How Did Providence Lose Its Mojo? Can It Get it Back in 2022 – Architecture Critic Morgan


Sunday, February 13, 2022

How did Providence lose that Mojo, and 2022-in the mayoral election-could it be a year to regain it? With the campaign in mind, propose a simple, practical platform based on the streets of the city that could truly offer a realistic opportunity to revitalize the city.

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Hope Street is a paradigm of successful cityscapes.Photo: Morgan

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My wife and I chose to move to Providence over 20 years ago. We did a city search based on choosing the ideal place to live, not on work. We were fascinated by the capital of Rhode Island. The capital of Rhode Island was like a cat barking in the late 1990s, very smart, full of energy and promises.

A shopping visit to our city took place during RISD’s homecoming street fair. At WaterFire we see how the river was discovered and revived, and most incredibly, how the city relocates the huge scars of I-195 across the water from College Hill to the Jewelery District. I learned. The gondola cruised the river and it seemed very appropriate to make Florence a sister city of Providence. In short, Providence looked like an imaginary city at the forefront of the golden age that we hadn’t experienced since the turn of the 20th century.

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WaterFire sketch.Morgan

After living here for 20 years, the promises that have attracted us seem a bit volatile, but the exciting ideas are lost. (This happened before covid gave everyone a vibrant malaise.) Our urbanist literate and visionary mayor went to jail. The extraordinary new architectural work could not offset the mundaneness of the ironic name of the Innovation District. Despite the presence of Ivy League University, an internationally renowned design school, and several other higher education institutions, the dream of another Cambridge, Silicon Valley, or Research Triangle hasn’t come true.

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Cianci (details) of the mayor poster.Photo: Morgan

Now is the time to rebuild the city’s infrastructure and its image with modest yet wise proposals focused on our city. Streets are the lifeline of a city, its arteries and synapses. These walkways are where we connect and where we live outdoors (walking, cycling, dining, social connections). By taking care of the streets, savvy politicians were able to do a lot to get the Providence back on track. Instead of supporting chimeras such as mega towers and sports stadiums, exploring our city will bring greater benefits and last longer.

First, fill the pothole. Our bumpy, recessed streets are the Third World, and fixing them must be a priority for all mayors who want to succeed. There is certainly an imaginative way to do this, which can provide a job and perhaps come up with a better way to pave the road, not just asphalt. Would you like to have Brown engineers develop innovative new road surfaces?

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Typical Providence pothole.Photo: Morgan

Repair the sidewalk. Providence is highly regarded as an easy-to-walk city, but dangerously many sidewalks are broken. The city can set up several public works units to repair and maintain these necessary assets.

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Unfulfilled promise of sidewalk repair.Photo: Carolyn Morgan

Plow the streets-all of them, and in a timely manner. All mayors know this, but few seem to be able to do it. During the recent snowstorm, I had to shovel a 50-foot city road to reach the poor one-lane wide cultivated part of the street. This is New England, we have winter, so why should snow paralyze commerce?

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A half-cultivated street between the synagogue and the church.Photo: Morgan

A half-cultivated street between the synagogue and the church.Photo: Morgan

Plant and maintain trees. A lush city is a more attractive and healthy place. It took several years for the city and three different crew members to get rid of the dead tree in front of our house. Instead of bravely confronting bureaucratic bureaucratic formalism and waiting for the city to come up with an alternative, we bought and planted our own trees.

Even the appearance of safety increases the use of the streets (which will make the streets safer), so keep them well illuminated. Lighting is a small price to pay for increased security.

Keeping the streets free of debris and debris should be part of this program. Enforce littering prevention laws and probably hire homeless people to pick up trash. What about more gomi boxes, perhaps handsome and practical objects of street furniture from talented industrial designer executives?

Creative Capital deserves outstanding urban graphics. Signs should be distinctive, easy to read, and maintained. This is one of the little gestures that can be very helpful in declaring good governance. Our city is full of great graphic designers, so why not create a Providence font for an urban sign?

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It was cluttered under the guise of information.Photo: Morgan

And above all, we help the police in enforcing traffic laws. Running a stop sign to everyone and snorting with speed limit, turn signal, and four-way stop protocols suggests illegal citizens. This lack of public responsibility suggests something darker than a selfish driver trying to spend time on a Dunkin donut.

Cultivation and pavement are not as dramatic as, for example, pension reform. But this small and beautiful approach to urban problems will enjoy tangible and concrete benefits. Accept that streets are as much a component of social contracts as education and fire protection, for example. That way, we can always reassure us and begin to create a civilized atmosphere that reminds us that we are citizens of urban 21st century society.

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With some maintenance, Smith Street could become a boulevard again.Photo: Morgan

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Will Morgan has taught urban design and urban history.

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