Providence City Hall
Similar to other cities, Providence nearly approved a measure to demolish this building in favor of a modern structure that might be less expensive to maintain.
This photo of Providence's City Hall was taken in the late 19th century.
Providence suffered a major hurricane in 1938 that resulted in the flooding of the downtown area. The waterline is appears halfway up the first story in this old photo.
President Woodrow Wilson delivers a speech on June 3, 1916. America was officially neutral in World War I, but the President's speech called for preparedness.
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.