Established in 1862, East Providence is part of the larger Providence metropolitan area. The history of the region is closely tied to the waterfront, as the local economy relied heavily on fishing, oyster farming and the harbor for trade.
Industrialization transformed the waterfront as early as the 1870s, when East Providence was one of the first cities to industrialize in the U.S. The city experienced another wave of industrialization in the 1920s and 1930s, as it became a regional distribution hub for raw materials.
After the rapid decline of industry in the 1950s, East Providence’s population continued to grow, signifying the vitality of the city’s economy. Since the 1950s, the city’s labor force has seen a pronounced shift from blue to white collar occupations, with income levels today marginally below the regional average. Although East Providence’s population has slightly decreased from its peak in the 1980s of 50,000 to 47,337 today, the rest of the region is seeing a modest population growth.
The southern area of the East Providence harbor front, like the rest of the region, has transformed over time. Its shoreline has literally been shaped by the economic drivers of the day. Since 1865, 54 acres of fill have been added, elongating the shoreline with 0.8 miles. Today, 2.3 miles of shoreline and the total land area of 155 acres present transformative opportunities.