Greater City Providence

Temporary uses for the 195 Land – your ideas


Photo blatantly stolen from Betaspring’s Facebook Page.

Two of my Facebook friends/pages-I-like posted photos of themselves recreating on the 195 Land during this week’s crazy heat wave. The above photo shows people from Betaspring playing a game of wiffle ball on the 195 Land next to their offices on Chestnut Street.

Bad economy or no, redeveloping the land left behind by the relocation of Route 195 is going to take years, decades even. So, unlike the lots in Capital Center behind Citizens which have been turned over to parking, we should be finding good temporary uses for the land.

Right now most of the land is just seeded, we’ll see as spring turns to summer if anyone maintains that grass and if pick-up games of wiffle ball will still be an option. If past is prologue, then I don’t have very much confidence that this grass will be mowed and that trash will be cleared, etc.

So the question is, what would we like to see as temporary uses on the 195 Land? Some of it can certainly just be grass that sits there and is hopefully cared for, we’re not going to have active uses on all the avaialable parcels. But what uses could we bring to the land? Which parcels should those uses live on? How can temporary uses be moved as they are (hopefully) displaced by development? And, how can we make it clear that these are indeed temporary uses, how can we avert the cries to save something that people have grown fond of, but was never meant to be permanent (the “park” which people cried was being taken away to build GTECH for example)?

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.


  • I think it’s exciting. We have all this potentially beautiful park space to use. Here’s a few ideas. Picnics, public art displays, frisbee, kickball, relay races, suntanning, football, soccer, book reading, writing, homework–the possibilities are endless…

    I’m in the current stages of planning a flash-mob picnic day, when people can come down and occupy the space in whatever manner they please… Would we get arrested? It’s our land. Let’s use it.

  • The Mama Kim food truck will be at the Brown Med School on Tuesdays starting in April. That would be a good opportunity to get people using the adjacent 195 Land.

  • Would love to see music festivals, concerts, pickup games, traveling amusements, flee markets, a petting zoo… perhaps some ways the 195 commission could make some well needed revenue – the worlds largest bake sale, anyone? I’m always down for some blondies. Always.


    The perfect beer garden is under mature shade trees. But local talent can, I am sure, devise an attention getting low cost structures to provide airy shade. Add pea stone, picnic tables and some shackitecture to house the kegs, wieners, clamcakes and chowda.

    I can’t wait.

  • I always have have a hard time finding parking downtown. Could the land be paved and then stripped for free, convenient parking?

    Just kidding. Maybe a general aviation runway? We could have an urban airshow.

  • Seems to me the best plan would be to let this land gestate at a slow pace.It won’t take decades.Not anymore.This district will no doubt be viable within 5 years.
    The speed of the Iway build &demolition has been off the charts.Providence will rise to this one.All you folks who are stuck in Doorley drive,stand by.

  • According to Providence Business News, the 195 commission cut down the designated park land, allowing for development of the parcels along the river for condos and restaurants….

    On the topic of temporary uses for the land:

    “…Temporary use of the remaining parcels is not likely due to a lack of funds. Options such as athletic fields or raised-bed community gardens have been considered but dismissed.

    “But we are open to suggestions because the property could sit vacant for a while,” Kelly said. (PBN)

    I wonder, how “open” they are to suggestions, and what the criteria would be for approving uses?

  • BTW, the city/state/commission can pretty much bank on a lawsuit of some sort if land that was supposed to be for public access to the water suddenly becomes private, and restricted.

  • why were raised garden beds dismissed? seems a good idea so long as clean soil is used, as what is there is quite likely seriously contaminated. I would be open to a flashmob event, so please keep me informed. I just biked around there today and it was beautiful!

  • One temporary use of the land would be as concert grounds at night. There is no need to build big fixed structures plus this expanse of land will hold a great number of audience. That’s definitely another profit for the city.

  • half a dozen?
    whoopie pies
    catnip toys
    peanut butter cups
    water balloons

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