Greater City Providence

News & Notes

Proposed Fox Point mural sparks controversy

“It was ghetto stuff,” says George Goulart, owner of Aqua-Life Aquarium, a Wickenden Street store adorned by a coral reef-themed mural. “That was not the project that I had donated $500 to. I never imagined they’d propose such a surrealistic, cartoonish thing.”

“A mural there says this is a neighborhood in distress,” she says. “We have lived through cocaine dealing, bar brawls, vandalism and bullet holes through our windows. I certainly do not wish to be across from a school that, by design, will come to look like an abandoned subway car or a highway overpass in the Bronx.”

Oh my!

Stop calling it the Knowledge District

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m not really down with this movement to rebrand the Jewelry District as the Knowledge District. Have to agree with Mr. Kane on this one.

“Think of the success of the Meatpacking District and Soho [neighborhoods in New York City]. People love the idea of being tied to something historic,” said Colin Kane, principal at The Peregrine Group, an East Providence real estate firm that has done work in the district.

Especially so as Boston is looking to brand the Seaport area (which itself is a manufactured place name) as the “Inovation District.” Boston’s Seaport is one of those places where there is no there there and Innovation District seems a suitable name for a placeless place. The Jewelry District sets itself apart as a place that already exists and has a history.

Boston Looks At Plans To Deal With Rising Ocean

Ideas to solve the problem include raising the entrances to the city’s subway and highway tunnels, moving electrical equipment out of downtown basements and onto roofs and zoning changes that discourage construction in high-risk areas.

Something we should probably be thinking about too.

Not from the Onion! Black Rock, CO bans bikes on some city streets

“If you go down Main Street there is not much room for a bicyclist, a bus or a car, a truck,” said Mike Copp, Black Hawk city manager. “We are trying to promote safety.”

The city manager said the casino owners knew about the law and support it.

Well, as long as the casino owners are aware and on board.

Reinventing the Parking Lot

Designing livable cities

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.


  • Brightly colored mural on elementary school = neighborhood in distress, huh?
    Makes me want to move there and dry my unmentionables on a strategically visible clothesline.

  • Seriously, what a shame.

    “It also replaces the stylized streetscape images of the original with a more pastoral scene centered by a leaping fox, in silhouette and framed by a sunset. ”

    I guess they couldn’t use rainbows or unicorns because they’re too brightly colored. I would have thought Fox Point had more class than that. This is to say nothing of what’s-his-face calling it “ghetto stuff.”

  • Providence’s “Knowledge District”; Connecticut’s 52-mile “Knowledge Corridor”; and Boston’s “Innovation District” are all forgettable and will typify a name fade from 2010. These “re-branding” names express desperation for reinvention and economic change that are pretentious, forced, and artificial, or even phony.

    As mentioned in the Projo article and comments the Jewelry District evokes a place that’s intriguing and historic, like New York’s Meatpacking District and both districts have evolved into something new and exciting though have an architectural link to their past that’s reflected in their names. Another example from New York, not very built-up as yet is Hudson Yards. The neighborhood’s name references an historic railroad past, but is planned to become the new location for the expansion of Midtown. The new environment will be that of a mixed-use central business district. The name will link this new repurposed place to the heritage of the city.

    The “Knowledge District” is a sanitized vague catch-all phase that’s attempting to cover all the bases when no one knows what game they’re playing. The new area really will be an extension of Downtown that will serve as the platform for “new” industries, whatever they might be or evolve to.

    The Jewelry District and Hospital District are two distinct neighborhoods. Though interconnected by uses and industries are physically divided by a wide river of traffic and that were developed during different periods, which are reflected in the scale and style of their architecture and street grids.

    The Jewelry District is known and not just to locals. It appears in tour guides, publications, and is even posted in Wikipedia. The “Knowledge District” is ironically unknown and would take a lot of public relations money to make it known. Keep the names of the Jewelry District and Hospital District as the identifiers for these two distinct neighborhoods that are effective extensions of Downtown Providence. If city officials and planners need a general term to describe this area for rezoning purposes, why not call it Downtown South.

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