Providence is located at the head of Narragansett Bay, with the Providence River running into the bay through the center of the city, formed by the confluence of the Moshassuck and Woonasquatucket Rivers. The Waterplace Park amphitheater and riverwalks line the river’s banks through downtown. Providence is one of many cities claimed to be founded on seven hills like Rome. The more prominent hills are: Constitution Hill (near downtown), College Hill (east of the Providence River), and Federal Hill (west of downtown and containing New England’s largest Italian district outside of Massachusetts). The other four are: Tockwotten Hill at Fox Point, Smith Hill (where the State House is located), Christian Hill at Hoyle Square (junction of Cranston and Westminster Streets), and Weybosset Hill at the lower end of Weybosset Street, which was leveled in the early 1880s.
The city of Providence is geographically very compact, characteristic of eastern seaboard cities that developed prior to use of the automobile. It is among the most densely populated cities in the country. Downtown Providence has numerous 19th-century mercantile buildings in the Federal and Victorian architectural styles, as well as several post-modern and modernist buildings located throughout the area.
The majority of the cityscape comprises abandoned and revitalized industrial mills, double- and triple-decker housing (though row houses are rare, found so commonly in other Northeast cities), a small number of high-rise buildings (predominantly for housing the elderly), and single family homes.
Much of Providence culture is synonymous with the culture of Rhode Island as a whole. Like the state, the city has a non-rhotic accent that can be heard on local media. Providence also shares Rhode Island’s affinity for coffee, with the most coffee and doughnut shops per capita of any city in the country. Providence is also reputed to have the highest number of restaurants per capita of major U.S. cities.
During the summer months, the city regularly hosts WaterFire, an environmental art installation that consists of about 100 bonfires which blaze just above the surface of the three rivers that pass through the middle of downtown Providence. There are multiple Waterfire events that are accompanied by various pieces of classical and world music. The public art displays change on a regular basis, most notably the sculptures.