Market Square, Providence, Rhode Island

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Providence's Market Square in 1844.

Market Square is a market square in Providence, Rhode Island. It is located at the intersection of present-day North Main Street and College Street. Market Square has been a longtime focal point in Providence for news, shopping, and gossip.[1]


In the 17th century the land comprising modern day Market Square was originally owned by Chad Brown, progenitor of the Brown family, later affiliated with Brown University.[citation needed]

During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, several newspapers were published at Market Square, including Honest John Miller's publication Manufacturers and Farmers Journal and Providence and Pawtucket Advertiser which would later become The Providence Journal.[2]

In June 1843, President John Tyler toured New England while considering a potential third-party bid for re-election.[3] One of Tyler's several Providence stops was at Market Square.[3] The president enjoyed a meal at the Franklin House, an inn across from the Market House.[3]

Civil War era[edit]

During the Civil War, Market Square was the site of several public "war meetings" presided by mayor Jabez C. Knight.[4][5][6] During these meetings, public officials and dignitaries made public announcements and attempted to build up enlistment and support for the Union side during the war.[4][5][6]

One such meeting was held in August 1862 to announce the Militia Act of 1862,[5] which gave the state authority to draft.[7] The act also allowed African-Americans to participate in the war as soldiers and war laborers.[8] The announcement was received with "loud cheers."[5] Governor William Sprague IV called for "colored citizens" to form a regiment, and promised to personally accompany this regiment into battle.[5] In July 1863, after the Enrollment Act established a national draft, a blindfolded official selected names of conscripted men from a wheel in Market Square.[6]

Electric lights[edit]

In 1882 the first electric arc lights in Providence were installed by the Rhode Island Electric Lighting Company on Market Square and Westminster Street.[9]

Emma Goldman[edit]

On September 7[10] (or September 8[11]), 1897, the anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman was arrested for "unlawful open air speaking" and "attracting a crowd"[1] when she attempted to speak in at Market Square, during a four-month lecture tour. The mayor of Providence had warned Goldman that she would be arrested if she spoke in Providence.[11] She had been traveling to lecture on topics such as "Why I am an Anarchist-Communist," "Woman", "Marriage", the recent assassination of the Spanish Premier, and a speech "Berkman's Unjust Sentence," about Alexander Berkman's imprisonment for the murder of Henry Clay Frick.[10] After jailing Goldman overnight, the Providence authorities ordered her to leave town within 24 hours, or else face three months imprisonment.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b "Market House and the Market Square". GoProvidence. Providence Warwick Convention & Visitor Bureau. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  2. ^ Smith, H.P. (1902). ""The Printer and the Press"". State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century Vol II. The Mason Publishing Company. pp. 563–611. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Six New England Presidential Visits and the Stories Behind Them". New England Historical Society. New England Historical Society. Retrieved 23 February 2017. Tyler traveled ... to Market Square, where he ate at the Franklin House, an inn that used to stand across from the Market House.
  4. ^ a b "RHODE ISLAND MOVING.; TRIBUTE TO THE DEAD SOLDIERS, ETC". The New York Times. 24 July 1861. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e "WAR MEETING IN PROVIDENCE, R.I.; A REGIMENT OF COLORED MEN TO BE COMMANDED BY GOV. SPRAGUE". New York Times. 5 August 1862. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "The Draft Commenced in Rhode Island". The New York Times. 10 July 1863. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  7. ^ "The Draft in the Civil War". United States History. Online Highways LLC. Retrieved 6 July 2016. The Militia Act of 1862 gave the President authority to draft 300,000 militiamen for up to nine months. It was to be a state run affair ...
  8. ^ "Militia Act Law & Legal Definition". US Legal. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  9. ^ Cady, John Hutchins (October 1952). "The Providence Market House" (PDF). Rhode Island History. Rhode Island Historical Society. 11 (4): 111. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  10. ^ a b c "Emma Goldman: She Fought the Law". American Experience. PBS.
  11. ^ a b c "Chronology" (PDF). p. 502. Retrieved 6 July 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°49′34″N 71°24′30″W / 41.8261°N 71.4082°W / 41.8261; -71.4082