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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, Rhode Island is located in Rhode Island
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Location in Rhode Island
Pawtucket, Rhode Island is located in the United States
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Rhode Island
County Providence
Founded (town) 1671
Incorporated (city) 1886
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Total 8.96 sq mi (23.22 km2)
 • Land 8.67 sq mi (22.45 km2)
 • Water 0.30 sq mi (0.77 km2)
36 ft (11 m)
 • Total 75,604
 • Density 8,722/sq mi (3,367.7/km2)
Time zone UTC−5
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 401
FIPS code 44-54640
GNIS feature ID 1218926

Pawtucket 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 for helping to found the Industrial Revolution in the United States.


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


17th century

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

18th century

Other settlers followed Jencks, and by 1775 the area was home to manufacturers of muskets, linseed oil, potash, and ship building. Also around this time Oziel Wilkinson and his family set up an iron forge making anchors, nails, screws, farm implements, and even canons.

Merger and incorporation

Originally, the land west of the Blackstone River was part of nearby North Providence. East of the Blackstone River was originally settled as part of the Massachusetts town of Rehoboth, then was incorporated as Pawtucket, Massachusetts in 1828. In 1862 the eastern portion was absorbed into Providence County, Rhode Island.

In 1874, the land west of the river was taken from North Providence and added to the (now Rhode Island) town of Pawtucket, and in 1885-1886 West and East Pawtucket were merged and the city was incorporated.

Industrial Revolution

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. 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.

Pawtucket in 1886
Pawtucket in 1886 viewed from the steeple of the Pawtucket Congregational Church

20th century

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

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 lost much of its architectural heritage to the wrecking ball, including the Leroy Theatre.

But 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.


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

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.
1830 1,459
1840 2,184 49.7%
1850 3,753 71.8%
1860 4,200 11.9%
1870 6,619 57.6%
1880 19,030 187.5%
1890 27,633 45.2%
1900 39,231 42.0%
1910 51,622 31.6%
1920 64,248 24.5%
1930 77,149 20.1%
1940 75,797 −1.8%
1950 81,436 7.4%
1960 81,001 −0.5%
1970 76,984 −5.0%
1980 71,204 −7.5%
1990 72,644 2.0%
2000 72,958 0.4%
2010 71,148 −2.5%
2020 75,604 6.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
Folkloric Rancho of the Portuguese Social Club, Pawtucket, in the 2021 Bristol Fourth of July parade
The Portuguese Social Club of Pawtucket marches in the 2021 Bristol Fourth of July Parade

As of the census 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.

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. Like nearby cities Providence, Fall River, and New Bedford., Pawtucket hosts a significant population from across the former Portuguese Empire (11.6%), 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. Pawtucket has a high concentration of West Africans.

Arts and culture

Pawtucket Armory 2013
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, and over the past 40 years various organizations have been active in continuing that support of the local arts community and beyond. 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of that support and effort.

At one point The City of Pawtucket hired Researcher Ann Galligan, of Northeastern University, to create an arts and cultural plan. Allowing the city to become more proactive in retaining and attracting artists will enable city officials to allocate resources more effectively to meet the needs of Pawtucket's growing artist community. Over the years Pawtucket has become known as a center for arts and culture. The 2008 documentary Pawtucket Rising also chronicled the influx of artists and cultural activities into previously blighted areas of the city. Each September, the city, in conjunction with the "Pawtucket Arts Festival" organization, and a broad group of local community members, produce an annual city wide Arts Festival.

The American-French Genealogical Society was founded in Pawtucket in 1978.

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

In popular culture

  • 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.
  • Pawtucket has been frequently referenced in the cartoon series Family Guy, specifically the "Pawtucket Brewery" and the character "Pawtucket Pat", though no brewery existed in the real Pawtucket when the show first made references to them. The toy company that 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 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.
  • The swimming pool at Tolman High School was used for the 1990 movie Mermaids.

Sister town

Belper was where Samuel Slater had been apprenticed to Jedediah Strutt, learning the secrets of Richard Arkwright's Water Frame (and is sometimes known in that area as "Slater the traitor").


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

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

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


Pawtucket public schools
Samuel Slater Middle School
William E. Tolman High School
Shea High School

Public schools

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

Senior high schools

  • Charles E. Shea
  • William E. Tolman
  • Blackstone Academy Charter School

Middle schools

  • Joseph Jenks
  • Samuel Slater
  • Lyman B. Goff

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.

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 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. 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

Pawtucket Circulator map
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.

Notable people

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Pawtucket para niños

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