Federal Hill Arch crumbling down

In Parks/Open Space by Jef Nickerson11 Comments

While I’m ranting, a post by Councilman Lombardi on Faceplace reminded me that I had a bunch of photos I took over the spring that I meant to post.







Photos by Jef Nickerson

I mean, this can’t be good can it?

About the Author

Jef Nickerson


Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  1. It looks like salt migrating out of the conctete when it’s wet. Maybe they could remove the damaged surface areas then parge the column as a temporary fix. It would be a dramatic failure when if or it goes.

  2. Yes, that’s salt migration.

    The columns need to be replaced. But I doubt the city has the money.

  3. Haven’t we, as a human civilization, been doing concrete for a while now? Why haven’t we gotten this down? Why is the train station crumbling for this reason too?

    I just had a guy come to look at some crumbling concrete in my driveway, and he said the person who did it for the previous owner “didn’t do this concrete right.” Huh?

    Can someone enlighten me as to the complexities of concrete?

  4. Don’t use aggregate in the concrete that contains salt. Concrete can last longer if it’s protected from wetness, especially from acid rain or chemicals used to keep streets clear of ice.

  5. I heard a totally unsubstantiated rumor that the RIRRC grinds up most of the plastic and ‘sells’ it to the landfill to use as a ‘cap’ for the daily waste. That way they can say that they ‘recycled’ and that they ‘sold the recyclables at a profit’.

    I’d like to see what I saw in Oakland, CA but a step further:

    City-provided trash/compost/recyclable barrels are the -only- barrels that will be picked up. The twist would be that you would pay a lot more for a ‘full size’ trash barrel, the standard-issue would be quite small. Barrels would have to be issued with your address branded onto them to prevent theft.

  6. Whoops, that was meant for another thread, though that concrete could probably be used to cap off today’s take at the landfill, by the looks of it.

  7. Author

    ProJo reports that the city is getting ready to solicit bids to fix this:

    Chief engineer William Bombard said the arch’s four support columns are badly deteriorated, and the city will have to invest between $30,000 to $80,000 to have them wrapped in carbon fiber to prevent further erosion.

    Not sure what a carbon fiber wrap will look like, but I suppose it can’t be worse than crumbling concrete. The city also considered taking down the arch and building new columns, but I imagine that would be a quite expensive course of action. The engineer says the columns are sound and the arch is not in danger of falling.

    The arch was completed in 1980, making it just under 30 years old.

  8. Pingback: Fixing the Federal Hill Arch? | Greater City: Providence

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