Skip to Navigation

Beyond the Gates

admitted students home

An Introduction to Rhode Island

Facts About Rhode Island
Founded: 1636
Roger Williams
Declared Independence from Great Britain:
May 4, 1776
Miles of coastline:
State bird:
Rhode Island Red (chicken)
State tree:
State flower:
State mineral:
Bowenite (similar to jade)
State stone:
Cumberlandite (found only in RI)
U.S. Senators:
Sheldon Whitehouse, Jack Reed
U.S. Representatives:
David Cicilline ʼ83, James R. Langevin
Daniel McKee
Mayor of Providence:
Jorge Elorza

Rhode Island was the first of the thirteen colonies to declare independence from England and has historically fostered a strong spirit of independence among its citizenry – the majestic State House is topped with a statue of “the Independent Man.” 

Brown’s medical school, founded in 1975 and renamed the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, helps attract world-class doctors and significant federal research dollars to Rhode Island. Brown, the third largest employer in the Providence area, also helps to develop new businesses through various partnerships with the state.

Brown also works closely with leaders of Providence’s public education system and human service agencies to leverage the resources of the University’s centers and programs in support of our city’s citizens. The Annenberg Institute for School Reform and the Education Alliance are among the many Brown-affiliated organizations that offer assistance and resources to public schools.  

Providence and Beyond

Even the most involved, excited, and intellectually intrigued students often need to leave the confines of the campus. A place to wander for a sunny afternoon, a private spot to picnic, and a campsite for a long weekend are resources not usually mentioned by academic advisors and course guides. Don’t worry, Rhode Island is perfect for students who need a break and for people who like to explore on their own.

You may wish to explore many of the historic sites and national parks of the region. A favorite Saturday getaway is Newport, Rhode Island, with its waterfront nightlife and its many restored historic mansions. Block Island, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island are perfect weekend retreats. Boston, only 50 minutes away, has something for everyone: the Faneuil Hall Marketplace area, the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Museum of Science, the traditional history of the Freedom Trail, and Symphony Hall. Nature lovers and skiers will head for Vermont and New Hampshire for the foliage, the snow, the maple syrup, even the apple-picking.

Providence Monthly carries listings of local music, art and dramatic performances, as well as articles of general interest. The Providence Journal, also has extensive entertainment listings. Rhode Island Monthly magazine is also a good bet. If you are wondering about a specific event, check the Rhode Island Tourism Division website or GoProvidence.

Thayer Street and Beyond

Brown is nestled in the midst of some interesting neighborhoods. College Hill, located on the East Side of Providence, is known for its large, historic homes and pretty residential streets. It’s a great place to bicycle, jog, or just take a walk. Blackstone Boulevard, about a mile east of the campus, is a wonderful place to run (1.7 miles one way); a packed soil walking and jogging path runs the length of the street on the landscaped center median.

Fox Point, south of the campus, has a strong Portuguese identity and character. The Wickenden Street area, rapidly moving upscale, is the heart of this community and offers a variety of stores in which you can buy fresh Portuguese sweet bread, antiques, coffee, and hardware supplies – or eat at an eclectic assortment of eateries.

Outdoor Recreation

Rhode Island offers 100 miles of sandy beaches along 400 miles of coastline, world-class tourist attractions and historical sites such as the seaside city of Newport, and breathtaking scenery. Bike paths, kayaking, numerous nature preserves, several state parks, and even a downhill ski resort – Yawgoo Valley – provide something for almost everyone who wants to get outside and enjoy the New England landscape.Visit the Rhode Island tourism website for other specific attractions.


BankRI has a branch office near Eastside Marketplace, about a half-mile east of campus.

Chase Bank
There is a branch location located at 234 Thayer Street.

Citizens Bank
There is a branch located at the corner of Brook and Waterman streets, just east of the main campus. They offer two ATMs at this location.

Bank of America
The nearest branch is located at 457 Angell Street, about a half-mile east of campus. There is an ATM located in the Campus Center and in the entryway to Brown Bookstore Café at 164 Angell Street.

Santander Bank
There is a branch in close proximity to the main campus at 212 Thayer Street, with an ATM outside the building offering 24-hour access. There is also an ATM located in the Campus Center.

Please note, some bank locations may not be open during the COVID-19 global pandemic, please call ahead of visititng in person.


Thayer Street, the East Side’s “Main Street,” runs through the middle of campus. Lining the street and those nearby is a variety of small shops, restaurants, and banks. Wayland Square is about a half-mile east on Waterman Street and contains small specialty stores and cafés. Wickenden Street, just to the south of campus, offers an eclectic blend of funky, old-fashioned, and upscale shops and coffee bars, as well as a full-service hardware store. North Main Street, at the foot of the Hill, stretches north to Pawtucket. South Main Street, which becomes North Main, has boutique stores and restaurants.

The Providence Place Mall is one place to shop downtown. It features 150 department and specialty stores, a variety of restaurants, a multiplex cinema, and an IMAX theater. The other large malls are located in Cranston and Warwick, Rhode Island, only 15-20 minutes southwest of the Brown campus off of I-95.

Grocery Stores

Whole Foods
Two locations:
1) About a mile east of campus on Waterman Street.
2) North of College Hill on North Main Street. The stores feature natural and whole foods, quality seafood and meats, organic fruits and vegetables, vitamins and natural supplements, an extensive takeout selection, and hearty breads.

Eastside Marketplace
Head east on Waterman Street from anywhere on the Brown campus, and then make a right onto Butler Avenue just past Whole Foods. The parking lot will be straight ahead. On Wednesdays a Brown Card gets you 5% off your total order. In the same shopping complex are a Rite Aid drugstore and a dry-cleaner.

Stop & Shop
Go north on North Main Street, turn left at the Branch Avenue intersection, cross over the freeway, and it will be on your left. It’s got everything, with a special emphasis on ethnic foods serving the local Portuguese, Latino, African, and Asian populations. 

How to Get Around

A car is useful, but not necessary. Brown’s campus is small, and Providence has a fairly extensive public transportation system. If you don’t have a car, take a look at the following:

Rhode Island Public Transit Authority
RIPTA operates buses throughout the state and in Providence; service is dependable and all Brown students ride free. Check schedules at

Interstate Buses
Peter Pan and Greyhound have a shuttle service from Kennedy Plaza downtown to the main terminal at exit 25 off I-95 North; buses run regularly to most points out of state.

Rail service to and from Boston and New York (as well as points in between) runs through the Amtrak station next to the State House. The MBTA also offers commuter rail service from Providence to both T.F. Green Airport and into Boston.

Zipcar is an internet-based service that allows you to rent a car for an hour or two or for an entire day. Vehicles are parked on campus and there is an online registration system, insurance coverage and gasoline. See