Visitors can’t help but notice the brightly painted green line throughout downtown, dotted with colorful emblems. Dubbed the Independence Trail, this 2.5-mile path was designed by Robert Burke, owner of Pot Au Feu restaurant on Custom House Street and founder of the nonprofit Independence Trail Education Foundation. Managed, promoted, and maintained by Burke’s foundation, the self-paced tour showcases 4 centuries of Providence history, architecture and culture, highlighting 133 notable sites altogether. It tells the story of Rhode Island from its founding by Roger Williams through the first shot in the Revolution, and points to places where Lincoln spoke and Washington slept.
The trail starts at the State House, continues across the river to Benefit Street and South Main, crosses the Crawford Street Bridge and zigzags throughout the Financial District. (Find a complete map here). Of course, since the tour is self-guided, you can start and end your walk at any points, and take as much time as you wish. Within the Downtown Improvement District (DID) boundaries, you’ll find a variety of highlights from the Arcade to the Spanish American War Memorial. You’ll learn about the city’s hurricane marks, the Turks Head building, Haven Bros. diner, Burnside Park, and so much more.
Each destination is labeled with an emblem showing a unique location number and general phone number: (401) 441-6401. When you call and listen to the welcome message, you’ll be prompted to enter your location number, and you’ll hear a short narrative about your current spot. As you continue along the trail, you simply repeat the same steps, entering new numbers. (To save time, you can skip the welcome message by pressing the star key). For photos, maps, and more information, visit independencetrails.com, or send an email.