Pawtucket (population 72,958) was founded in 1671 at the strategic falls of the Blackstone River and the upper tidewaters of Narragansett Bay. The community's available waterpower was a principal reason that Samuel Slater chose Pawtucket as the site of his revolutionary efforts to mechanize cotton production.
In 1793, Slater first successfully operated water-powered cotton spinning machinery at Slater Mill, making Pawtucket "The Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution."
Today, the Slater Mill complex is a living history museum. The city recently lent support to the effort to replace the 16,000 pound waterwheel at the complex's Wilkinson Mill (1811). The new wheel allows interpreters to again demonstrate to over 50,000 visitors a year how water powered the mills.
Other preservation and heritage tourism projects supported by the city include establishment of a downtown arts district, conversion of former mill buildings to housing, and expansion of its visitors center to serve as a Blackstone Valley Gateway facility. The city has six historic districts, and a self-guided walking tour of downtown highlights the outstanding architectural decoration and unusual artwork of the area's 19th-century buildings.
Designated a Preserve America Community in June 2004.