Woonsocket, Rhode Island

Woonsocket (/wʊnˈsɒkɪt, wən-/ wuun-SOK-it, wən-) is a city in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 41,186 at the 2010 census, making it the sixth largest city in the state. Woonsocket lies directly south of the Massachusetts state line and constitutes part of both the Providence metropolitan area and the larger Greater Boston Combined Statistical Area.

The city is the corporate headquarters of CVS Health, a pharmacy services provider. It is home to Landmark Medical Center, the Museum of Work and Culture, and the American-French Genealogical Society.[3]

City of Woonsocket
Downtown Woonsocket
Downtown Woonsocket
Official seal of City of Woonsocket

"A City on the Move"
Location in Providence County and the state of Rhode Island
Location in Providence County and the state of Rhode Island
Coordinates: 42°00′30″N 71°30′58″W / 42.00833°N 71.51611°WCoordinates: 42°00′30″N 71°30′58″W / 42.00833°N 71.51611°W
Country United States
State Rhode Island
Incorporated (town)1867
Incorporated (city)1888
 • TypeMayor-council
 • MayorLisa Baldelli-Hunt
 • Total20.62 km2 (7.96 sq mi)
 • Land20.0 km2 (7.7 sq mi)
 • Water0.6 km2 (0.2 sq mi)
56 m (184 ft)
 • Total41,186
 • Density2,059.3/km2 (5,348.8/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s)401
FIPS code44-80780[1]
GNIS feature ID1219339[2]


Before the arrival of European settlers in northern Rhode Island during the 17th century, today's Woonsocket region was inhabited by three Native American tribes—the Nipmucs (Cowesett), Wampanoags, and Narragansetts.[4] In 1661, the English theologian Roger Williams purchased the area from the "Coweset and Nipmucks", and in a letter referred to modern day Woonsocket as "Niswosakit".[5]

Other possible derivations to the name include several Nipmuc geographic names from nearby Massachusetts. These include Woonksechocksett, from Worcester County meaning "fox country", and Wannashowatuckqut, also from Worcester County, meaning "at the fork of the river".[6] Another theory states Woonsocket derives from "thunder mist", in reference to the largest waterfall on the Blackstone River, which lies at the center of the city. Yet another theory proposes that the city was named after Woonsocket Hill in neighboring North Smithfield.[7]

Woonsocket Falls Village was founded in the 1820s. Its fortunes expanded as the Industrial Revolution took root in nearby Pawtucket. With the Blackstone River providing ample water power, the region became a prime location for textile mills. In 1831 Edward Harris built his first textile mill in Woonsocket. Woonsocket as a town was not established until 1867 when three villages in the town of Cumberland, namely Woonsocket Falls, Social and Jenckesville, officially became the town of Woonsocket.

In 1871, three additional industrial villages[8] from Smithfield– Hamlet, Bernon, and Globe, were added to the town establishing its present boundaries. Woonsocket was incorporated as city in 1888.

With the growth of industries came a new influx of immigrants, predominantly Québecois and French-Canadians from other provinces. When the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste d'Holyoke organized a national cultural and benefit society in 1899, the Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d’Amérique, Woonsocket, with its proximity to several industrial areas having large French-Canadian demographics, was chosen for the organization's headquarters.[9] By 1913, a survey by the American Association of Foreign Language Newspapers found the city had to have the 6th largest population of French or French-Canadian foreign nationals in the country.[10] In the decades that followed this population grew, and by time the local textile industry shuttered during the Great Depression the demographic comprised 75 percent of the population. French-language newspapers were published and sold; radio programs, movies, even most public conversations were conducted in French.[11] As recently as 1980, 70% of Woonsocket's population was of French-Canadian descent, though the New England French they had once spoken had gradually declined and vanished from the public dialogue.[12]

Throughout the 20th century the city's fortunes ebbed and flowed with the national trends. During the Great Depression the textile economy of Woonsocket came to an effective standstill however it would revived during World War II, when the city became a major center of fabric manufacturing for the war effort. In the postwar years, the Woonsocket economy diversified as manufacturing declined and other commercial sectors like retail, technology and financial services took hold.[8] However, in the early 1980s Woonsocket was again plagued by high unemployment rates.[12]

Beginning in 1979, Woonsocket became home to Autumnfest, an annual cultural festival that takes place on Columbus Day Weekend, at World War II Veteran's Memorial State Park. It has become one of the city's most popular events.[13]

Woonsocket from the East

Woonsocket from the East, 1886 engraving

North Smithfield2

Woonsocket Medical Corporation, founded in 1839 by Dr. Seth Arnold

Post Office Square, Central Part of Woonsocket, Rhode Island

Woonsocket in 1855 (published in Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion

Downtown Woonsocket Rhode Island engraving

1886 engraving


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.0 square miles (21 km2), of which 7.7 square miles (20 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) (3.14%) is water. Woonsocket is drained by the Blackstone River. Adjacent communities include Blackstone and Bellingham, Massachusetts, along with Cumberland and North Smithfield, Rhode Island.


Woonsocket has a strong humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa) with four distinct seasons. Being influenced by both the sea and the interior during winter, diurnal temperature variation is high, with days most often being above freezing before severe frosts hit at night.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201641,406[16]0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[17]
Woonsocket RI City Hall
Woonsocket City Hall, built in 1856 as the Harris Institute by Edward Harris

At the 2010 census Woonsocket had a population of 41,186. The population was 71.3% non-Hispanic white, 14.2% Hispanic or Latino, 6.4% African American, 5.4% Asian, 0.4% Native American and 4.3% reporting two or more races.[18]

At the census[1] of 2000, there were 43,224 people, 17,750 households, and 10,774 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,608.8 people per square mile (2,164.6/km²). There were 18,757 housing units at an average density of 2,433.9 per square mile (939.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.14% White, 4.44% African American, 0.32% Native American, 4.06% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 4.86% from other races, and 3.14% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.32% of the population.

Woonsocket is a part of the Providence metropolitan area, which has an estimated population of 1,622,520.

There were 17,750 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.4% were married couples living together, 16.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.3% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,819, and the median income for a family was $38,353. Males had a median income of $31,465 versus $24,638 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,223. About 16.7% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.3% of those under age 18 and 14.7% of those age 65 or over. In March 2013, the Washington Post reported that one-third of Woonsocket’s population used food stamps, putting local merchants on a "boom or bust" cycle each month when EBT payments were deposited.[19]

At the 2000 census, 46.1% of Woonsocket’s population were identified as being of French or French-Canadian ethnic heritage. The city has referred to itself as La ville la plus française aux États-Unis, 'the most French city in the United States'.[20]

Historic places

Properties and districts in Woonsocket listed on National Register of Historic Places:

Filming location

Woonsocket has served as a filming location for several movies, including Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009) and The Purge: Election Year (2016).

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. ^ "About Woonsocket". City of Woonsocket. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
  4. ^ "Woonsocket, Rhode Island - My Home Town - History". www.woonsocket.org.
  5. ^ Walter Nebiker, The History of North Smithfield (New England History Press: Somersworth, NH: 1976), 12–13.
  6. ^ "Nipmuc place names of New England". native tach.org. Retrieved April 12, 2008.
  7. ^ "Historic and Architectural Resources of North Smithfield, Rhode Island: A Preliminary Report," North Smithfield - Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage ..., pg. 63, http://www.preservation.ri.gov/pdfs_zips_downloads/survey_pdfs/north_smithfield.pdf
  8. ^ a b Erik Eclison. "Growth of an Industrial City". Woonsocket: My Hometown on the Web. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
  9. ^ "L'Union St. Jean Baptiste d'Amerique". Worcester Magazine. Vol. XVIII. Worcester Chamber of Commerce; Belisle Printing & Publishing. 1915. pp. 184–185.
  10. ^ "French Towns in the United States; A Study of the Relative Strength of the French-Speaking Population in Our Large Cities". The American Leader. Vol. IV no. 11. New York: American Association of Foreign Language Newspapers, Inc. December 11, 1913. pp. 672–674.
  11. ^ Pierre Anctil, "Franco-American in New England" in Dean R. Louder and Eric Waddell, ed., and Franklin Philip, tran. French America: Mobility, Identity and Monority Experience Across the Continent (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993), p. 40
  12. ^ a b Anctil, "Franco-Americans in New England", p. 41
  13. ^ Philip Marcelo (October 9, 2007). "Woonsocket's Autumnfest draws thousands". Providence Journal. Retrieved January 28, 2009.
  14. ^ "Intellicast - Weather Underground". www.wunderground.com.
  15. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Woonsocket, Rhode Island". Weatherbase. 2011. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
  16. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  17. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  18. ^ "Census Quick facts for Woonsocket".
  19. ^ "Food stamps put Rhode Island town on monthly boom-and-bust cycle". The Washington Post. 2013-03-16. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
  20. ^ Dani Safford (September 13, 2008). "Woonsocket's Autumnfest draws thousands". The Woonsocket Call. Archived from the original on September 20, 2008. Retrieved January 28, 2009.
  21. ^ via Associated Press. "Francis Lawrence, Former Rutgers President, Dies at 75", The New York Times, April 17, 2013. Accessed November 30, 2017. "Mount Laurel, N.J. — Francis L. Lawrence, who was president of Rutgers University for 12 years and worked to raise its national profile, died on Tuesday at his home here.... Dr. Lawrence was born on Aug. 25, 1937, and grew up in Woonsocket, R.I. "

External links

Aram J. Pothier

Aram Jules Pothier (July 26, 1854 – February 4, 1928) was an American banker and politician of French Canadian descent. He served as the 51st and 55th Governor of Rhode Island.

CVS Caremark

CVS Caremark (formerly Caremark Rx) (stylized as CVScaremark, previously CVS/caremark) is the prescription benefit management subsidiary of CVS Health, headquartered in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

Denise Duhamel

Denise Duhamel (born 1961 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island) is an American poet.

Drew Inzer

Andrew A. Inzer (born December 5, 1979) is a former American football offensive lineman. He attended Brown University and was a practice squad member of the Super Bowl XXXVI winning New England Patriots and on the active roster of the Jacksonville Jaguars.Inzer was a two-year letterman at Brown (1999–2000), where he had transferred to from Boston University, which had dropped its football program.He serves as an Economics teacher as well as a football coach at The Lawrenceville School.

He also serves as Housemaster of the Hamill House.

Along with this, he served as a dorm head for Hayden Hall and Shea Family Cottage at Northfield Mount Hermon Prep School. In his spare time he enjoys playing the bassoon.

Kylie Duarte

Kylie Duarte (born April 23, 1993 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island) is an American pair skater. With former partner Colin Grafton, she is the 2012 U.S. junior bronze medalist. The pair announced the end of their partnership in October 2012.

L'Eglise du Precieux Sang

The L'Eglise du Precieux Sang (also known as The Church of the Precious Blood (in French) is a historic Roman Catholic church complex at 94 Carrington Avenue and 61 Park Avenue in Woonsocket, Rhode Island within the Diocese of Providence.

Michael Morin

Michael A. Morin is an American politician and a Democratic member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives representing District 49 since March 4, 2014.

Museum of Work and Culture

The Museum of Work and Culture is a museum in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, that features exhibits focusing on the city's textile manufacturing heritage. The museum is operated by the Rhode Island Historical Society and located at 42 South Main Street in Market Square in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Woonsocket, Rhode Island

This is a list of National Register of Historic Places listings in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

Included in the list are all properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, United States. Woonsocket is home to 39 of the 410 properties and districts listed in Providence County. Properties and districts located in the county's other municipalities are listed separately. One Woonsocket listing,

the Blackstone Canal, extends into other parts of Providence County, and appears on multiple lists.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted June 7, 2019.

Robert Phillips (politician)

Robert D. Phillips (born May 29, 1956 in Wiltshire, England) is an American politician and a Democratic member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives representing District 51 since January 2011.

South Main Street Historic District (Woonsocket, Rhode Island)

The South Main Street Historic District is a residential historic district in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. It extends along South Main Street between Mason Street on one end and Andrews and Bradford Streets on the other, and includes properties on adjacent streets, principally Ballou and North Ballou Streets. The district includes 65 main properties, most of which were built between 1880 and 1930, although there is a cluster of older properties (Greek Revival houses dating as far back as 1830) in the northern half of the district. The district typifies the American main road leading into a town, lined by landscaped lots with high-quality houses.The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

St. Ann's Church Complex (Woonsocket, Rhode Island)

St. Ann's Church Complex is now a historic cultural center in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on Cumberland Street. It was formerly a Roman Catholic church within the Diocese of Providence.

St. Charles Borromeo Church Complex (Woonsocket, Rhode Island)

The St. Charles Borromeo Church Complex is an historic Roman Catholic Church in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on North Main Street within the Diocese of Providence.

St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Woonsocket

St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish is a Roman Catholic parish located in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, United States. It is known for its vibrant Polish-American community, various community events, and youthful parishioner base. St. Stanislaus is and always has been a group built around the faith and love for God. It proudly maintains its church, rectory, and parish center in good conditions. During the year, dances, bazaars, flea markets, and various events are hosted at the parish center, which is located in the church's parking lot.

Stephen Casey

Stephen M. Casey (born September 12, 1968) is an American politician and a Democratic member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives representing District 50 since January 1, 2013.

United States Post Office (Woonsocket, Rhode Island)

The U.S. Post Office (now known as the Woonsocket YMCA) is a historic former post office building at 295 Main Street in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. The single-story masonry building was built 1910-12 and served as Woonsocket's main post office until 1975.The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. It is now part of the Woonsocket YMCA.


WNRI (1380 AM, "1380 AM & 95.1 FM WNRI") is a radio station located in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. The station has a news & talk radio format and has been owned by Bouchard Broadcasting Inc. since 2004. WNRI began broadcasting November 28, 1954.


WWKX (106.3 FM, "Hot 106") is a Rhythmic Contemporary station serving the Providence area. The Cumulus Media outlet operates with an ERP of 1.15 kW and is licensed to Woonsocket, Rhode Island. The station's studios are located in East Providence and the transmitter site is in Cumberland.

William C. Lovering

William Croad Lovering (February 25, 1835 – February 4, 1910) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.

Climate data for Woonsocket, Rhode Island
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 68
Average high °F (°C) 37
Average low °F (°C) 13
Record low °F (°C) −25
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.52
Average snowfall inches (cm) 11.3
Source #1: [14]
Source #2: [15]
Municipalities and communities of Providence County, Rhode Island, United States
Major cities
Cities and towns
Cities and towns
Cities and towns

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