Greater City Providence


  • And if you recall, when they tried to take down the Hartford Ave. high-rise back about 15 or so years ago, they ran into the same problems.

    They found out it was built like the proverbial brick shithouse.

  • A similar event occurred in 1989 in Providence. When the first scheduled implosion of one of the Hartford Park towers was detonated and the tower didn’t come down as planned. One of the primary reasons for demolishing the tower was that it was deemed structurally unsafe. City officials didn’t realize that when the complex was built in the early 1950s that the structural design compensated for seismic activity making it problematic to demolish with explosives.

    There was video footage of the failed demolition that appeared on the national news at the time.

    The real reason that the towers were demolished is that they became dumping grounds for the poor/welfare class. How many apartments were lost? The apartments that were built in Hartford Park as with other public housing projects were high quality dwellings for their time. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to renovate and diversify the population in the three towers instead of demolishing them?

    Funny how other than few examples from the 60s and 70s downtown and the current new residential towers in Capital Center, Providence doesn’t value high-rise residential development. After all “normal” people live in houses or small multi-family buildings of three stories or less. Just the elderly and poor live in towers outside of downtown and they don’t seem to count.

    Why is it that the city’s zoning regulations provides for no districts other than downtown for high-rise residential development? Why was it ok before the 1980s to build high-rise buildings outside of downtown and it isn’t now? There are plenty of underdeveloped or diminished parts of the city, outside of intact low-rise residential neighborhoods, that could offer opportunities for high-rise residential living.

    This can’t simply be blamed on the PHA that it was mismanagement issue. This was a broader city and state policy issue that was inadequately addressed at the time. How would the city be different today, if in 1989 city and state officials had the vision to remake the lost Hartford Park towers instead of disposing of them?

  • I was looking for a video of the Hartford Park Towers on the YouTubes, but I didn’t look very hard.

  • It was a one time news story from May 21, 1989. The video could have been erased or lost. I don’t remember if it was from NBC or PBS?

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