Pawtucket | Central Falls | Cumberland


Although each its own municipality, the cities of Pawtucket, Central Falls and Cumberland act as a cohesive, tri-community unit along the Broad Street corridor. The mixed-use layout of the community brings residential, community and business together in a shared space. The land the cities fall on served as a prime location for colonial settlers during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution due to its proximity to both the Atlantic Ocean and the various bays and rivers touching it, most notably the Blackstone River. Broad Street has historically been a melting pot of rich cultures, from the European and Asian immigrants of the 1700 and 1800ís, to the Latin American, Caribbean and African immigrants of today. Many of Broad Streetís businesses and government or religious buildings reflect its history and are listed or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Hereís a quick look at the three cities that house Broad Street.


Pawtucket, founded in 1671, was an original New England mill town. The city now boasts a diverse population of over 72,000 inhabitants and is strategically situated at the falls of the Blackstone River and the upper tidewaters of Narragansett Bay. This was an ideal place for industrial commerce. Itís no wonder Samuel Slater successfully constructed and operated machines for spinning cotton yarn in 1793 at the Slater Mill Historic Site, which today is still a popular tourist location. The industrial development of Pawtucket continued to expand for the next century making it a highly developed and important manufacturing center.

Today, Pawtucket is a high-traffic city with convenient links to other major metropolitan areas via Interstate 95. With tens of thousands of residential housing units, hundreds of employment industries and one thousand commercial and service establishments, the city thrives. Over the last twenty years, city development policies have been targeted at several areas: Improvement of the quality of residential neighborhoods, expansion of employment opportunities and assistance to the commercial sector with rehabilitation loans and location incentive loans.

Broad Street is one of the largest, heavily-traveled, commercial corridors that leads to downtown Pawtucket. The street works as an access way to and from Pawtucket, while the city presents a motivation for many people to patronize Broad Street.

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Central Falls

Central Falls, once recorded as the most densely populated city in the nation by Ripleyís Believe it or Not, has been home to many newly immigrated groups. Inhabited primarily by Native American tribes prior to the 1800ís, the area experienced a large population increase with the growth of the textile industry during the Industrial Revolution. The city was originally a village in the town of Smithfield, which encompassed about 30 villages. It was split up in 1871 to create three towns: Lincoln, Smithfield and North Smithfield. Central Falls fell into Lincolnís district and within twenty-four years had grown so much that it was chartered on February, 21, 1895 as The City of Central Falls.

While the cityís past settlers were mostly from Europe, the more recent population boom has come from Latin America. Many came after hearing word of the plentiful jobs in the textile industry during the 1970ís. The curiosity sparked by friends and relatives drew more and more Latinos into the neighborhood. Today this accounts for the over 80% Latino/ Hispanic ownership of businesses along Broad Street in Central Falls.

Large populations of Colombian and Portuguese people have come as well as Cape Veridians from the North Western coast of Africa. This has created a unique cultural environment in the city and contributes to its lively, diverse communities. Central Falls has many local, ethnic restaurants and shops. The city has recently experienced a few bumps in the road due to the economic downturn, but still is an up-and-coming area in the Providence-area.

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Cumberland originally drew in settlers because of its close proximity to many New England locations. The same is true today. The town still retains its early rural charm even with the steady growth in industry, commerce and population. It was one of five towns received from Massachusetts by Royal Decree. The town was known as Attleboro Gore until 1746, when it was incorporated in Rhode Island as the town of Cumberland. Cumberland was named in honor of William, the Duke of Cumberland.

Cumberland's early industrial growth centered around the abundant water power of the Blackstone and Abbott Run Rivers. Minerals such as iron and copper were once mined in Cumberland. The town was once known as the mineral deposit of New England because of the extensive mineral deposits within its border. Several shafts ó more than 100 years old ó are still visible, but mineral deposits are no longer commercially mined. Today, manufacturing and retail trade are the largest sources of income in Cumberland. The continued industrial and commercial growth has contributed greatly to Cumberland's tax base. Cumberland's country atmosphere, convenient location and continued growth make this town an excellent choice for residence and business interests.

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Broad Street Regeneration Initiative  c/o Blackstone Valley Tourism Council
175 Main Street  Pawtucket, Rhode Island  02860  USA  Tel:  1-401-724-2200