Boys Way". The Valley Breeze.
  19. ^ Staff, P. B. N. (June 2, 2007). "Pawtucket's success is not an accident". Providence Business News. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  20. ^ Zezima, Katie (August 10, 2004). "Artistic Enclave Gets Its Footing In Rhode Island (Published 2004)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  21. ^ "Lorraine Mills: A hub for creative activities - by Donald Grebien". Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  22. ^ Salit, Richard. "Neighborhood of the week Fairlawn." Providence Journal (RI), sec. RI News, 11 Dec. 2016, p. 1. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current, Accessed 26 Oct. 2019.
  23. ^ "The Longest Game in Baseball History". Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  24. ^ Boston Globe. Aug 17, 2018, The Sox Moving Top Farm Team From Pawtucket to Worcester
  25. ^ "Pawtucket School Department District Homepage". Retrieved August 19, 2008.
  26. ^ State of Rhode Island Department of Transportation: Commuter Rail: Phase I at the Wayback Machine (archived October 20, 2011) [1]
  27. ^ "Hasbro on the Forbes Just Companies List". Forbes. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  28. ^ "Large Employers in Pawtucket List". Labor Market Information. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  29. ^ "Belper Town Guide 2009–2011" (PDF). Belper Town Council. 2009. p. 12. Retrieved March 11, 2011.

External links

  • Pawtucket travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Official website Edit this at Wikidata
  • Pawtucket, Rhode Island at Curlie