It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.
The first port in the capital city of Providence was India Point. It was established in 1680, 44 years after Roger Williams first set foot in Providence. It would be another 84 years before Brown University was founded, and 110 years before Rhode Island was admitted to the union. India Point flourished in maritime trade for 250 years after its inception.
The port and surrounding area were named after the tea and spice business John Brown had with the East Indies. John Brown was a merchant and also a slave trader. He established his tea and spice business with the East Indies here, which is why the area is named India Point. During the 1800s, with large manufacturing plants in Providence like Brown & Sharpe (tool makers) and Gorham silverware, much of the goods were shipped through the wharves at India Point. By the late 1800s, nearly one million tons of coal was brought in on ships and stored along the harbor. It remained a major trade center until the 1930s.
From the 1820s, steamboats traveled from New York to Providence, and passenger steamship lines became popular. Travelers could take a steamship from India Point to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and even Miami. Service continued until 1941, when steamships were needed for the war.