Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island – long known for its fine Italian restaurants and home base to the legendary Raymond L.S. Patriarca organized crime ring that operated from the former Coin-O-Matic Shop on Atwell's Avenue – wasn't always Italian.

Federal Hill used to be Irish.

Known today as "Providence's Little Italy," Federal Hill is ranked in the top five Little Italy neighborhoods in the country by Travel & Leisure, along with Boston, New York, San Diego and Philadelphia.

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According to the Federal Hill Commerce Association's website, "Whether you are shopping the local grocery markets, bakery, or just stopping by for a cappuccino, Federal Hill, Providence is an experience like no other!"

Rhode Island Monthly says from the 1820s-40s, "Irish immigrants arrive and settle in Federal Hill, working in manufacturing, carpentry, and other trades." The publication says, "Before the Hill becomes Italian, it is dominated by the Irish who were escaping famine."

Providence's Federal Hill Was Irish Before The Italians Took Over
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Rhode Island Monthly also says in the early 1900s, "The second wave of immigrants, this time Italians, begins to arrive and settle in Federal Hill, making it one of the most densely packed Italian neighborhoods in the nation."

By 1930, an estimated 20 percent of the population of Providence was Italian.

Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci served as Mayor of Providence from 1975 to 1984 and from 1991 to 2002. Both terms ended in felony convictions. The second conviction got Cianci five years in federal prison.

Cianci became the first Italian-American Republican Mayor of Providence, defeating incumbent Joseph A. Doorley, ending a 150-year reign by Irish-American Democrats.

Cianci died on January 28, 2016. He was 74.

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