Mount Pleasant is a primarily middle-class residential neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of the city. The area is bounded by the neighborhoods of Manton to the west, Olneyville to the south, Valley to the east, Elmhurst to the east and northeast, and the town of North Providence to the northwest. The major street boundaries that define the Mount Pleasant area are Academy Avenue to the east, Smith Street to the northeast, Atwells Avenue to the south, and portions of Bullock, Chalkstone, Mera, and Rushmore Avenues to the west. Mount Pleasant was one of the last sections of the city to be developed, and as a result, most of the houses are of medium size on well landscaped lots and tree-lined streets. Although some houses were constructed in the 19th century, most were built in the early 20th century.
The common land in Mount Pleasant remained farm land through much of the 18th century with little development activity. By the 1730s, two roads had been established with the purpose of delivering produce from the outlying farms. The roads included the northern branch along what are now Douglas Avenue and Eaton Street, and the southern branch along Chalkstone Avenue.
Settlement remained sparse in Mount Pleasant until nearly the end of the 19th century. During the early 1870s, plats of house lots were laid out, but the national economic panic of 1873 dramatically slowed down development plans. Although plats sized for more modest houses were laid out, there were some large lots intended for more substantial houses located south of Chalkstone Avenue and west of Academy Avenues. A couple of houses appeared along the major streets before the late 1880s, but substantial residential development occurred only after the economy picked up and public transportation improved. By 1882, streetcars traversed Chalkstone Avenue, extending out to Smith Street and North Providence by the 1890s. In the early 1900s, a neighborhood commercial strip formed along Chalkstone Avenue between River Avenue and Mount Pleasant Avenue. Today, that commercial strip is still a thriving part of the neighborhood. Another neighborhood landmark is Triggs Memorial Golf Course, a full 9 holes and a clubhouse in the middle of the city.
By the early 20th century, the Mount Pleasant area was predominantly middle and upper middle-class. The ethnic composition of the area began to become more diverse after 1900, as second and third generation Irish began to move into the area to escape from more crowded neighborhoods like Smith Hill and Upper and Lower South Providence. By the mid 20th century, second and third-generation Italians comprised a significant portion of the neighborhood's ethnic composition, many of them having moved to Mount Pleasant from Federal Hill.
The quiet and spacious qualities of the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, in conjunction with the availability of large tracts of undeveloped land in the form of 19th century estates, attracted various large educational institutions. The area bounded by Mount Pleasant, Bullock, and Chalkstone Avenues contains Rhode Island College, Mount Pleasant High School, and LaSalle Academy. Along with Triggs Memorial Golf Course, this institutional area is significant in that it provides the neighborhood with substantial open space.
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