Greater City Providence

News & Notes

Public Seating Beyond Parks and Playgrounds [Urban Design Week]

We’ve all been there: exhausted, hot, annoyed, and just looking for a seat! With over eight million people calling New York City home, finding a place to sit outside of parks and playgrounds can be a bigger challenge than one might imagine. Megan in Clinton Hill wishes there were places to sit in public space besides in parks: free, public resting spots on every block for a coffee, lunch, and conversation. Ultimately, she wants the city to be “more free and open to all! Not limited to only people who eat at outdoor cafes, etc.”

More and more this is how I feel about Downcity. You can sit at Grant’s Lot, and you can sit at the tables at Burnside Park, that’s about it.

The 1950s Called, and They Want Their Transportation Bill Back [AltTransport]

What costs $230 billion and shortchanges pedestrian and bicycle safety and already cash-strapped urban transit systems? If you guessed the new transportation reauthorization proposal from the GOP-led House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, you’d be right.

Are States an Anachronism? [Urbanophile]

Obviously states aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but a number of folks have suggested that state’s aren’t just obsolete, they are downright pernicious in their effects on local economies.

One principal exponent of this point of view is Richard Longworth, who has written about it extensively in his book “Caught in the Middle” and elsewhere. Here’s what he has to say on the topic:

In the global era, states are simply too weak and too divided to provide for the welfare of their citizens… The reason is a deep, intractable problem. Midwestern states make no sense as units of government. Most Midwestern states don’t really hang together – politically, economically, or socially. In truth, these states and their governments are incompetent to deal with twenty-first century problems because of their history, rooted in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Americans support higher gas taxes when they see tangible results [Trasportation for America]

It’s become a rule of thumb that those in Washington who currently hold office oppose raising the gas tax, while those out of office – or on their way out the door – almost unanimously support it. Why is this? Elected officials read the polls, and the polls keep saying a higher gas tax is a political loser.

Case closed, right? Not exactly.

Queens Plaza Protected Cycletrack is Open for Business [Streetfilms]

I used to commute through here daily, first on the N/W when I lived in Astoria, then the 7 when I lived in Flushing. I can remember looking down at what at the time was all concrete and wind blown trash, and seeing the potential. My imagination couldn’t produce this though. It is like a woodland trail through the heart of Queens Plaza. It is crazy and beautiful and I want it.

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.


  • Is the lack of public seating related to the rise in homelessness that we saw in the 80’s? Cities didn’t want to see people sleeping on public benches so they got rid of them. (I have no source for this, just a hazy memory).
    Saratoga Springs, NY installed some benches along their main street – but they originally installed them facing the street – no one wanted to sit and stare at parked cars. I believe this has since been rectified and the benches face in to the shops so those sitting can watch the people go by. Then they had a “problem” with teenagers hanging out on the benches too long.
    Cambridge, MA has benches in Central Square – perpendicular to the street. Often occupied by the homeless. Not a bad place to rest for a few minutes if you can find a clean one.

  • oh, wow! thanks for posting the queens plaza cycletrack! I rode my bike over the queensboro bridge all the time when I lived in Astoria. It was always kind of terrifying to get dumped into the center of Queens plaza so I am glad (and super jealous!) to hear about the improvements.

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