Providence City Hall
Constructed between 1875 and 1878, this Second Empire Baroque structure has been the only building dedicated entirely to holding the offices of Providence's municipal government, despite many other buildings and meetinghouses serving in this capacity from the colonial period to the late 19th century. For example, the mayor and Board of Alderman had offices above the spaces reserved for vendors in the old Market Square building from the 1830s until the completion of this building.
Backstory and Context
In the late 19th century, before the building was powered by electricity, residents came to tour the building largely to catch a glimpse-and a ride-one an elevator that was powered by water boilers and could carry as many as fifty passengers in a single trip. Others were amazed by the wide stairways made entirely from marble and the ornate cast-iron railings. The front of the building included a grand lobby, and the city's nearly three-story tall monument in honor of Civil War veterans from the state of Rhode Island. The building's enormous weight required the construction of a manufactured foundation supported by over three thousand pilings.
City Hall was also the center of many state and national political rallies throughout the 20th century. For example, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and John F. Kennedy have all given speeches from the steps of Providence's City Hall.