The smallest state in the Union, which it formerly made up for with its long official name.
Rhode Island, one of The Thirteen American Colonies, is a state in New England in the United States. It is most famous for being the smallest state by area, at only 1,214 square miles — just over half the size of second smallest state Delaware (1,982 square miles) — however, with just a hair under 1.1 million residents (as of the 2020 Census), it ranks 44th out of 50 in population and is also the second most densely populated (after New Jersey)note . Its small size makes it a convenient measuring tool for area comparisons in the US — "the wildfires burned an area three times the size of Rhode Island!" Despite the name, most of the state's territory and population are in fact on the mainland, and the origin of the name "Rhode Island" is a matter of some dispute.
Rhode Island's geography is dominated by Narragansett Bay in the middle of the state. The southern portion is mostly comprised of a chain of islands inside the bay. The largest of these is Rhode Island, which is home to Newport and is the namesake of the state. It's better known by locals as Aquidneck Island, its original Native American name, in order to distinguish it from the state. While the state is only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long, its shoreline is 384 miles in length, hence its nickname of "the Ocean State."
Founded in 1630 by Roger Williams, a religious exile from Puritan Massachusetts, on land purchased from the Narragansett ruler Canonicus, the colony was a haven in New England for those dissatisfied with Puritan orthodoxy, or who had simply run afoul of its strict rules. Its original (and, until 2020, official) name was "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" ("plantations" meaning "colonies" or "settlements" in the parlance of the day). Newport and Providence, its largest cities, became prosperous population centers in the largely-rural British America, and in 1764, Brown University, still a highly prestigious Ivy League university to this day, was founded in Providence. On May 4, 1776, three months before the American Declaration of Independence was published, Rhode Island was the first colony to declare independence from the British Empire, and the state was home to several prominent figures of the Revolutionary Period, most notably Stephen Hopkins.
On the other hand, the state boycotted the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and was the last state to ratify the Constitution a full three years after it had been adopted. Its small size and population led it to heavily favor the looser Articles of Confederation, which made the states more autonomous and provided for equal voices to all states regardless of population size, at the cost of any functional government for the US as a whole.
Historically, Rhode Island was known for its textile, jewelry, silverware, commercial fishing, and toy industries. Slater Mill in Pawtucket was established in 1793 as the first water-powered cotton spinning mill in the country, a development considered to be the start of the Industrial Revolution, and the building became the very first entry on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Apart from fishing and toys - Hasbro was founded in Providence in 1923 and is still headquartered in nearby Pawtucket - most of those industries have long since left Rhode Island. The state's main industry nowadays is tourism, particularly in Newport, a port city with a long history and considerable significance in the The American Revolution and The Gilded Age in particular.
Rhode Island today has a population of around 1.1 million people, packed into only 1,200 square miles. Its capital and largest city is Providence, whose metro area covers most of the state and parts of Bristol County, Massachusetts; The metro area for the city is often combined with those of the nearby Massachusetts cities of Fall River and New Bedford, and the three cities share a media market. Rhode Island, along with Connecticut, has no county governments, with the counties mainly existing as geographical subdivisions for the sheriffs (which are part of the state government) and decentralized courts located throughout the state, and the state uses the local, autonomous "town meeting" system. Despite its small size, Providence is home to five prominent universities: Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island College, and Providence College. Satellite campuses for the Community College of Rhode Island (main campus in Warwick) and the University of Rhode Island (main campus in Kingston) are also in the city.
Like much of New England, it has a strong maritime tradition, and seafood like clams and lobster features prominently in local cuisine. Culturally, it's most famous as the home of the aforementioned Brown University, which is regarded as selective and prestigious even among the already-selective-and-prestigious Ivy League universities. In politics, it's one of the most resolute strongholds of the Democratic Party, having voted for Democratic candidates in every presidential election since 1988, and by a margin of at least 20 points since 1992. Rhode Island is "bluer" (i.e., more pro-Democratic party) even than the rest of solidly blue New England; many other New England states like Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire have strong local Republican parties, even as they favor the Democrats in national politics, and often vote for Republican governors. Rhode Island hasn't had a Republican governor in a decade.
In the 1990s, Providence's "Fort Thunder" art and music scene was nationally renowned for spawning several well-known Noise Rock bands, the most famous of which are Black Dice and Lightning Bolt. It's also the home of the Newport Folk (famous for being the site of Bob Dylan 'going electric' in 1965) and Jazz Festivals in Newport every summer.
To gamers, Rhode Island is known for being at the center of the scandal involving the collapse of 38 Studios, the game developer headed up by former Red Sox star Curt Schilling, which had received a $75-million loan from the state. Following 38 Studios' bankruptcy, the state of Rhode Island owned the rights to all of the studio's assets, including their sole release, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The state eventually sold those rights to THQ Nordic.
Media Set in Rhode Island
- Another Period: Takes place largely in Newport.
- Canterburys Law
- City of Heroes, which takes place in the fictional Paragon City.
- The Conjuring: Based on a real haunted house case in the Burrillville village of Harrisville.
- Dan in Real Life
- Die You Zombie Bastards!
- Doctor Doctor
- Dumb and Dumber
- Eternal Darkness
- Family Guy: Inspired in part by Seth MacFarlaneís time at RISD, it takes place in the fictional city of Quahog.
- The Gilded Age: Both filmed and set in Newport.
- Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: Set in Newport, but mostly filmed elsewhere apart from B-Roll.
- High Society
- Jazz on a Summer's Day: Filmed at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
- Lemonade Mouth
- Lights Are Off But Everyone's Home
- Me, Myself & Irene
- Providence (comic)
- Providence (TV series)
- Reversal of Fortune: Based on an infamous Real Life trial in Newport.
- There's Something About Mary
- Wallace The Brave
- The Witches of Eastwick: Fictional town in the title is meant to be in the Newport area.
- The X-Files: Sometimes. Fox Mulderís family had a summer home in Westerly, and in the episode "Demons" he suffers memory loss in Providence.
- Yankee Doodle Dandy: Based on the life of Providence native George M. Cohan, all scenes set in the city were filmed elsehwere.
Despite its resemblance, the Industrial Trust building, Providence's tallest skyscraper, is not the basis of the Daily Planet building in the Superman franchise or the The Adventures of Superman show. Even so, the building is widely known as the "Superman building" anyway.
Filmed in Rhode IslandRhode Island has a lucrative tax incentive for film and television productions, and as a result it's one of the most popular filming locations in all of New England, often California Doubling for the rest of the region. Among the productions filmed in Rhode Island, but not explicitly set in it, include:
- 27 Dresses: Filmed in Newport, Charlestown, East Greenwich, and Providence.
- American Buffalo: The film of the play was shot entirely in director Michael Corrente's hometown of Pawtucket.
- Amistad: Filmed mostly in Newport, but Providence, Bristol, and Jamestown were used for certain scenes.
- The Great Gatsby (1974): Filmed in Newport.
- Hocus Pocus 2: Filmed in Newport, Lincoln, and Providence.
- Lolita: Stanley Kubrick's 1962 film was partly filmed in Newport and Westerly.
- Meet Joe Black: Partly filmed in Warwick.
- Moonrise Kingdom: Filmed in Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth, Jamestown, and Hopkinton. The titular beach is located in Jamestown.
- Mystic Pizza: Some scenes filmed in the Watch Hill neighborhood of Westerly
- The Polka King: Filmed in Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and Cranston.
- The Purge: Election Year: Filmed mostly in Providence and Woonsocket.
- True Lies: Filmed in Newport
- Underdog: Filmed in Providence.
Creators from Rhode Island
- Gary Albright
- Harry Anderson
- Ruth Buzzi
- Wendy Carlos
- The Cowsills
- Viola Davis: Born in South Carolina, raised in Central Falls.
- Charlie Day: Born in New York City, raised in Middletown.
- Spike Dudley
- Peter Gerety
- Ruth Hussey
- Richard Jenkins: Originally from DeKalb, Illinois, relocated to Providence.
- Les Savy Fav
- Lightning Bolt
- H. P. Lovecraft
- Ron McLarty
- Debra Messing: Born in New York City, raised in East Greenwich.
- Michaela McManus
- Arden Myrin
- Jeffrey Osborne
- Anthony Quinn: Born in Mexico, but retired to and spent his final years in Bristol.
- Kali Rocha: Born in Memphis, raised here.
- Charles Rocket
- Milo Rossi
- Christopher Stanley
- Talking Heads - Kind of; Three of the four members met at RISD, but they didn't form the Talking Heads until they moved to New York City. Rhode Islanders sometimes claim the band as their own, though.
- Throwing Muses
- Mena Suvari
- Meredith Vieira
- James Woods: Born in Utah but raised in Warwick.
- Otis Young