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The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island ( /ˌroʊd ˈaɪlɨnd/ (helpinfo) or /rɵˈdaɪlɨnd/), is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area. Rhode Island borders Connecticut to the west, Massachusetts to the north and east, and shares a water boundary with New York's Fishers Island to the southwest.
Despite the name, most of Rhode Island is on the mainland United States. The name Rhode Island and Providence Plantations derives from the merger of two colonies, Providence Plantations and Rhode Island. Providence Plantations was the name of the colony founded by Roger Williams in the area now known as the City of Providence. Rhode Island, the other colonial settlement, was founded in the area of present-day Newport, on Aquidneck Island, the largest of several islands in Narragansett Bay.
Rhode Island was the first of the thirteen original colonies to declare independence from British rule and the last to ratify the United States Constitution.
Rhode Island's official nickname is "The Ocean State," a reference to the state's geography, since Rhode Island has several large bays and inlets that amount to about 30% of its total area. Its land area is 1,045 square miles (2706 km2), but its total area is significantly larger (in the United States, all seawater and ocean floors that are more than three nautical miles from land belong to the Federal Government.)
In 1524, Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European to visit any part of what is now Rhode Island. He came to what is now Block Island and named it "Luisa" after Louise of Savoy, Queen mother of France. When the founders of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations surveyed the land, they thought that Aquidneck Island was the place. A mistake occurred in 1690, when Luisa was charted by the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block, after whom Luisa was renamed by the Dutch West India Company. However, their motives in doing so are unknown. The official explanation by the State of Rhode Island is that Mr. Adriaen Block named the area "Roodt Eylandt", meaning "red island", in reference to the red clay that lines the shore, and that this name was later anglicized when the region came under British rule.
Roger Williams, a theologian who was one of the first to advocate freedom of religion, separation of church and state, abolition of slavery, and equal treatment to Native Americans, was forced out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Seeking religious and political tolerance, he and others founded "Providence Plantations" as a free proprietary colony. "Providence" referred to the divine providence and "plantations" referred to a British term for a colony (people leave one place and are "planted" in another). Thus, this name bore no relation to the later Southern and Caribbean Islands slave plantations. Later on, Providence Plantations and Rhode Island were merged to form the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
"Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" is the longest official name of any state in the Union. On June 25, 2009, the General Assembly voted to allow the people to decide whether to keep the name or drop "Providence Plantations" due to the misperception that the name relates to slavery. A referendum election is to be held on this subject in the near future.
Rhode Island covers an area of approximately 1,545 square miles (4,002 km²) and is bordered on the north and east by Massachusetts, on the west by Connecticut, and on the south by Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. It shares a narrow maritime border with New York State between Block Island and Long Island. The mean elevation of the state is 200 feet (60 m).
Nicknamed the Ocean State, Rhode Island has a number of oceanfront beaches. It is mostly flat with no real mountains, and the state's highest natural point is Jerimoth Hill, 812 feet (247 m) above sea level.
Located within the New England province of the Appalachian Region, Rhode Island has two distinct natural regions. Eastern Rhode Island contains the lowlands of the Narragansett Bay, while Western Rhode Island forms part of the New England Upland. Narragansett Bay is a major feature of the state's topography. Block Island lies approximately 12 miles (19 km) off the southern coast of the mainland. Within the Bay, there are over 30 islands. The largest is Aquidneck Island, shared by the municipalities of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth. The second-largest island is Conanicut; the third-largest is Prudence.
Washington County is known within Rhode Island as South County.
A rare type of rock called Cumberlandite, found only in Rhode Island (specifically in the town of Cumberland), is the state rock. There were initially two known deposits of the mineral, but since it is an ore of iron, one of the deposits was extensively mined for its ferrous content.
Rhode Island is an example of a cold winter humid continental climate with hot, rainy summers and chilly winters. The highest temperature recorded in Rhode Island was 104 °F (40 °C), recorded on August 2, 1975 in Providence. The lowest recorded temperature in Rhode Island was -25 °F (-32 °C), on February 5, 1996 in Greene. Monthly average temperatures range from a high of 83 °F (28 °C) to a low of 20 °F (-7 °C).
In 1636, Roger Williams, after being banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his religious views, settled at the tip of Narragansett Bay, on land granted to him by the Narragansett tribe. He called the site Providence and declared it a place of religious freedom. Detractors of the idea of liberty of conscience sometimes referred to it as "Rogue's Island".
In 1638, after conferring with Williams, Anne Hutchinson, William Coddington, John Clarke, Philip Sherman, and other religious dissidents settled on Aquidneck Island (then known as Rhode Island), which was purchased from the local natives, who called it Pocasset. The settlement of Portsmouth was governed by the Portsmouth Compact. The southern part of the island became the separate settlement of Newport after disagreements among the founders.
Samuel Gorton purchased the Native American lands at Shawomet in 1642, precipitating a military dispute with the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1644, Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport united for their common independence as the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, governed by an elected council and "president". Gorton received a separate charter for his settlement in 1648, which he named Warwick after his patron. These allied colonies were united in the charter of 1663, used as the state constitution until 1842.
Although Rhode Island remained at peace with the Native Americans, the relationship between the other New England colonies and the Native Americans was more strained, and sometimes led to bloodshed, despite attempts by the Rhode Island leadership to broker peace. During King Philip's War (1675–1676), both sides regularly violated Rhode Island's neutrality. The war's largest battle occurred in Rhode Island, when a force of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Plymouth militia under General Josiah Winslow invaded and destroyed the fortified Narragansett Indian village in the Great Swamp in southern Rhode Island, on December 19, 1675. The Narragansett also invaded, and burnt down several of the cities of Rhode Island, including Providence, although they allowed the population to leave first. Also in one of the final actions of the war, troops from Connecticut hunted down and killed "King Philip", as they called the Narragansett war-leader Metacom, on Rhode Island's territory.
The colony was amalgamated into the Dominion of New England in 1686, as James II of England attempted to enforce royal authority over the autonomous colonies in British North America. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the colony regained its independence under the Royal Charter. The bedrock of the economy continued to be agriculture, especially dairy farming, and fishing. Lumber and shipbuilding also became major industries. Slaves were introduced at this time, although there is no record of any law relegalising slave-holding. Ironically, the colony later prospered under the slave trade, by distilling rum to sell in Africa as part of a profitable triangular trade in slaves and sugar with the Caribbean.
Rhode Island was the first of the thirteen colonies to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown, on May 4, 1776. It was also the last colony of the thirteen colonies to ratify the United States Constitution on May 29, 1790 once assurances were made that a Bill of Rights would become part of the Constitution. As the home of Brown University, Rhode Island is one of only eight states hosting a colonial college chartered on its territory prior to the American Revolution.
Rhode Island's tradition of independence and dissent gave it a prominent role in the American Revolution. In 1772, the first bloodshed of the American Revolution took place in Rhode Island when a band of Providence residents attacked a grounded British ship for enforcing unpopular British trade regulations. This incident would come to be known as the Gaspee Affair. Rhode Island was the first of the original thirteen colonies to declare its independence from Great Britain (May 4, 1776), and the last to ratify the Constitution, doing the latter only after being threatened with having its exports taxed as a foreign nation. During the Revolution, the British occupied Newport. A combined Franco-American force fought to drive them off of Aquidneck Island. Portsmouth was the site of the first African American military unit, the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, to fight for the U.S. in the Battle of Rhode Island August 29, 1778. The arrival of a far superior French fleet forced the British to scuttle their own ships, rather than surrender them to the French. The celebrated march of 1781 to Yorktown, Virginia that ended with the defeat of the British at the Siege of Yorktown and the Battle of the Chesapeake began in Newport, Rhode Island under the joint command of General George Washington who led American soldiers and the Comte de Rochambeau who led French soldiers sent by King Louis XVI. These allied forces spent one year in Providence, Rhode Island, including at Brown University's University Hall, preparing for an opportune moment to begin their decisive march. Several patriots residing in Rhode Island were involved in the American Revolution, including Royal Governor Samuel Ward, Royal Governor and first Brown University Chancellor Stephen Hopkins, the Reverend James Manning, General James Mitchell Varnum, John Brown, Dr. Solomon Drowne, Yale College president Ezra Stiles and first United States Senator from Rhode Island Theodore Foster.
The Industrial Revolution began in America in 1789 when Moses Brown invested in a water-powered textile mill designed and run by Samuel Slater. As the Industrial Revolution moved large numbers of workers into the cities, a permanently landless, and therefore voteless, class developed. By 1829, 60% of the state's free white males were ineligible to vote.
Several attempts had been made to address this problem, but none were successful. In 1842, Thomas Dorr drafted a liberal constitution which was passed by popular referendum. However, the conservative sitting governor, Samuel Ward King, opposed the people's wishes, leading to the Dorr Rebellion. Although this was not a success, a modified version of the constitution was passed in November, which allowed any white male to vote if he owned land or could pay a $1 poll tax.
In addition to industrialization, Rhode Island was heavily involved in the slave trade during the post-revolution era. Slavery was extant in the state as early as 1652, and by 1774, the slave population of Rhode Island was 6.3%, nearly twice as high as any other New England colony. In the late 18th century, several Rhode Island merchant families began actively engaging in the triangle slave trade. Notable among these was brothers John and Nicholas of the Brown family, for whom Brown University is named, although some Browns, particularly Moses, became prominent abolitionists. In the years after the Revolution, Rhode Island merchants controlled between 60% and 90% of the American trade in African slaves.
During the Civil War, Rhode Island was the first Union state to send troops in response to President Lincoln's request for help from the states. Rhode Island furnished 25,236 fighting men, of whom 1,685 died. On the home front, Rhode Island, along with the other northern states, used its industrial capacity to supply the Union Army with the materials it needed to win the war. The United States Naval Academy moved here temporarily during the war.
In 1866, Rhode Island abolished racial segregation in the public schools throughout the state.
Post-war immigration increased the population. From the 1860s to the 1880s, most immigrants were from England, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, and Quebec. Toward the end of the century, however, most immigrants were from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. At the turn of the century, Rhode Island had a booming economy, which fed the demand for immigration. In the years leading up to World War I, Rhode Island's constitution remained reactionary, in contrast to the more progressive reforms that were occurring in the rest of the country. The state never ratified the 18th Amendment establishing national prohibition of alcohol. During World War I, Rhode Island furnished 28,817 troops, of whom 612 died. After the war, the state was hit hard by the Spanish Influenza. In the 1920s and 1930s, rural Rhode Island saw a surge in Ku Klux Klan membership, largely in reaction to the large waves of immigrants moving to the state. The Klan is believed to be responsible for burning the Watchman Industrial School in Scituate, which was a school for African American children.
In the 20th century, the state continued to grow, though the decline in industry devastated many urban areas. These areas were affected further, as with the rest of the country's urban areas, by construction of Interstate highways through city cores and the suburbanization caused by it and by the GI Bill.
Rhode Island's continued growth and modernization led to the creation of an urban mass transit system and improved health and sanitation programs.
Since the Great Depression, the Rhode Island Democratic Party has dominated local politics. Rhode Island has comprehensive health insurance for low-income children, and a large social safety net. Many urban areas still have a high rate of children in poverty. Due to an influx of residents from Boston, increasing housing costs have resulted in more homeless in Rhode Island.
Income tax was first enacted in 1971.
The Republican Party, virtually non-existent in the state legislature, has successfully nominated state-wide "good government" reform candidates who criticize the state's high taxes and the excesses of the Democratic Party. Current Governor Donald Carcieri of East Greenwich, and former Mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci of Providence (who later became an independent political boss, and was convicted on RICO charges) ran as Republican reform candidates.
In recent years[when?] former Speaker of the House John Harwood, State Senator John Celona, and State Senate President William Irons were forced to resign amid scandals.
In 2003, a nightclub fire in West Warwick claimed one hundred lives and caught national attention. The fire resulted in criminal sentences.
In March, 2010, areas of the state received record flooding due to rising rivers from heavy rain. The first period of rainy weather in mid-March caused localized flooding, but just two weeks later, more rain caused more widespread flooding in many towns, especially south of Providence. Rain totals on March 29-30, 2010 exceeded 14 inches in many locales, resulting in the inundation of area rivers - especially the Pawtuxet River which runs through central Rhode Island. The overflow of the Pawtuxet River, nearly 11 feet above flood stage, submerged a sewage plant and closed a five mile stretch of Interstate 95. In addition, it flooded two shopping malls, numerous businesses, and many homes in Warwick, West Warwick, Cranston, and Westerly. Amtrak service between New York and Boston was also suspended during this period.
The capital of Rhode Island is Providence. The state's current governor is Donald L. Carcieri (R), and the lieutenant governor is Elizabeth H. Roberts. Its United States Senators are Jack Reed (D) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D). Rhode Island's two United States Congressmen are Patrick J. Kennedy (D-1) and Jim Langevin (D-2). See congressional districts map.
Rhode Island is one of a few states that does not have an official Governor's residence. See List of Rhode Island Governors.
The state legislature is the Rhode Island General Assembly, consisting of the 75-member House of Representatives and the 38-member Senate. Both houses of the bicameral body are currently dominated by the Democratic Party.
Because Rhode Island's population barely crosses the threshold for additional votes in both the federal House and electoral college, it is well represented relative to its population, with the eighth-highest number of electoral votes and second-highest number of House Representatives per resident. Based on its area, Rhode Island even has the highest density of electoral votes.
Federally, Rhode Island is one of the most reliably Democratic states during presidential elections, regularly giving the Democratic nominees one of their best showings. In 1980, Rhode Island was one of only 6 states to vote against Ronald Reagan. Reagan did carry Rhode Island in his 49-state victory in 1984, but the state was the second weakest of the states Reagan won. Rhode Island was the Democrats' leading state in 1988 and 2000, and second-best in 1996 and 2004. The state was devoted to Republicans until 1908, but has only strayed from the Democrats 7 times in the 24 elections that have followed. In 2004, Rhode Island gave John Kerry more than a 20-percentage-point margin of victory (the third-highest of any state), with 59.4% of its vote. All but three of Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns voted for the Democratic candidate. The only exceptions were East Greenwich, West Greenwich and Scituate. In 2008, Rhode Island gave Barack Obama a 29-percentage-point margin of victory (the third-highest of any state), with 64% of its vote. All of Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns voted for the Democratic candidate, except for Scituate.
Rhode Island has abolished capital punishment, making it one of 15 states that have done so. Rhode Island abolished the death penalty very early, just after Michigan (the first state to abolish it), and carried out its last execution in the 1840s. As of November 2009 Rhode Island is no longer one of two states in which prostitution is legal, provided it took place indoors. In a 2009 study Rhode Island was listed as the 9th safest state in the country.
Rhode Island has some of the highest taxes in the country, particularly its property taxes, ranking seventh in local and state taxes, and sixth in real estate taxes.
Rhode Island is the third state in the United States to pass legislation to allow the use of medical marijuana.
The center of population of Rhode Island is located in Providence County, in the city of Cranston. A corridor of population can be seen from the Providence area, stretching northwest following the Blackstone River to Woonsocket, where nineteenth-century mills drive industry and development. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2005, Rhode Island had an estimated population of 1,076,189, which is a decrease of 3,727, or 0.3%, from the prior year and an increase of 27,870, or 2.7%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 15,220 people (that is 66,973 births minus 51,753 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 14,001 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 18,965 people, and migration within the country produced a net decrease of 4,964 people.
The six largest ancestry groups in Rhode Island are: Irish (19%), Italian (19%), French Canadian (17.3%), English (12%), Hispanic 11% (predominantly Puerto Rican and Dominican, with smaller Central American populations), and Portuguese (8.7%).
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 8.07% of the population aged 5 and older speaks Spanish at home, while 3.80% speaks Portuguese, 1.96% French, and 1.39% Italian.
6.1% of Rhode Island's population were reported as under 5, 23.6% under 18, and 14.5% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 52% of the population.
Rhode Island has a higher percentage of Americans of Portuguese ancestry (who dominate Bristol County), including Portuguese Americans and Cape Verdean Americans than any other state in the nation. Additionally, the state also has the highest percentage of Liberian immigrants, with more than 15,000 residing. French Canadians form a large part of northern Providence County whereas Irish Americans have a strong presence in Newport and Kent counties. Yankees of English ancestry still have a presence in the state as well, especially in Washington county, and are often referred to as "Swamp Yankees." African immigrants, including Cape Verdean Americans, Liberian Americans, Nigerian Americans and Ghanaian Americans, form significant and growing communities in Rhode Island. Although Rhode Island has the smallest total area of all fifty states, it has the second highest population density in the Union, second only to New Jersey.
The religious affiliations of the people of Rhode Island are:
The largest single Protestant denominations are the Episcopalians with 26,756 and the Baptists with 20,997 adherents.
Rhode Island has the highest percentage of Roman Catholics in the nation mainly due to large Irish, Italian, and French Canadian immigration in the past (these three groups form roughly 55%–60% of the state population); recently, significant Portuguese (though Portuguese communities have existed since the mid 19th century) and various Hispanic communities (these two groups form roughly 20% of the state population) have also been established in the state. Though it has the highest overall Catholic percentage of any state, none of Rhode Island's individual counties ranks among the 10 most Catholic in the United States, as Catholics are very evenly spread throughout the state.
Rhode Island and Utah are the only two states in which a majority of the population are members of a single religious body.
There are 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island. Major population centers today result from historical factors — with the advent of the water-powered mill development took place predominantly along the Blackstone, Seekonk, and Providence Rivers.
Ranked by population, the state's 8 cities are:
In common with many other New England states, some Rhode Island cities and towns are further partitioned into villages that reflect historic townships which were later combined for administrative purposes. Notable villages include Kingston, in the town of South Kingstown, which houses the University of Rhode Island, and Wickford, in North Kingstown, the site of an annual international art festival.
The Rhode Island economy had a colonial base in fishing and farming, each of which respectively became shipping and manufacturing upon independence.
The Blackstone River Valley is known as the "Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution". It was in Pawtucket that Samuel Slater set up Slater Mill in 1793, using the waterpower of the Blackstone River to power his cotton mill. For a while, Rhode Island was one of the leaders in textiles. However, with the Great Depression, most textile factories relocated to the American South. The textile industry still constitutes a part of the Rhode Island economy, but does not have the same power that it once had. Other important industries in Rhode Island's past included toolmaking, costume jewelry and silverware. An interesting by-product of Rhode Island's industrial history is the amount of abandoned factories - many of them now being used for low-income or elderly housing, or converted into offices or condominiums. Today, much of the economy of state is based in services, particularly healthcare and education, and still to some extent, manufacturing.
The headquarters of Citizens Financial Group, a 160 billion dollar banking corporation which operates in many parts of the US, is located in Providence. The Fortune 500 companies CVS Caremark and Textron are based in Woonsocket and Providence, respectively. FM Global, Hasbro, American Power Conversion, Nortek, and Amica Mutual Insurance are all Fortune 1000 companies based in Rhode Island. The GTECH Corporation is headquartered in Providence.
Rhode Island's 2000 total gross state product was $33 billion, placing it 45th in the nation. Its 2000 per capita personal income was $29,685, 16th in the nation. Rhode Island has the lowest level of energy consumption per capita of any state.
Health services are Rhode Island's largest industry. Second is tourism, supporting 39,000 jobs, with tourism-related sales at $3.26 billion in the year 2000. The third-largest industry is manufacturing. Its industrial outputs are costume jewelry, fabricated metal products, electrical equipment, machinery, shipbuilding and boatbuilding. Rhode Island's agricultural outputs are nursery stock, vegetables, dairy products and eggs.
The state's taxes are appreciably higher than neighboring states. Governor Carcieri has claimed that this higher tax rate has had an inhibitory effect on business growth in the state and is calling for reductions to increase the competitiveness of the state's business environment. Rhode Island's income tax is based on 25% of the payer's federal income tax payment.
As of January 2010, the states unemployment rate is 12.7%.
The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), which has its hub in downtown Providence manages local bus transit for the state, serving 38 out of 39 Rhode Island communities. RIPTA has 58 bus lines, 2 tourist trolley lines known as LINK, and a seasonal ferry to Newport. The southern terminus of the MBTA commuter rail Providence/Stoughton Line is also in downtown Providence and connects to Boston. Ferry services link Block Island, Prudence Island, and Hog Island to the Rhode Island mainland.
The major airports are T. F. Green Airport in Warwick and Logan International Airport in Boston. The commuter rail is in the process of being extended to T.F. Green airport, which will link the airport to Providence and Boston by rail.
Interstate 95 runs diagonally across the state connecting major population centers, while the auxiliary interstate 295 provides a bypass around Providence. Narragansett Bay has a number of bridge crossings connecting Aquidneck Island and Conanicut Island to the mainland, most notably the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge and the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge.
Rhode Island has several colleges and universities:
Some Rhode Islanders speak with a non-rhotic accent that many compare to a "Brooklyn" or a cross between a New York and Boston accent ("water" becomes "wata"). Many Rhode Islanders distinguish the aw sound (/ɔː/) as one might hear in New Jersey; e.g., the word coffee is pronounced [ˈkɔːfiː] KAW-fee.
Nicknamed "The Ocean State", the nautical nature of Rhode Island's geography pervades its culture. Newport Harbor, in particular, holds many pleasure boats. In the lobby of the state's main airport, T. F. Green, is a large lifesize sailboat, and the state's license plates depict an ocean wave.
Additionally, the large number of beaches in Washington County lures many Rhode Islanders south for summer vacation.
The state was notorious for organized crime activity from the 1950s into the 1990s when the Patriarca crime family held sway over most of New England from its Providence headquarters. Although the power of organized crime has greatly diminished in Rhode Island over the last 20 years, its residents are still stigmatized by popular perceptions of rampant graft and corruption that have haunted the state for decades.
Rhode Islanders developed a unique style of architecture in the 17th century, called the stone-ender.
Rhode Island is the only state to still celebrate Victory over Japan Day. It is known locally as "VJ Day", or simply "Victory Day".
Several foods and dishes are unique to Rhode Island and some are hard to find outside of the state.
Hot wieners, which are sometimes called gaggers, weenies, or New York System wieners, are smaller than a standard hot dog, served covered in a meat sauce, chopped onions, mustard, and celery salt.
Famous to Rhode Island is Snail Salad, which is served at numerous restaurants throughout the state. The dish is normally prepared "family style" with over five pounds of snails mixed in with other ingredients commonly found in seafood dishes.
Grinders are submarine sandwiches, with a popular version being the Italian grinder, which is made with cold cuts (usually ham, prosciutto, capicola, salami, and Provolone cheese). Linguiça (a spicy Portuguese sausage) and peppers, eaten with hearty bread, is also popular among the state's large Portuguese community.
Pizza strips. Prepared in Italian bakeries and sold in most supermarkets and convenience stores, they are rectangular strips of pizza without the cheese and are served cold. "Party pizza" is a box of these pizza strips.
Spinach pies are similar to a calzone but filled with seasoned spinach instead of meat, sauce and cheese. Variations can include black olives or pepperoni with the spinach, or broccoli instead of spinach.
As in colonial times, johnny cakes are made with corn meal and water, and then pan-fried much like pancakes.
During fairs and carnivals, Rhode Islanders enjoy dough boys, which are plate-sized disks of deep fried dough sprinkled with sugar (sometimes powdered). Rhode Island zeppolas or zeppolis are different. Traditionally eaten on Saint Joseph's Day (widely celebrated across the state), St. Joseph's Day zeppolis are doughnut-like pastries with exposed centers of vanilla pudding or ricotta cream, topped with a cherry.
As in many coastal states, seafood is readily available. Shellfish is extremely popular, with clams being used in multiple ways. The quahog (or quahaug, taken from the Narragansett Indian word "poquauhock" - see A Key into the Language of America by Roger Williams 1643) is a large clam usually used in a chowder. It is also ground and mixed with stuffing (and sometimes spicy minced sausage) and then baked in its shell to form a stuffie. Steamed clams are also a very popular dish.
Calamari (squid) is sliced into rings and fried and is served as an appetizer in most Italian restaurants, typically Sicilian-style, i.e. tossed with spicy peppers and with marinara sauce on the side.
Rhode Island, like the rest of New England, has a tradition of clam chowder. While both the white New England variety and the red Manhattan variety are popular, there is also a unique clear chowder, known as Rhode Island Clam Chowder available in many restaurants. According to Good Eats, the addition of tomatoes in place of milk was initially the work of Portuguese immigrants in Rhode Island, as tomato-based stews were already a traditional part of Portuguese cuisine, and milk was costlier than tomatoes. Scornful New Englanders called this modified version "Manhattan-style" clam chowder because, in their view, calling someone a New Yorker was an insult
Perhaps the most unusual culinary tradition in Rhode Island is the clam cake. The clam cake (also known as a clam fritter outside of Rhode Island) is a deep fried ball of buttery dough with chopped bits of clam inside. They are sold by the half-dozen or dozen in most seafood restaurants around the state. The quintessential summer meal in Rhode Island is chowder and clam cakes.
Clams Casino originated in Rhode Island after being invented by Julius Keller, the maitre d' in the original Casino next to the seaside Towers in Narragansett. Clams Casino resemble the beloved stuffed quahog but are generally made with the smaller littleneck or cherrystone clam and are unique in their use of bacon as a topping.
According to a Providence Journal article, the state features both the highest number and highest density of coffee/doughnut shops per capita in the country, with 342 coffee/doughnut shops in the state. At one point, Dunkin' Donuts alone had over 225 locations.
The official state drink of Rhode Island is coffee milk, a beverage created by mixing milk with coffee syrup. This unique syrup was invented in the state and is sold in almost all Rhode Island supermarkets. Although coffee milk contains some caffeine, it is sold in school cafeterias throughout the state. Strawberry milk is also popular.
Frozen lemonade, a mixture of ice slush, lemons, and sugar is popular in the summer, especially Del's Frozen Lemonade, a company based in Cranston.
The Farrelly brothers and Seth MacFarlane depict Rhode Island in popular culture, often making comedic parodies of the state. MacFarlane's television series Family Guy is based in a fictional Rhode Island city named Quahog, and notable local events and celebrities are regularly lampooned.
The movie High Society, starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra, was set in Newport, Rhode Island.
The film adaptation of The Great Gatsby from 1974 was also filmed in Newport.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and John F. Kennedy were married at St. Mary's church in Newport, RI. Their reception was held at Hammersmith Farm, the Bouvier summer home in Newport.
Cartoonist Don Bousquet, a state icon, has made a career out of Rhode Island culture, drawing Rhode Island-themed gags in the Providence Journal and Yankee magazine. These cartoons have been reprinted in the Quahog series of paperbacks (I Brake for Quahogs, Beware of the Quahog and The Quahog Walks Among Us.) Bousquet has also collaborated with humorist and Providence Journal columnist Mark Patinkin on two books: The Rhode Island Dictionary and The Rhode Island Handbook.
Writer David Lafleche has written two books based in the semi-fictitious city of Thundermist: Thundermist 04167 and A Week Without Sunshine. ("Thundermist" is accepted as a secondary name of Woonsocket.)
The 1998 film, Meet Joe Black was filmed at Aldrich Mansion in the Warwick Neck area of Warwick, RI.
Rhode Island has two professional sports teams; both of which are top-level minor league affiliates for teams in Boston. The Pawtucket Red Sox, of the AAA International League, are an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The Pawtucket Red Sox play at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and have won two league titles in 1973 and 1984. The other professional minor league team is the Providence Bruins, who are an American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins. The Providence Bruins play in the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence and won the AHL's Calder Cup during the 1998–99 AHL season. The National Football League's New England Patriots play at Gillette Stadium in nearby Foxborough, Massachusetts, approximately 18 miles north of Providence.
There are four NCAA Division I schools. The four teams all compete in four different conferences. The Brown University Bears compete in the Ivy League, the Bryant Bulldogs compete in the Northeast Conference, the Providence Friars compete in the Big East Conference and the Rhode Island Rams compete in the Atlantic-10 Conference. Three of the schools compete in the FCS division for college football. Brown, Bryant and Rhode Island are the three schools who currently field football teams.
Rhode Island also has a long and storied history for athletics. Prior to the great expansion of athletic teams all over the country Providence and Rhode Island in general played a great role in supporting teams. The Providence Grays won the first World Championship in baseball history in 1884. The team played their home games at the old Messer Street Field in Providence. The Grays played in the National League from 1878 to 1885. They defeated the New York Metropolitans of the American Association in a best of five game series at the Polo Grounds in New York. Providence won three straight games to become the first champions in major league baseball history. Babe Ruth played for the minor league Providence Grays of 1914 and hit his only official minor league home run for that team before being recalled by the Grays parent club, the Boston Red Stockings.
A now defunct professional football team, the Providence Steam Roller won the 1928 NFL title. They played in a 10,000 person stadium called the Cycledrome. A team by a similar name, the Providence Steamrollers, played in the Basketball Association of America; which would become the National Basketball Association.
From 1930 to 1983, America's Cup races were sailed off Newport, and the both extreme-sport X Games and Gravity Games were founded and hosted in the state's capital city.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame is in Newport at the Newport Casino, site of the first U.S. National Championships in 1881. The Hall of Fame and Museum were established in 1954 by James Van Alen as "a shrine to the ideals of the game." The Hall of Fame Museum encompasses over 20,000 square feet of tennis history, chronicling tennis excellence from the 12th century to today. The Hall of Fame has 13 grass courts, and is the site of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, the only professional tennis event played on grass courts in the United States. The first members of the Hall of Fame were inducted in 1955, and as of 2008, there are 207 players, contributors, and court tennis players in the Hall of Fame.
The state capitol building is made of white Georgian marble. On top is the world's fourth largest self-supported marble dome. It houses the Rhode Island Charter of 1663 and other state treasures.
The First Baptist Church in America is the oldest Baptist church in the Americas, founded by Roger Williams in 1638.
The first fully automated post office in the country is located in Providence. There are many mansions in the seaside city of Newport, including The Breakers, Marble House and Belcourt Castle. Also located there is the Touro Synagogue, dedicated on 2 December 1763, considered by locals to be the first synagogue within the United States (see below for information on New York City's claim), and still serving. The synagogue showcases the religious freedoms that were established by Roger Williams as well as impressive architecture in a mix of the classic colonial and Sephardic style. The Newport Casino is a National Historic Landmark building complex that presently houses the International Tennis Hall of Fame and features an active grass-court tennis club.
Scenic Route 1A (known locally as Ocean Road) is in Narragansett. "The Towers", a large stone arch, is located in Narragansett. It was once the entrance to a famous Narragansett casino that burned down in 1900. The towers now serve as a tourist information center.
The Newport Tower has been hypothesized to be of Viking origin, although most experts believe it was a Colonial-era windmill.