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Providence is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island, and one of the first cities established in the United States. Located in Providence County, it is the estimated third-largest city in the New England region. Despite having an estimated population of 175,255 as of 2006, it anchors the 36th largest metropolitan population in the country, with an estimated MSA population of 1,622,520, exceeding that of Rhode Island by about 60% due to its reaching into southern Massachusetts. Situated at the mouth of the Providence River, on Narragansett Bay, the city's small footprint is crisscrossed by seemingly erratic streets and a rapidly changing demographic using them. Providence was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of "God's merciful Providence" which he believed was responsible for his finding such a haven to settle. After being one of the first cities in the country to industrialize, Providence became noted for its jewelry and silverware industry. Today, Providence city proper alone is home to eight hospitals and seven institutions of higher learning, which has shifted the former's economy into service industries, though it still retains significant manufacturing work. The city was once nicknamed the "Beehive of Industry", while today "The Renaissance City" is more common, though as of 2000 census, its poverty rate was still among the ten highest for cities over 100,000.

Much of Providence culture is synonymous with Rhode Island culture. Like the state, the city has a non-rhotic accent which can be heard on local media. Providence also shares Rhode Island's propensity for coffee, as the former has the most coffee/doughnut shops per capita of any city in the country. Providence is also reputed to have the highest number of restaurants per capita, many of which are founded and/or staffed by its own Johnson & Wales graduates. Providence has several ethnic neighborhoods, notably Federal Hill and the North End (Italian), Fox Point (Cape Verdean and Portuguese), West End (mainly Central American and Asians), and Smith Hill (Irish with miscellaneous enclaves of other groups.) There are also many dedicated community organizations and arts associations located in the city.

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