Pawtucket is a city of 72,958, persons founded in 1671, at the strategic falls of the Blackstone River and the upper tidewaters of Narragansett Bay. It is a city with a special place in the industrial history of the United States. For it was here at the Slater Mill Historic Site that Samuel Slater successfully constructed and operated machines for spinning cotton yarn in 1793. Besides textiles, a variety of machines and iron working shops grew up alongside the textile industry. Walcott Brothers’ factory in 1855Pawtucket was the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Slater Mill, built in 1793 by Samuel Slater on the Blackstone River falls in downtown Pawtucket, was the first commercially successful cotton-spinning mill with a fully mechanized power system in America. He constructed and operated machines for producing yarn. Other manufacturers followed, transforming Pawtucket into a center for textiles, iron working and other products.
The textile business in New England would decline, particularly during the Great Depression, with many manufacturers closing or moving their facilities South where operations and labor were cheaper. But unlike numerous older mill towns in the region, Pawtucket retained much of its industrial base. Today, goods produced in the city include lace, non-woven and elastic woven materials, jewelry, silverware, metals and textiles. Hasbro, one of the world’s largest manufacturer of toys and games, is headquartered in Pawtucket.
Originally, there were two Pawtuckets. Pawtucket west of the Blackstone River used to be part of nearby North Providence. East of the Blackstone River was originally settled as part of the Massachusetts town of Rehoboth. Once East Pawtucket (another alternate name for the area of Pawtucket east of the Blackstone) was transferred to Rhode Island in the 1860s, both sections (West and East Pawtucket) merged. It was later incorporated as a city.