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The Atlantic Mills complex dates back to 1851, when it started as the "Atlantic Delaine" factory for the manufacture of worsted textiles. The main surviving buildings were constructed in 1863 and 1882.

In the late 19th century, Atlantic Mills employed over 2,000 workers and was one of the largest textiles plants in the country.

Textile production continued until the 1950s. Since then the buildings have been used for a variety of smaller businesses, including a notable art gallery in the 1990s, and Providence's largest flea market.