Woonsocket in Providence County, Rhode Island — The American Northeast (New England)
How the City Grew
Why is the City of Woonsocket here? And how did Market Square become its first center? The answers to those questions lie in the forces that shaped Woonsocket's earliest days water, land and money. From here you can hear the roar of nearby Woonsocket Falls as it drops over 31 feet, providing the natural force necessary to turn the waterwheels that powered the mills here. This massive power source served as the hub for the city that grew around it. The area was not heavily settled until the establishment of the Social Manufacturing Company on the nearby Mill River in 1810, but by 1842 more than 20 textile and related mills operated in the area near Market Square alone. These mills attracted investment capital- as well as workers and soon the square was crowded with businesses. Market Square remained a thriving commercial, manufacturing and transportation center of the city throughout the 1800s until the decline of the textile industry imposed new economic realities.
Today, Market Square is undergoing a careful renaissance intended to refocus attention and investment on this area. Businesses and visitors
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Water powered mills were the largest employer in Woonsocket for more than a century, attracting many workers to the region.
The falls helped define the city of Woonsocket. The name Woonsocket is of Native American origin According to legend "Woone" "Suckete" meant mist or it was used to describe the falls. It is more likely the name comes from the Woonsocket Hill and is translated as "the place of the steep hill.
Woonsocket served as a key stopping point on the Blackstone Canal (opened in 1828), which stretched 45 miles between Providence, RI and Worcester, MA. Built by hand by thousands of workers, the canal helped open the area to new commerce. But it was soon eclipsed by the railroads. The Blackstone Canal ceased operation in 1848, soon after the opening of the Providence and Worcester Railroad.
In background City of Woonsocket Seal. Photos above courtesy of the Woonsocket Harris Library Local History Slide Collection
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1810.
Location. 41° 59.969′ N, 71° 31.022′ W. Marker is in Woonsocket, Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Woonsocket RI 02895, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Blackstone River Valley (here, next to this marker); Ethnicity (here, next to this marker); Woonsocket Falls (within shouting distance of this marker); Blackstone Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); Market Square (within shouting distance of this marker); Power Trenches (within shouting distance of this marker); Cross of Malta (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Veterans Memorial Park (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Woonsocket.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 1, 2022. It was originally submitted on May 1, 2022, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 56 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on May 1, 2022, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.