Cranston, city, Providence county, central Rhode Island, U.S. It lies on the western shore of Narragansett Bay and adjoins Providence city. The first settlement was made on the Pawtuxet River in 1638 by William Arnold, an ancestor of Benedict Arnold and a compatriot of Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island colony. Separated from Providence in 1754, it became a town and was named for Samuel Cranston, governor of Rhode Island (1698–1727). Its early growth depended on the textile industry. It was incorporated as a city in 1910.
Although primarily a residential suburb, Cranston has industrial plants that produce machinery, jewelry, food products, and metals. Truck and dairy farms and nurseries are in the area. The city is the seat of the state’s adult and juvenile correctional institutions. The Joy Homestead (c. 1778) and the Sprague Mansion (1790) are historic landmarks.
As one of America’s 50 Best Cities to Live as selected by 24/7 Wall Street, Cranston is home to over 81,000. Cranston is the second largest City in the State of Rhode Island and home to two of our State’s premier shopping and dining centers – Garden City and Chapel View. Being a vibrant suburban community, Cranston also boasts of rural areas on the western side of the City and a shoreline on beautiful Narragansett Bay to the east.
The city of Cranston, Rhode Island, has a population of about 80,000, making it the third-largest metro area in the state. The thing about Cranston, however, is that it borders Rhode Island’s two larger cities, Providence and Warwick, making it difficult to know when you’ve left one municipality and entered another.
That’s not to say that Cranston doesn’t have an identity of its own, as the city has one of the country’s lowest crime rates and consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the United States in numerous surveys.
All of these accolades reveal a city that has a little bit of everything. It features large residential sections, yet there are always plenty of shopping dining options nearby. The center is also away from the bustle of downtown Providence, but you can be there in less than 15 minutes.
Overall, Cranston, RI, provides all of the benefits of suburban living while having easy access to the amenities and convenience of a larger city, giving residents the best of both worlds.
There are over 30 neighborhoods and villages in Cranston. Some of the most notable include:
Cranston’s downtown area sits in an area called Auburn, which is also home to an extensive residential section. Park Avenue features numerous restaurants and shops, in addition to a theater, City Hall, and a high school, while Pontiac Avenue and Reservoir Avenue also have shopping and dining. The I-95 runs through this section of the city, too, providing direct access to downtown Providence.
Bordered closely by Providence to the north and Warwick to the south, Edgewood is Cranston’s only waterfront neighborhood. This area sits on the shores of the Providence River, and features marinas and yacht clubs, making it a popular place for locals to spend their time.
You probably won’t live in Howard once you move to Cranston, but there’s a good chance you’ll work there. This section of town doesn’t have much in the way of residential properties. Still, it is home to multiple correctional facilities, the RI Office of the Attorney General, a hospital, the Rhode Island Lottery offices, some car dealerships, and numerous industrial sites.
If you’re working in Howard, Oaklawn is an excellent place to live because it’s right next door. This village on the south end of town features a sizeable residential area, in addition to some shopping and dining along Oaklawn Avenue. Oaklawn is also a historic area that is highlighted by the Edward Searle House, one of the oldest structures in all of Rhode Island.
The neighborhood of Knightsville sits at the north end of Cranston and is mostly residential. There are some shops and restaurants on Atwood Avenue and Phenix Avenue, however, in addition to schools and parks. Knightsville is perhaps best known for the Feast of Saint Mary, a week-long annual event featuring a carnival, fireworks, and, of course, a large meal.
Many families choose to live in Meshanticut because it’s away from the central parts of the city and home to Meshanticut State Park. This park has a lake that provides a great place to fish and a surrounding wooded area where you can do some hiking.
What to do and see
Cranston isn’t the liveliest place in the state, but it doesn’t need to be thanks to its proximity to both Providence and Washington County. For shopping, check out the Garden City Centre, a major shopping mall located in the Garden City neighborhood, which is just north of Howard.
If you’re interested in checking out some historical sites, the Norwood Avenue Historic District, Pawtuxet Village, and the Governor Sprague Mansion are worth a visit. Many of the buildings are restored and allow you to step back in time to see how life in this part of the country operated centuries ago.
For outdoor activities, Pawtuxet Oxboes Park has baseball diamonds and wooded trails, while Budlong Pool is one of the country’s largest outdoor swimming facilities. The pool area also has fields and basketball courts, making it an excellent place to spend the day.
You can also do some swimming or fishing in John L. Curran State Park, while Cranston Stebbins Stadium is a meeting place on Friday nights, as there is always a high school football game in the fall.
Just outside of Cranston is Roger Williams Park Zoo, the state’s largest, and some of the country’s most beautiful beaches are nearby in places like Warwick and Narragansett.
You’ll always find things to do in Cranston, and if you don’t, you’re only minutes from other towns and cities that will meet your needs.