Luca Sawada
Coldwell Banker Realty

Fox Point, Providence, RI, MLS Listings

Fox Point, Providence, RI

Map of Fox Point neighborhood, Providence, Rhode Island


Fox Point

Located east of Downtown Providence and the Jewelry District is Fox Point, a dense residential neighborhood that has long been home to a large segment of Providence’s Portuguese population. Fox Point is bounded by the Providence and Seekonk rivers; Interstate 195 on the south; and the College Hill neighborhood on the north. Once the city’s major seaport and home to a large working-class Irish-American population, Fox Point now has a mix of lower, middle and upper middle-income residents, including a sizable population of students and recent graduates. The housing primarily consists of a mix of single-family and two- and three-unit houses.

The Fox Point community is among the oldest neighborhoods in the city. Settlers began arriving in the first half of the seventeenth century, not long after Roger Williams and his followers came to the area via the Seekonk River. Originally the area was used as farmland by those who settled east of Hope Street. In 1680, when the city’s first College Hill, Fox Point and Wayland History Timeline Late 1800s – Jewelry and metal trades fl ourish on and around Main Street; transit connections (horse carriage) enable residential development in Wayland. 1892 – RISD occupies a section of Waterman Street. Early 1900s – Apartment buildings are constructed in Wayland. 1924 – Immigration laws are changed, slowing settlement in Fox Point. Post-WW II – The Wayland Square retail area grows; Brown and RISD expand into residential areas. 1960s-1970s – Housing rehabilitation eff 1980-present – Brown constructs several large buildings within its institutional zone. orts focus on Benefi t and South Main streets. 1965 – Immigration laws are relaxed, spurring additional settlement in Fox Point. 1970s-present – Thayer Street grows as a retail and restaurant destination. 1980s-present – The student population grows, especially in Fox Point. 9 port was constructed at Transit Street, the area became a hub for maritime activities. The waterfront at India Point derived its name from the “Indiamen” trading ships that traveled to and from the West Indies.

For the next 100 years, settlers worked almost exclusively on Fox Point’s waterfront. By 1800, 58 wharves spanned the waterfront from Fox Point to Smith Street. Despite the vitality of this maritime area, Fox Point was not a distinct neighborhood within Providence until the late 1700s/early 1800s. Upon the establishment of street patterns, residential development occurred within the area bounded by Hope and Benefit streets.

The growth of transportation facilities, along with an accessible harbor, drew newly developing industries to Providence. The Boston and Providence Railroad located its first station near the Fox Point waterfront in 1835. Another line, which ran from Providence to Stonington, Connecticut, completed a station in the western part of Fox Point just two years later. This relatively sophisticated transportation network for land and water brought various factories to the neighborhood, including Fuller Iron Works, constructed on Pike Street in 1840, and the Providence Tool Company, which was built on Wickenden Street in 1844.

Because of the booming maritime industry, the Fox Point area attracted a large number of Irish immigrants meeting the demand for skilled and unskilled laborers to construct both the Canal project in 1825-1828 and the Providence railroad in 1831-1835. Rhode Island’s first Roman Catholic Church was established in the neighborhood in 1813, followed by another, St. Joseph’s. By 1865, more than half the population of Fox Point was foreign-born, the majority being Irish immigrants concentrated in the waterfront section of “Corky Hill.”

The bluff known as “Corky Hill” was razed as a part of a city slum clearance project from 1876 to 1880; the earth was used to expand the neighborhood by filling in part of the Seekonk River. Large numbers of Irish were relocated to multi-family tenement houses on the newly constructed Gano Street. Portuguese immigration was heavy, starting in the second half of the nineteenth century and continuing until 1924, when immigration laws were changed. The Fox Point area became home to many Portuguese, Cape Verdeans and Azoreans in search of factory and waterfront jobs. Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church was established by these immigrants in 1885.

By 1965, immigration statutes were relaxed and Portuguese immigration resumed. Today, the Portuguese population remains a large part of Fox Point’s overall population. Even after the recent heavy influx of urban middle class residents and students from Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, more than 32 percent of Fox Point residents claim Portuguese ancestry.

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the Fox Point neighborhood has undergone significant changes. The waterfront area is no longer used as a harbor, and today much of it lies within India Point Park. Further, the construction of 195 resulted in slum clearance and the demolition of a great deal of the built environment that had been the southern section of Fox Point. Due to the changes on South Main Street resulting from urban renewal and historic preservation efforts, this area is now distinct from the core of the Fox Point neighborhood. Nevertheless, the neighborhood retains much of its history, in particular the influence of its immigrant populations.

Content from "Providence Tomorrow".

Luca Sawada

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