This 1940 film tells the story of the removal of Seattle’s streetcars in favor of buses and trackless trolleys, rail to rubber. Flashforward 60 years and the city is putting streetcars back.
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 ProvidenceÃ¢â‚¬â€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.
The Providence Preservation Society Symposium, Make No Little Plans started today, and I was there, scribbling down notes. If you follow @gcpvd on Twitter then you caught some of it, and I’ll be Twittering again at the afternoon session.
The presentation was “By the Cask or Smaller Quantity: Providence’s Waterfront and the World the Merchant’s Made” by C. Morgan Grefe the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Historical Society. Ms. Grefe spoke about the period from Roger Williams’ settlement through the slave trading and China trade periods to just before the start of the Industrial Revolution.
I’m going to basically type my notes as scribbled down expanding what I can remember or my impressions as I can:
The City of Providence is truly honored to have secured the contributions of nearly two dozen area historians who have written topical essays covering the entire spectrum of the city’s 375-year history.
The essays cover topics such as Indian-White relations, the remarkable contribution of Roger Williams, the sometimes painful transformation from town to city, Providence as an industrial titan, the city’s significant architectural heritage, and its response to the Great Depression — among others. The series ends with an essay by Mayor Angel Taveras on his vision for the future of the city.
The essays will appear on this site periodically over the next several months. You can find links to the essays on this page. Enjoy reading about Providence’s amazing history through the lens of our local historians!
→ Fast 14 project an exciting demonstration of American innovation [USDOT Fast Lane Blog]
The challenge was tremendous; last summer gaping holes opened up in bridges along the crucial I-93 corridor near Boston. It was clear that the superstructure–the concrete decking and steel beams–of the aging bridges was failing and had to be replaced. Unfortunately, with conventional techniques, closing lanes to replace the 14 structurally deficient bridges on this primary commuter artery would likely tie Boston-area traffic in painful knots for four long years.
The Massachusetts DOT design-build team proposed to cut that four years down to 14 weeks by prefabricating the superstructure pieces off-site then quickly fitting them into position. Rather than close lanes for the weeks it would take to fabricate a bridge’s superstructure on-site, lane closures could be limited to weekends when the pre-fab superstructure could be lowered into place. Preparatory work, they suggested, could be done in advance without disrupting the flow of traffic.
Why isn’t everyone doing this?
→ Transit systems face across-the-board cuts, diminished funding stream under House bill [Transportation for America]
The House proposal contains scant information about public transportation, but by most indications, non-highway projects would have more difficulty receiving funding and prioritization compared to current law.
The outline did not explicitly call for maintaining the historic 20 percent share of Highway Trust Fund dollars for public transportation, though both Chairman Mica and Committee staff indicated verbally at a press conference that the 80/20 ratio would be preserved, albeit as part of a much smaller share of total dollars. Though even with the 20 percent share intact, the overall 35 percent cut would result in steep fare hikes, service cuts, job losses or some combination thereof.
See also: Federal transportation program slated for 35 percent spending cut in House bill [Transportation for America]
→ Some photos of RI (and New Bedford) in the ’30s and ’40s [WPRI | Ted Nesi]
Ted digs up some photos from Depression era Providence and New Bedford, including this one of Kennedy Plaza before it was Kennedy Plaza:
→ A Home Is a Lousy Investment [The Wall Street Journal]
At the risk of heaping more misery on the struggling residential property market, an analysis of home-price and ownership data for the last 30 years in California-the Golden State with notoriously golden property prices-indicates that the average single family house has never been a particularly stellar investment.
In a society increasingly concerned with providing for retirement security and housing affordability, this finding has large implications. It means that we have put excessive emphasis on owner-occupied housing for social objectives, mistakenly relied on homebuilding for economic stimulus, and fostered misconceptions about homeownership and financial independence. We’ve diverted capital from more productive investments and misallocated scarce public resources.
Check out this map posted in our Flickr Group by pdxcityscape:
Visit the Flickr Page to see a larger version.
That’s a plan for a streetcar system with central subway for Providence from 1914. pdxcityscape writes on Flickr:
Proposed Providence Subway Map – 1914
Imagine Providence now if this was built…
Around the time that the East Side Streetcar (now Bus) Tunnel opened was a plan to expand it into a larger streetcar subway system in Providence running west to Olneyville, east to Red Bridge/Seekonk River, north to the North Burial Ground on North Main and south to Broad and Elmwood. The four subway branch lines would consolidate onto a single main trunk line between Dorrance and Benefit Streets, streetcar lines would run in the subway tunnels in the core then emerge outside downtown to finish their routes on the surface. The proposal went nowhere in 1914, it reemerged in the 1920s but again went nowhere, then because automania had taken over and the focus was on building new wide streets.
From ‘Engineering News’ March 19, 1914 (available on Google Books: search “Providence Subway Olneyville”)
WHY DIDN’T WE DO THAT!!!?
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.’” (wpri.com)