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Pawtucket is not only an outstanding community in which to live and work but is also a great place to play and be entertained. From Chinese dragon boats to championship Triple-A baseball, handcrafted jewelry exhibitors to live music in numerous genres, plus historical attractions, three critically acclaimed theater companies and top-notch recreational facilities, Pawtucket’s your ticket for a day of fun or a night on the town.
Building on a Proud History of Innovation
Discover how a young industrialist who left England to launch a water-powered cotton mill in Pawtucket changed the world forever. More than 200 years ago, Samuel Slater had an idea. He built a wooden clapboard structure the size of a large garage and installed some machinery. Then he tapped the hydropower of both the Blackstone River and Pawtucket Falls. The result: For the first time in this country, cotton thread was spun by machine instead of by hand. The nation’s Industrial Revolution had begun.
Visit Slater Mill, which is located in one of America’s newest national parks. The museum complex at 67 Roosevelt Avenue offers a fascinating tribute to Samuel Slater and the industrial innovations he began in America.
You will get an authentic glimpse of life in a 19th century industrial village with guides and re-enactors in traditional garb. Touring Slater Mill will bring you back to the early 1800s. At the adjacent Sylvanus Brown House (1758), you can witness demonstrations of hand spinning and weaving or watch a 16,000 lb. water wheel – the only one of its kind in the country – power the machine shop in the Wilkinson Mill (1810-1811). You can also enjoy exhibits of 19th and 20th century machinery, actual productions from an early textile factory and relive the evolution from handcrafting to machine production.
Just a couple of miles from Slater Mill you can tour the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame at 999 Main Street, Suite 100. Located in the vast Hope Artiste Village mill complex, with over 150 resident artisans, designers and entrepreneurs, you can view informative inductee exhibits celebrating Rhode Island’s great musical heritage. This unique attraction, promoting the State’s musical heritage, was named the Ocean State’s “Top Museum Worth Traveling For” by www.flipkey.com, a vacation-rental website that's part of TripAdvisor’s travel site. While you are at Hope Artiste Village, be sure to stop by New Harvest Coffee Roasters, 999 Main Street, Suite 108, where roaster Eric Lepine was named a winner of the 2014 Coastal New England Rising Stars Award from StarChefs.com.
Pawtucket’s Burgeoning Arts Community
Pay no sales tax on original artwork produced and sold by hundreds of Pawtucket artists in their own studios or showcased in the City’s numerous art galleries. More than 60 Pawtucket streets are located within this 307-acre zone, which wraps itself around the historic Slater Mill site and the downtown area. Or take a short hop to the Rhode Island Antiques Mall at 345 Fountain Street, visible from I-95, which twice Oscar-nominated, Rhode Island-born actor and antiques aficionado James Woods has been known to frequent.
The Pawtucket arts community features art studios and artists in every form, often in renovated commercial buildings and mills, such as printmakers, glass blowers, silversmiths, visual artists, graphic designers, leather workers, jewelry designers, photographers, screen printers, dance studios and others. Artists known the world over have their workplaces in Pawtucket. Some of the City’s famous artists include glass artist Howard Ben Tré, interior designer Morris Nathanson and artist Gretchen Dow Simpson, whose work has graced 58 covers of The New Yorker magazine.
Pawtucket Arts Festival
The City’s annual marquee event is the Pawtucket Arts Festival, which holds sway in the City’s historic downtown and at Festival Pier riverfront and Slater Memorial Park. The Festival kicks off the last weekend in August and spans the entire month of September, with a dizzying array of events, most at no charge and also with free parking.
The Pawtucket Arts Festival, in its 19th year, features hundreds of artists showcasing their arts and crafts, along with dozens of other attractions highlighting the visual, musical and performing arts. A statewide photography contest, film festival, juried art show and open studios tours of artist live/work spaces in mills in the Pawtucket Armory District, along with plays performed by local theaters, are among the many offerings. In addition, almost every color of the musical rainbow can be heard, including salsa, jazz, zydeco, doo-wop, blues, Irish, folk, pop and classical.
|One of New England’s largest festivals brings thousands of spectators to Festival Pier for the Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Races & Taiwan Day Festival, featuring spirited races on the Pawtucket River and folk dancing and traditional music along the pier. The Festival’s crowning event each year is the always much anticipated appearance of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra performing their Pops in the Park concert at Slater Memorial Park, capped by a dazzling fireworks display. Dragon Boats race on the Pawtucket river. This is a signature event of the City's Pawtucket Arts Festival. (Photo)|
On the Waterfront
Enjoy recreational water activities at the City’s boat ramp, dock and fishing areas below the Division Street Bridge. You can launch your small boat and make your way down river to beautiful Narragansett Bay. The City has completed a Comprehensive Plan to upgrade the Festival Pier area for the enjoyment of residents and guests alike.
In Pawtucket’s downtown there is the Riverfront Summer Concert Series, which features great music every Sunday during the summer. Blues, swing, jazz and Dixieland fill the air at the Veterans Memorial Amphitheatre next to the City Hall complex on Exchange Street. The Slater Park Summer Concert Series brightens the summer season with a wealth of programming geared towards children and families.
Full Recreational Facilities
There is also year-round ice skating at the Dennis M. Lynch Arena, 25 Andrew Ferland Way, and eye-opening exhibitions at the Rhode Island Watercolor Society in Slater Memorial Park on Newport Avenue, where its 435 acres also offer a great place to take a stroll. Or you can satisfy your palate at one of the City’s many fine restaurants offering food from vegetarian and numerous ethnic varieties to down-home cooking or sample your favorite craft beer at one of our several breweries. The enjoyment is here year round just waiting for you and your whole family to enjoy.
Slater Memorial Park is much more than a venue for music or a leisurely walk. The park features tennis and basketball courts, a bike path, fishing, picnic sites, paddle boats, an animal shelter and a dog park, plus a very special attraction: the Charles I. D. Looff Carousel, the oldest stander carousel in the world. Across from the carousel, enjoy the creative exhibits at the Rhode Island Watercolor Society. Be sure to also stroll over to the nearby Daggett House, the oldest house in Pawtucket and one of the oldest remaining buildings in Rhode Island. Constructed in 1685, the house is furnished with period antiquities, including needlework, Colonial pewter used during the Revolutionary War and china owned by the family of General Nathanael Greene.
On Center Stage
Musical comedies, Shakespeare and dramas presented just “as you like it” are performed by three resident Pawtucket theater troupes. The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre, 172 Exchange Street, describes its mission as creating “the finest of live theater, engaging the audience intensely in current and recurrent issues of consequence.” This theater was founded in 1984 and relocated to Pawtucket in 2003. The Community Players, established in 1921 and the oldest community theater group in Rhode Island, fills the seats at the Joseph Jenks Junior High School auditorium at 350 Division Street, across from McCoy Stadium. Since its founding in 2000 by Ricardo and Bernadet Pitts-Wiley, Mixed Magic Theatre, 560 Mineral Spring Avenue, has brought diverse stories to the stage through words and song from well-known dramas to original productions.
Live music, as it has for decades, continues to find a welcome home in Pawtucket. Stone Soup Coffeehouse, one of New England’s oldest coffee houses, brings nationally recognized folk singers to its home at Slater Mill, 67 Roosevelt Avenue. Come listen to the contemporary music at The Met, 1005 Main Street, or visit Machines with Magnets, 400 Main Street; News Café, 43 Broad Street; Arigna Irish Pub & Coal Fire Kitchen, 507 Armistice Boulevard; German American Cultural Society of Rhode Island, 78 Carter Avenue; for a sampling of the City’s live music venues.
For an entertaining visit of a different kind, the Pawtucket Armory Arts Center LLC, 172 Exchange Street (adjacent to The Gamm Theatre), has been transformed into a community meeting place. Once a year the Foundry Artists Association hosts their December holiday sale of unique arts and crafts, and the Pawtucket Open Market Place draws thousands of shoppers into the City’s historic downtown. The historic Pawtucket Armory building, built in 1894-1895 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, also has office space for cultural nonprofits.
At the Modern Diner, 364 East Avenue, place your order in the nation’s first diner to be accepted on the National Register of Historic Places. The Sterling Streamliner is from a line of customized “modernistic” diners manufactured in the late 1930s. Or let your palette be your guide on a culinary tour of exotic local restaurants, including Rasoi (Indian) and Garden Grille (vegetarian), both at 727 East Avenue; Plouffe’s Cup n’ Saucer (retro diner), 267 Main Street; Murphy’s Law Irish Pub & Restaurant, 2 George Street; Spumoni’s (Italian and seafood specialties), 1537 Newport Avenue; Bella Pasta Ristorante (Italian), 223 Newport Ave; Galito Restaurant (Portuguese), 214 Columbus Avenue; Pho Horn’s (Vietnamese), 50 Ann Mary Street; La Arepa (Venezuelan), 574 Smithfield Avenue; China Inn, 285 Main Street; 10 Rocks Tapas Bar & Restaurant (Cape Verdean), 1091 Main Street; the Fountain Street Grille in the LeFoyer Club, 151 Fountain Street; the Burger Bar, 855 Newport Avenue, among many others. For a comprehensive list of outstanding restaurants in Pawtucket, go to tripadvisor-Pawtucket.Wining, Dining and Fresh Foods Marketing
For beer enthusiasts, take a tour and experience the tastings at several craft beer breweries in the City: Foolproof Brewing Company, 241 Grotto Avenue; Bucket Brewery, 545 Pawtucket Avenue; Crooked Current Brewery, 560 Mineral Spring Avenue; and Isle Brewers Guild, a craft cooperative housing several mid to large-scale breweries, at 461 Main Street.
Paint & Vino, 150 Main Street, offers easy and fun lessons in acrylic painting. Each person also receives 2 complimentary glasses of wine or beer (must be 21+).
From November to May, Pawtucket becomes a destination for garden fresh produce and other goods from local farmers at the Farm Fresh RI’s Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers Market at Hope Artiste Village, 1005 Main Street. In the summer this farmers market moves to Slater Memorial Park. For details, go to www.farmfreshri.org. A typical Saturday at the Farm Fresh Rhode Island's Wintertime Farmers Market, Hope Artiste Village, 1005 Main Street. (Photo)
An array of community-sponsored activities, from the Pawtucket Fireworks Committee’s July 3rd pyrotechnics extravaganza at McCoy Stadium to colorful ethnic festivals (Portuguese, Colombian, Greek, Chinese and German), are held annually in Pawtucket. There is also the City’s over three decades old St. Patrick’s Parade, which steps off on the first Saturday in March to assure participation by some of the major Irish marching bands in the region and the inspiring sounds of their kilted bagpipers. Get into the spirit of Halloween by coming to TEN31 Productions’ Night at the Haunted Museum, Slater Mill’s Mills & Mysteries: A Ghostly Experience (Paranormal Investigation), Oak Hill’s Hootenanny Parade and the Haunted Tunnel at Slater Memorial Park, open Friday and Saturday evenings in October.
Topping off each year is Pawtucket’s Winter Wonderland spectacular in Slater Memorial Park in December. You can stroll through a Victorian village, consisting of buildings surrounded by hundreds of decorated Christmas trees, or revel in the special holiday spirit of carolers, bell ringers, clowns, puppeteers and musicians. Youngsters can also have their pictures taken with Santa and enjoy a hay ride.
- Mayor Donald R. Grebien