35 Years of Rhode Island History

Providence Place Mall

Postcard courtesy of Providence Public Library digital collections.

1988: Workers begin to uncover the Moshassuck and Woonasquatucket rivers in downtown Providence.

1991: New governor Bruce Sundlun closes forty-five credit unions after
the Rhode Island Share and Deposit Indemnity Corp. collapses.

1992: The new Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge opens after seven years of construction. 

1993: Car insurance finally becomes mandatory in Rhode Island. 

1994: After 120 years, the last Navy ship leaves Newport Harbor.

1995: Almacs, the state’s last locally owned grocery chain, files for bankruptcy for the second time. 

1996: Rocky Point Amusement Park’s assets are auctioned off. 

1996: T.F. Green Airport opens a $209 million terminal.

1997: Ground is broken for Providence Place mall (below).

2000: Brown University’s Ruth Simmons becomes the Ivy League’s first Black president. 

2002: Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci is convicted on a single count of federal racketeering conspiracy. 

2003: A fire at the Station nightclub kills 100 people and injures 230.

2003: A clash ensues when state police close down the Narragansett Tribe’s smoke shop.

2006: A Rhode Island jury finds paint companies liable for creating a public nuisance by selling lead-based paints. 

2007: The Masonic Temple opens as the Renaissance Providence Hotel (above) after lying unfinished and abandoned for eighty-one years. 

2010: Historic floods cause major destruction, leaving Warwick Mall underwater.

2012: Curt Schilling’s company, 38 Studios, goes bankrupt. 

2013: Rhode Island becomes the tenth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

2013: Twin River Casino rolls out table games after voters approve local and statewide referendums.

2015: Gina Raimondo is elected the state’s first female governor.

2016: Buddy Cianci dies at the age of seventy-four.

2016: The Block Island Wind Farm becomes the first commercial offshore wind farm in the United States.

2017: Viola Davis, who grew up in Central Falls, wins an Oscar for her role in Fences.

2020: Rhode Islanders vote to remove “and Providence Plantations” from the state’s name.

2021: Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee becomes governor after Gina Raimondo is confirmed as secretary of commerce.

2022: The state legalizes the sale of recreational marijuana. Recreational sales begin at five marijuana compassion centers throughout the state.

2023: The Providence Civic Center/Amica Mutual Pavilion turns fifty.