In 1830, the area around you was bustling with activity that dramatically changed the landscape of the Blackstone Valley. The Blackstone Canal, across Canal Street from where you stand, was an economic lifeline. The canal linked Providence's seaport to Worcester, Massachusetts, 45 miles north. Horses pulled barges upstream filled with bales of cotton, iron rods, and bushels of oysters. They made the return trip with finished goods like chairs, cloth, iron castings, and hogsheads of cider. Workers used handcarts and wagons to move goods back and forth between the canal and sailing vessels anchored in Providence's deep-water port, about a half mile away.
The two Unions between Worcester and Providence -
the first was as weak as water, the last as strong as iron.
A toast at a meeting between railroad officials, November 11, 1847
After about 20 years, a new technology-railroads-replaced the Blackstone Canal for faster and cheaper transportation of goods and materials.