Cranston, the third biggest city in Rhode Island, is located in Providence County on the banks of the Pawtuxet River on Narragansett Bay. According to statistics released in mid-2009, Cranston's population numbers just over 80,000, an increase from 2000 of 1.1 percent, who enjoy a suburban lifestyle with a low crime rate in one of the most beautiful areas in America. Those moving to Cranston will also discover that the city is a popular residential area, as it is on the coast; while the west of Cranston is more rural. The nearest cities to Cranston are Providence, Warwick, Johnston, West Warwick, East and North Providence – all about two miles away; and Boston, Massachusetts, which is 42 miles to the north east.
In 2006 Money Magazine rated Cranston as being one of the 100 Best Places to Live, as it is one of the safest cities in America and has a relatively low cost of living index. With unemployment at around 5.6 percent, the economy of the area is considered to be stable.
The largest contributors to the economy of Cranston are financial services (mainly banks and insurance companies), manufacturing, hospitality (tourism, including hotels, entertainment and gambling), agriculture (dairy, poultry, honey, crops and hay as well as hothouse products) and fishing (including the valuable lobster and other shellfish market). There is also a small mining sector and medical research and development in which add to the economic stability of Cranston.
The tourism industry in Cranston is developing in line with the increasing numbers of visitors it receives annually. The historic sections of the city – Lippitt Hill, Furnace Brook, Pawtuxet Village and Oaklawn Village – are well worth a visit; as are Sprague Mansion (which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places); the Thomas Fenner House (considered as among the oldest houses in Rhode Island State) and Joy Homestead (a farmhouse of historic value displaying beautiful antiques of the era).
The original inhabitants of the region surrounding Cranston were the Narragansett Indians. The first settlers to the area were led by the Englishman William Arnold in 1638. In 1754 Cranston was incorporated as town and in 1910 was incorporated as a city. with its residents living mainly off income generated from agriculture. After the Industrial Revolution (mainly in England) of the 18th and early 19th centuries, many immigrants arrived and the city grew with new industries having been introduced, including milling which was a major employer.