Providence was named by Roger Williams in honor of "God's merciful Providence" in his finding this spot to settle when expelled by the Puritans from Massachusetts. The official name of the state includes the name of the city, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 53.2 km² (20.5 mi²). 47.8 km² (18.5 mi²) of it is land and 5.3 km² (2.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 10.03% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 173,618 people, 62,389 households, and 35,873 families residing in the city. The population density is 3,629.4/km² (9,401.7/mi²). There are 67,915 housing units at an average density of 1,419.7/km² (3,677.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 54.53% White, 14.54% African American, 1.14% Native American, 6.01% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 17.55% from other races, and 6.08% from two or more races. 30.03% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 62,389 households out of which 32.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.9% are married couples living together, 20.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 42.5% are non-families. 32.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.56 and the average family size is 3.33.
In the city the population is spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 18.9% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 15.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 28 years. For every 100 females there are 91.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 87.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $26,867, and the median income for a family is $32,058. Males have a median income of $28,894 versus $23,472 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,525. 29.1% of the population and 23.9% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 40.1% are under the age of 18 and 19.0% are 65 or older.
Providence is the home of Providence College, Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Johnson and Wales University. The East Side neighborhood of Providence includes the largest contiguous area of National Historic Society-designated buildings in America. Providence has hosted the Gravity Games alternative sports tournament during several recent summers. Providence also has a huge new shopping mall and several music venues including AS220, The Met Cafe, and the excellent Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel. In the summer months there are multiple WaterFire events on the downtown rivers.