The history of Pawtucket and its mills reaches all the way back to 1793. With the Industrial Revolution sweeping across all 15 states, development was on the forefront of everyone’s mind. What products could they make? How many jobs would be brought to the community?
Slater Mill was not only the first fully mechanized cotton-spinning mill in the City of Pawtucket, but the first of its kind in the whole of the United States. Other mills of the time were still relying on horse-drawn carriages. Back when horsepower was about as literal as it could get. Pawtucket’s manufacturing grew, adding iron works, textiles, and more while following the path that Slater Mill paved.
What started over two centuries ago continues at an even stronger pace today. Pawtucket’s mills have evolved. Rather than the pillars of mechanical industry they used to be, they adapted, modernized to fill a vacant role that’s been desperately needed.
Pawtucket is highly regarded on the national level as one of the top arts-friendly cities in the country. Mills such as Slater, Colonial and Lorraine on Mineral Spring, The Mills at 545 Pawtucket Ave., Hope Artiste Village, and more have opened their doors in support of this fact, and in support of their community at large. Local businesses have opened up shop, allowed to craft the business they love the way they’ve always wanted. Breweries are on the rise. Art studios found a home for themselves amidst the open spaces, with the large, quintessential mill windows letting the sunlight pour in over the city’s skyline.
Initiatives like these have renewed the energy of Pawtucket, breathing new life in a city eager for the types of change that the continued development of other, similar projects will bring. Projects that bring in $1million annually already, and they’re only just getting started. Businesses and artists aren’t the only benefactors of these mills, either. Others have been renovated into incredible apartment complexes, with sites like Lorraine Mills and Hope Artiste Village housing over 200 tenants and more than 120 unique businesses.
Growth is an important factor for every city on the rise. Not only the means to achieve it, but the space to be able to act on the new opportunities that follow in its wake. With Pawtucket’s mills standing proud as both beautiful glimpses into the city’s past, as well as the innovation and success on display from today, the future has never looked brighter.
- Mayor Donald R. Grebien