Once nicknamed the "Beehive of Industry", Providence began rebranding itself as the "Creative Capital" in 2009 to emphasize its educational resources and arts community. Its previous moniker was "The Renaissance City", though its 2000 poverty rate was still among the ten highest for cities over 100,000.
Following the war, Providence was the country's ninth-largest city. with 7,614 people. The economy shifted from maritime endeavors to manufacturing, particularly machinery, tools, silverware, jewelry and textiles. By the turn of the twentieth century, Providence boasted some of the largest manufacturing plants in the country, including Brown & Sharpe, Nicholson File, and Gorham Silverware. The city's industries attracted many immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, England, Italy, Portugal, Cape Verde, and French Canada. Economic and demographic shifts caused social strife, notably with a series of race riots between whites and blacks during the 1820s. In response to these troubles and the economic growth, Providence residents ratified a city charter in 1831 as the population passed 17,000.
African Americans constitute approximately 17% of the city with the largest percentages in Mount Hope and Upper and Lower South Providence neighborhoods. Asians are 6% of Providence's population and have enclaves scattered throughout the city. Another 6% of the city has multiracial ancestry. Native Americans and Pacific Islanders make up the remaining 1.3%.With Liberians comprising 0.4% of the population, the city is home to the one of the three largest Liberian immigrant populations in the country. Hispanics represent over 36% of Providence's population.
The per capita income, as of the 2000 census, was $15,525, which is well below both the state average of $29,113, and the national average of $21,587. The median income for a household was $26,867, and the median income for a family in Providence was $32,058, according to the 2000 census. The city has one of the highest rates of poverty in the nation with 29.1% of the population and 23.9% of families living below the poverty line in 2000, the largest concentrations being found in the city's Olneyville, and Upper and Lower South Providence areas. Poverty has affected children at a disproportionately higher rate with 40.1% of those under the age of 18 living below the poverty line, concentrated particularly west of downtown in the neighborhoods of Hartford, Federal Hill, and Olneyville.
Providence was one of the first cities to industrialize in the United States. By 1830, the city had manufacturing industries in metals, machinery, textiles, jewelry, and silverware. Though manufacturing has declined, the city is still one of the largest centers for jewelry and silverware design and manufacturing. Services, particularly education, health care, and finance, also make up a large portion of the city's economy. Providence also is the site of a sectional center facility, a regional hub for the U.S. Postal Service. Since it is the capital of Rhode Island, Providence's economy additionally consists of government services.
The city is also the home of the Tony Award-winning theater group Trinity Repertory Company, the Providence Black Repertory Company, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Providence is also the home of several performing arts centers such as the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the Providence Performing Arts Center, and the Providence Festival Ballet. The city's underground music scene, centered around artist-run spaces such as the now-defunct Fort Thunder, is known in underground music circles.
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Providence's climate is between humid continental climate and humid subtropical climate, with warm summers, cold winters, and high humidity year-round. The USDA rates the city at Zone 6a, which is an "in-between" climate. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean keeps Providence, and the rest of the state of Rhode Island, warmer than many inland locales in New England.