Flashback: Rhode Island Monthly Through the 80s

How very fitting that in 1980, alongside bustling Route I-95, Rhode Island’s most famous resident — the Big Blue Bug — was introduced, kicking off the ’80s in style. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were smashing box office records, Madonna ruled the airwaves and Atari and Nintendo invaded living rooms everywhere with games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. Patrick J. Kennedy became the youngest Kennedy to ever hold public office when he won a seat in the Rhode Island House in 1988, representing District 9 in Providence while still a student at Providence College. As the decade came to a close, work began in earnest on uncovering Providence’s waterways and a little-known artist named Barnaby Evans made our list of pacesetters to watch in the ’90s. Little did we know that in just a few short years he’d set the capital city ablaze. 


May 1988

MAY 1988 cover.

May 1988: Our First Issue!

Rhode Island’s six o’clock television news anchors graced our first cover. From left, Doug White, Ann Conway, Walter Cryan, Cathy Ray, Janice Glynn and Dave Layman.


10 Cover Adrian Hall Oct 88

October 1988 cover.

October 1988: 
Adrian Hall, the founding artistic director of Trinity Repertory Company, led the theater from 1963 to 1989 before departing for the Dallas Theater Center. Providence honored him by naming an adjacent street Adrian Hall Way.  


12 88 Geoffs Benefit St

December 1988: Geoff’s on Benefit Street, Providence

Who can forget the original Geoff’s on Benefit Street, with its abysmal service, delicious and cleverly named sammies and enormous pickle barrel? You can still order a Phillipe and Jorge (hot spinach, melted cheese, mushrooms, tomato, onion, pepperoncini and sprouts) or a “Slim” Jim O’Neil (lettuce, tomato, onion, sprouts and horseradish) at its location at 401 S. Main St. in Providence.


Jan 1989

January 1989:
Local celebrities (and columnists for the Providence Phoenix) Phillipe and Jorge judged our first-ever R.I. Red Awards.


3 89 Don Bousquet Cartoon

March 1989: 

Iconic cartoonist Don Bousquet made many Rhody-centric cartoons for us back in the day. These driving tips still hold up, thirty-four years later.


4 89 Radio Folks

April 1989: 

We profiled some of the people behind the radio mics, including the beloved Salty Brine (No school Foster-Glocester!), Buddy Cianci and Carolyn Fox.


9 89 Best Worst Ofri

September 1989:
Our first-ever “The Best and Worst of Rhode Island.” Thankfully, we changed it to “Best of Rhode Island” in 1993 and never looked back. 


11 89 Patrickkennedypic

November 1989: 

Patrick Kennedy began his first term as a state representative while still a student at Providence College.


November 1989: “Best Friends”

Carolyn Fox! Buddy Cianci! Mark Patinkin! How did we manage to fit so many icons into one pet package?


12 89 Womeningov

December 1989: RI Women in Government

We’ve come a long way, baby! Thankfully, since then we’ve had our first female governor in Gina Raimondo, with seventeen female legislators (out of thirty-eight) now serving in the Rhode Island Senate, and thirty-four (of seventy-five) in the House of Representatives.


12 89 Pacesetters Evans

December 1989: 

We had the foresight to deem WaterFire creator Barnaby Evans a pacesetter to watch in the ’90s.



Rhode Island Monthly Through the 90s

Rhode Island Monthly Through the Aughts

Rhode Island Monthly Through the 2010s

Rhode Island Monthly Through the 2020s (So Far)