Providence is the capital and most populous city of the state of Rhode Island and was one of the first cities established in the United States. Located in Providence County, it is the third largest city in the New England region. The city proper population of 178,042 anchors the 37th largest metropolitan population in the country, with an estimated MSA population of 1,600,856, exceeding that of Rhode Island by about 60% due to its reaching into southern Massachusetts. This MSA in turn is part of the larger Greater Boston commuting area, which contains 7.6 million people. Situated at the mouth of the Providence River, at the head of Narragansett Bay, the city's small footprint is crisscrossed by seemingly erratic streets and contains a rapidly changing demographic. Providence was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
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