In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, immigrants flocked to Rhode Island in search of work and prosperity within the state's mill towns. Their labors?both on and off the factory floor?helped define the culture of the Blackstone Valley. Today, the Museum of Work and Culture preserves their stories for future generations.
More than 25,000 artifacts, 100,000 printed items, 400,000 historic maps and photographs, and 9 million feet of motion-picture film. Founded in 1822, the Rhode Island Historical Society chronicles the past of its native state with an expansive collection, film screenings, special presentations, and other weekly events. In addition to these programs, the organization keeps local history alive at its three historic sites. Visitors can embark on guided or self-guided explorations of the 18th-century John Brown House Museum?a registered National Historic Landmark?as well as the library, which houses the society's collections. The Rhode Island Historical Society also oversees the Museum of Work and Culture, where exhibits recount the social, cultural, and economic history of northern Rhode Island through the 20th century.
Bright lights gleam off of the newly renovated synthetic lanes that grace Old Mountain Lanes and Walnut Hill Bowl. These premier alleys train one eye on 10-pin history and the other on modern day amenities, including LCD scoring monitors, automatic bumpers for kids, and laser-guided bowling ball retrievers. Cosmic bowling is de rigueur on weekend nights, and strike-less players on-strike can enjoy pool tables, video games, and air hockey at the arcade. Both alleys pour frothy mugs of beer at on-site pubs.
Modeled after a cozy English pub, Ciro's Tavern maintains a menu packed with upscale pub fare, pizza, and delectable seafood, chicken, and steak entrees. Traditional tavern victuals take a posh spin with such options as the baked lobster macaroni and cheese ($12), the Ashworth burger—loaded with caramelized honey-dijon onions and gorgonzola ($8)—and lobster sliders ($3 each). Ciro's chefs smack the finishing topping-touches on eleven varieties of grilled pizzas, including the Lobster Mobster, with freshly cracked lobster meat nestled amid asparagus and tomatoes, reclining atop a molten bed of cheese and alfredo sauce ($13). Stab a fork into the lobster risotto ($18), the house specialty, or give steaks the deep-sea treatment with a coat of lobster cream sauce ($4), enhancing such cuts as the 16-ounce rib eye and 12-ounce sirloin ($18 each).
Though recently featured in a USA Today Travel article that praised its “astonishing” chow mein sandwich, Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining is known by locals for more than just its kitchen’s specialties. The restaurant also won a prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive award in 2011, and its world-famous jazz and blues performances have helped cement its self-proclaimed reputation as New England’s "home of eggroll, jazz, and blues."
Long before the sounds of horns and saxophones filled its halls, the New Shanghai Restaurant opened its doors in 1905. It was not until the mid-1960s, however, that the Chan family refurbished the Woonsocket landmark and began serving an innovative combination of Cantonese, Szechwan, Hunan, and Mandarin cuisines. Around this time, the Chans also brought in the live jazz and blues music that continues to fill the main dining area—known as the Horseshoe Bar Lounge—and the famous Four Seasons Jazz and Blues Club.
With its red paper lanterns, traditional Chinese artwork, and colorful paintings of musicians, the Four Seasons has played host to such legendary blues, jazz, and folk artists as Dizzy Gillespie and Rebecca Parris. A buffet spread accompanies musical performances, during which enthralled audiences watch as musicians pound eggrolls against snare drums or slide their hands along guitars strung up with slippery chow mein noodles.
After purchasing his first DSLR camera, Gary Detonnancourt made the common mistake of investing in expensive equipment before learning to use what he already had. Eventually realizing that his gear was only as good as his understanding of it, he became a self-made expert in the art of digital photography. He went on to become president of the Northern Rhode Island Camera Club, and he now draws on years spent as a science teacher to explain to students how light works and why shining a laser pointer on something is hilarious. That same experience has caused him to apply a hands-on philosophy in workshops and online programs as well as lessons in studio photography, fine-art printing, and Photoshop. The shutterbug also appears at weddings to capture special-day grins, and portraits of young children beg for space in photo albums next to teddy bear–hunting licenses.