Tag Archives | Culture

Joyriders vs. Jaywalkers: U.Va.’s Peter Norton Examines a Collision of Cultures

In 1909, “jaywalker” was an obscure Midwestern colloquial term that referred to a country hick in the city who got in the way of other pedestrians. But with the rise of the automobile, people connected with the auto industry used “jaywalker” to mean a pedestrian who crosses the street against regulations.

“Most people living in cities didn’t think fast cars belonged in streets,” Norton said. “So when cars hit pedestrians, it was always the driver’s fault. Angry city residents wrote letters to their newspapers denouncing ‘joy riders’ and ‘speed demons.’ But some people wanted to give cars a rightful claim to street space. The word ‘jaywalker’ was one way to do this. By casting doubt on pedestrians’ place in the street, it strengthened cars’ claim to street space. Making streets places for cars took not just regulations and devices such as traffic lights — language was also part of the struggle.”

Related to the discussion here.


Inspired Providence Lecture Series

Inspired Providence

Inspired Providence
A Fall Lecture Series Celebrating 375 Years of Providence History
Thursdays, Sept. 29 through Nov. 10
6pm • Free
See below for locations

PROVIDENCE, RI – Roger Williams National Memorial is pleased to present Inspired Providence—a fall lecture series celebrating Providence’s rich cultural heritage from Roger Williams’ “lively experiment” in 1636 to the rise of a “Creative Capital.” Seven evenings of civic discourse and lively debate will take place between September 29th and November 10th at cultural institutions across the city. Each free lecture will begin at 6 pm and is open to the public.

The series, part of the larger Celebrate Providence 375 Years commemoration, kicks off Thursday, September 29th at 6pm at Roger Williams National Memorial. On this opening night, park ranger and local historian John McNiff will examine and discuss the beliefs of Roger Williams and how they were echoed in a truly revolutionary document, the United States Constitution, more than 100 years after Williams’ death.

Each subsequent talk will take on a distinct moment in Rhode Island history from the emergence of Rhode Island’s first portable restaurants in the 19th century, to the Hardscrabble race riot of 1824, to an architectural competition that forever changed the face of the East Side. The series also includes a special family program at the Providence Children’s Museum with storyteller Len Cabral, a public discussion moderated by “Action Speaks” host Marc Levitt, and a presentation of the Latino Oral History Project led by Marta Martinez.

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Providence 375 May Events

May Events

Live Bait: True Stories By Real People
May 6, 10pm
Perishable Theatre • 95 Empire Street • $5

Senator Pell Lecture on Arts & Humanities
May 9, 6pm
Trinity Repertory Company • 201 Washington Street • Free – RSVP Required
Providence Art Culture + Tourism

FirstWorks Presents: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
May 10, 7:30pm
Providence Performing Arts Center • 282 Weybosset Street • $30 – $68

Rhythm & Rebellion: A Meet & Greet
May 12, 6pm – 8pm
Roots Café • 275 Westminster Street • Free

3rd Annual St. Antonio Parade
May 15, 1pm
Line-up At The Vartan Gregorian School • East Street • Free

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Alissa Graham: Providence Independence Trail

Prospect Park

This post was originally posted on Alissa Graham’s blog, Alissa: Adventurer and is reproduced here with permission.

Yesterday, May 4th 2011, Rhode Island’s Govenor Chaffee and Providence Mayor Tavares unveiled the “Independence Trail.” This three mile, downtown Providence trail will “feature 75 sites ranging from a place where George Washington slept to a statue of Civil War General Ambrose Burnside, whose distinctive facial hair coined the word ‘sideburns.’” (

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Capital Ideas: Planning Providence 1636-2020, May 4

Capital Ideas: Planning Providence
May 04, 2011 – June 22, 2011
Providence City Hall Gallery, 2nd Floor
25 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI 02903
Opening Reception and program: May 4 • 5-7pm
Exhibit Times: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Can you imagine zipping around downtown on a monorail train? Rowing a boat in front of the State House? Driving on a freeway soaring above the canal? At one time, these incredible ideas were proposed for our city.

Capital Ideas: Planning Providence” commemorates the history of Providence by presenting design plans drawn from the City Archives. View proposals for never-built projects and imagine the places in Providence that might have been.

What kind of Providence would you design?

Exhibition Opening Event Details
The opening event in City Hall is an all-ages exhibition opening with programming that includes a talk from the City Hall archivist, Paul Campbell, as well as poster-making; visitors will create the imaginary Providence that they would like to see realized. These posters will be laminated and displayed at the Roger Williams National Memorial to serve as a monument to the 375th.


News & Notes

→ I want to bike and walk but… [Coalition for Transportation Choices]

For Earth Day 2010, CTC member Audubon Society of RI challenged students grades 3 – 12 to respond to the lead-in “I want to bike and walk but…”

The students addressed their essays, poems or raps to their town’s mayor and submitted their work individually or had it selected by teachers from 27 classrooms in 19 municipalities. The students wrote about barriers encountered in walking or bicycling to school or visiting family and friends and suggested solutions.

→ City exploring slimmer, trimmer roads [Chicago Tribune]

Like a bulging waistline, Chicago streets have gotten fat over the years, growing wider from curb to curb to handle more vehicles.

With that additional girth, traffic-related dangers have expanded, too, especially for pedestrians and transit riders trying to cross busy streets and bicyclists sharing the road with cars and trucks. Sidewalks, meanwhile, often have been narrowed to accommodate more traffic lanes.

The unfortunate upshot is that the high priority placed on accommodating vehicles over other forms of transportation has in many cases backfired.

→ Do urbanists hate the automobile? Not this one []

But for me driving is a little like chocolate. It’s a wonderful indulgence that is easily overdone. When everyone drives a lot, things get out of hand: traffic congestion, air pollution, storm-water runoff, oil spills, greenhouse-gas emissions, oil dependence, foreign-policy complications that sometimes lead to wars, sprawled development, redundant infrastructure, drive-through lifestyles that lead to bad nutrition and obesity — all of these things can be laid, at least partially, on our need and desire to drive excessively.

→ Better Transit, Even on the Cheap, Doesn’t Always Come Easy [The TransportPolitic]

With the rise of bus rapid transit and the increasing movement for better bicycling facilities have come a new form of community protest — a sense of indignation among some members of the affected areas about abandoning parts of the road they they had once assumed were to be entirely reserved for cars. From New York to Berkeley to Eugene, places more typically known for their liberal politics are becoming battle grounds over the right and wrong ways to use the street.

→ Case Studies of Latino New Urbanism: San Ysidro [The City Fix]

They are places that are layered and altered from the ground up, as opposed to being single-use and organized. James Rojas, an urban transportation planner, describes “Latino New Urbanism” as the sort of place that “derives its character” not from “structures, codes and designs” but from the way Latinos have transformed and adapted American suburban or urban environments to fit the needs of their communities.

→ Streetcars vs. Monorails [Slate]

So the future we thought we were going to get somehow seems antiquated, while the past looks increasingly, well, futuristic. Why is the trolley ascendant as the monorail declines?

→ Flood [City of Sound]

An extensive account of the Brisbane flood from someone on the ground.


Park Series starts tonight

PARK SERIES is Providence’s FREE Waterfront Music Series in the newly designed India Point Park!

This event is part of the “Celebrate Providence!” Neighborhood Performing Arts Series and is presented and sponsored by the City of Providence, David N. Cicilline, Mayor, the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, the Parks Department and Friends of India Point Park.

Bring your dancing shoes, a blanket or a boat and enjoy a cold beer tent and the hottest House, New Orleans Bounce & Dubstep DJs as well as Live Bands in India Point Park!!

Thursdays August 12th, 19th & 26th 5-10pm
Park Series on Facebook

Who Is Playing?
Micah Jackson (Aug 26th)
DJ Full Frequency (Aug 26th)
Extraordinary Rendition Band (Street Marching Band) (Aug 26th)
Raw Lip (Aug 19th)
Riff Parade (Aug 19th)
DJ Bees Knees (New Orleans Bounce) (Aug 19th)
Thirsty Sounds (Aug 12, 19 & 26)
DJ Lively Experiment (Aug 12, 19 & 26)

What else is Going On?

  • A Providence Food Truck Meet-Up and Tweet Up is running concurrently with Park Series.
  • Trinity Beer Tent will be on the pier!!
  • Boaters and kayakers are welcome and can tie up on the main pier where the stage will be.
  • Wooly Fair Decompression August 26th!! Feeling fully woolied from Wooly Fair but want some more?? Us too! Bring your costume back and come on down to India Point Park to decompress, reminisce and bring back your wooly dream state.

StreetFilms at COP15

Tens of thousands of people from nearly every nation on earth have descended on Copenhagen this month for the UN climate summit. As the delegates try to piece together a framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they’re also absorbing lessons from one of the world’s leading cities in sustainable transportation. In Copenhagen, fully 37 percent of commute trips are made by bike, and mode share among city residents alone is even higher.

Come see “the busiest bicycling street in the Western world”, and lots of other you-gotta-see-them-to-believe-them features including bike counters (featuring digital readouts), LEDS, double bike lanes (for passing) and giant hot pink cars.

Copenhagen wasn’t always such a bicycling haven. It took many years of investment in bike infrastructure to reclaim streets from more polluting, less sustainable modes. Last week, I was able to squeeze in a whirl-wind tour with Mikael Colville-Andersen, the bike culture evangelist behind Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic, to get a taste of the city’s impressive bike network and cycling amenities. Watch this video and see how Copenhageners flock to the streets by bike even in December, when average temperatures hover just above freezing.