Great time in this small city and a successful completion of the lower 48 states for me! We consumed the city in an atypical way guided by the podcast, Crimetown, about all of the real-life Godfather characters who made their names there, and Family Guy, a semi-mindless cartoon TV show set in Quahog, RI, a fictitious town modelled after Providence.
First stop was the Pawtucket Brewery where the main character in Family Guy works. There is a town named Pawtucket right outside of Providence and there are breweries there but no Pawtucket Brewery as in the show, and the breweries weren’t too keen on relating themselves to the show… We picked a good one called Foolproof Brewing in an industrial area and since we’d brought the first sun of the season up with us from the south, there were many people out on the picnic tables. The one poor lady running the bar was bouncing around trying to keep glasses full. Luckily when you feed people beers, they tend to not mind or notice. Once things settled down a bit, we got to chat with the bartender who strongly discouraged us from considering Providence as a place to relocate to due to the high cost of living and rough winters. We saw a golden day of weather in the city but everyone’s excitement over the sunshine was palpable. You could also contribute some of her tone to me admitting the shallow reason for coming to her brewery. Altogether, we had some solid beers here and then moseyed on to see the mafia sights of the city.
We mined all the interesting mafia sights of the city that hadn’t been demolished and bounced around to each as odd tourists taking pictures of abandoned buildings. I had a grand ol time with my favorite spot being the Hudson Furs building where the “Bonded Vault” heist took place. This large warehouse was where the most powerful New England mafia family kept their loot – jewels, gold bars, cash, etc. Estimates put the robbery at about $32 million, making it a top robbery in the US. Since most of the items stored there were off the books, it’s tough to get a good estimate for the actual value of goods that were stolen. The building hasn’t changed their sign since the robbery and still operates but is a patchwork of graffiti in a rather rough part of town. The company’s fancy website belies the state of the building and the slight to their security.
The next neat spot was Buddy Cianci’s old mansion. This building is right on the edge of RISD’s campus (Rhode Island School of Design), where aspiring skate boarders troll the traffic while other students snap pictures of the mayhem while trying to catch the right afternoon light. The 80s and 90s had a bit more mayhem than this scene as the then mayor of Providence, Buddy Cianci, bounced in and out of office and prison. The city has a love-hate relationship with this man. He brought the city a lot of notoriety and was able to help a lot of people but then on the other hand beat someone with a fireplace log and was later convicted and sent to prison for racketeering. After his prison sentence, he even ran for mayor again in 2014! He may have been one of the last relics of the good ol mafia days of Providence. All in all, Rhode Island is worth a look for tourists in the northeast!
My wife and I quit our jobs, sold our belongings and are hitting the road for nearly 2 years. We're blogging about our adventures, lessons learned, ideas, and recommendations. Take a gander at the content, leave a comment, or reach out to us to meet up on the road!