MSNBC: The slow death and rebirth of Central Falls

The slow death and rebirth of Central Falls

The Pawtucket/Central Falls railroad station has been in disuse since 1981.

06/03/14 11:07 AM—UPDATED 06/03/14 03:52 PM

If Rhode Island was the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, then Central Falls was its cradle. 

American textile manufacturing first took hold in Central Falls and the neighboring town of Pawtucket, creating a booming mill town. First producing chocolate and snuff, the mills came to produce “clothing, tools, brooms, aprons, badges, candy, beverage bottles, lace, braid, hosiery, webbing, belting, spools, art goods, rayon, mills supplies, monuments, and knitting machines,” according to the city. That drew early waves of European immigrants from Canada, Ireland, Poland, and Portugal, whose descendants still live in the area. In the 1960s and 1970s, a labor shortage prompted a second wave of immigrants from Latin America to begin coming to the area.

In Central Falls, as elsewhere in America, globalization and advances in technology slowed the town’s economic engine. The relics of the town’s industrial boom years remain scattered throughout the tiny city of Central Falls. The city and private developers have tried to repurpose some of the old factory sites. But others are still shuttered and abandoned as the town struggles to reinvent itself.

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Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, joins neighboring town, Lincoln, for their Annual Memorial Day Parade on May 26, 2014.


 Real estate developer M Residential has converted this old mill on Roosevelt Avenue in Central Falls, into lofts. The company plans to repurpose the building next door for the same purposes.

This Victorian style house facing Central Falls High School will be repurposed by the city into a tutoring facility.

A waitress sweeps the floor at Sparky's Restaurant on Memorial Day in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

Central Falls, Rhode Island is seen from Jenks Park, a historical site in Central Falls.


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