- Independence Trail
- South Main Street, Providence, RI
- Trailhead: 41°49’23.33″N, 71°24’20.52″W
- Last Time Hiked: February 2, 2014
- Approximate distance hiked: 2.5 miles
- Easy with some significant elevation.
This walk to most locals it is also known as the “green line” as the walk is marked literally by a green line that meanders through the city. The Independence Trail is similar to the Freedom Trail in Boston in its amount of rich history. Most people are unaware of how much history is here in Providence. In fact, some of it predates the history of Boston. Unlike the Freedom Trail, the Independence Trail is a loop. You can start at any location and finish where you began. The trail is also marked with site numbers. At each site number you can use your phone to call the number given for a description of the site. This morning I started along South Main Street at the Cable Car Cinema. (Currently, meter street parking is free on Sundays.) I started my walk heading north along South Main Street going through an area of spires and steeples. I passed the Old Stone Bank building with its gold dome as well as the Supreme Court Building, both on the right, and Memorial Park on the left with its host of war memorials. Continuing north I soon passed the Old Market House. Providence had its own tea party in rebellion of British taxes. A plaque here explains it. Continuing north, (this is where South Main Street becomes North Main) I passed the Rhode Island School of Design Museum before coming to the locally famous bus tunnel. Next I came to the First Baptist Church. The church was founded by Roger Williams (the founder of Rhode Island) in 1638. A little further up the road I turned right and uphill on Meeting Street. I first came across a single room brick schoolhouse the was once used by Brown University. At the intersection of Benefit and Meeting Streets is the Old Armory. At this location my College Hill walk intersects this walk. I then turned left onto Benefit Street before turning left and downhill on North Court Street passing the Old Rhode Island State House. In this building on May 4, 1776, Rhode Island declared its independence from the British. Rhode Island was the first colony to do so, a full 2 months before the Declaration of Independence. After going to the bottom of the hill I crossed North Main Street and followed the sidewalk north along the Roger Williams National Memorial. This is the site of the spring in which Providence was settled and grew around. I then turned left onto Smith Street crossing Canal Street and the Moshassuck River before making my way to the State House. (Note: the green line is not present on State House property. To continue the trail, walk towards the State House and follow it around the left side balcony to the stairs in front and down the main walkway to Francis Street.) The State House is a massive marble building built at the turn of the last century. It has one of the worlds largest unsupported domes. If it is open, it is well worth going in to take a peek at it from inside. Atop the dome is the Independent Man. This statue overlooks Providence. Making my way down Francis Street heading toward downtown I passed the Providence Place Mall. Some of the cities newer building are to the left surrounding the basin of Waterplace Park and the Woonasquatucket River. Following the green line into downtown, I soon passed the Biltmore Hotel, Providence City Hall, and made my way into Kennedy Plaza. The green line took me by the ice skating rink, BurnsidePark, and the Federal Court House as well. At the Federal Court House there is a plaque commemorating that Abraham Lincoln had once spoke here at the Railroad Hall. From here I followed the trail down Exchange Street into the heart of the Financial District. Here I was surrounded by some of the cities tallest buildings including the famed Turks Head Building. I then made my way up Westminster Street to Dorrance Street passing the Industrial National Trust Building and The Arcade (the worlds oldest indoor shopping mall). Turning left at Dorrance I passed a plaque of the Federal Reserve building that shows the height of the flood waters from the 1938 Hurricane. I then turned left onto Weybosset Street back toward the Financial District passing The Arcade again. I then followed the trail right after The Custom House Tavern to the Crawford Street Bridge. At this location my Waterplace Park walk intersects this walk. I then followed the trail along the Providence River for a bit before heading up Planet Street and back to the car. This walk not only showcases the vast history of Providence and Rhode Island, but it is a walk through some of the most elaborate architecture in the nation, both in style and age. This walk also brings you by some of the interesting art work and sculptures in the city. I would suggest taking your time on this walk as there is so much to see.
Trail map can be found at: Independence Trail.