Greater City Providence

Let’s Name the Hope St. Shopping Area!

seven-starsThe Providence Business News has an excellent article with Nanda Head, the new organizer of the merchant’s association for the Hope Street shopes near the Rochambeau intersection. She says they would like to turn the strip into a retail destination (like Wayland Square or Wickenden) and she speaks truth when she states that the overall feel and flavor of the street is a bit “sad.”

She also seems to suggest that they may brand the area “Hope Street Center.” I, personally, really dislike that idea which seems inspired, perhaps, by the Massachusetts communities’ “Centers” like Newton Center.

First, for better or worse, Hope Street doesn’t impart positive impressions in most people’s minds and Hope St Center sounds a bit municipal. This isn’t like drawing prestige from Fifth Avenue or Newbury Street. Also, this retail section of Hope Street is quite small and doesn’t cover the road’s entire length, which could lead to some confusion.

Let’s all help them out. Let’s give them some suggestions for naming the Hope Street shopping area. I myself like the idea of using the Summit name, as it isn’t well known, it’s grounded in the neighborhood, and the term is upward looking. I also like the “Lippitt” name, drawing on the nearby park. So my suggestions are:

  • Summit Square/Summit Center
  • Lippitt Square/Lippitt Center

What are your ideas? Post them in the comments section and I’ll email all of the suggestions to the merchant’s association once we have them in!

Bret Ancowitz


  • Well, if they wanted to be like Newton then they’d have to call themselves Hope Street Centre, ‘cos they’s all anglified up in Newton.

    I like Summit Square or Summit Corners.

    I agree, using Hope Street is problematic, there’s a nice section of Hope Street down by Wickenden, the section where Rue is, and one could easily think they’d arrived at “Hope Street Center” there (and be disappointed that so much fuss was made about it, since that section is not much besides Rue).

  • I’ve also heard it called Hope Village and I must confess to liking the ‘x Village’ construction better than ‘y Square’ or ‘z Center’. That said, it doesn’t really get to Jef’s issue that Hope St. passes through a number of different neighborhoods.

    Since the neighborhood is called Summit (see, I agree that it makes the most sense.

    How about ‘Summit Village’?

  • I always thought that it was called Hope Village as well. I actually think “X Center” (or worse, Centre) is very Massachusetts…

    I like Hope Village better than Summit Village only because I’d love to see there be an actual Summit Village centered on North Main.

  • I’ve been told that Hope Village, as a term, is something of a real estate creation and not a single person I’ve talked outside of urbanism/neighborhood group/real estate circles seems to know it. Villages, traditionally, are usually their own municipality in some fashion as well, which of course this isn’t… As above, I don’t love using the Hope term either… I agree that any future Summit Village should be North Main Street…

    That area has never felt particularly village-esque to me either… “Corner,” as a term, feels a bit small and rural to me… every ___ Corner I’ve visited has had, like, 4 buildings…

    I think calling it a “Square” would fit best with the existing Wayland Square… In fact, I’d love to see all of the East Side neighborhoods “squared…” Wayland Square, Summit Square, Thayer Square (centered at a redone Brown Bookstore), and Wickenden Square (centered at the future redo of Wickenden when it becomes Point St).

    The idea of Squirrel Hill is interesting… I wish that area was as nice as the retail area of Squirrel Hill! But given the Oak Hill area of Pawtucket nearby, Summit Hill or Lippitt Hill might not be bad…

    Keep the suggestions coming!

  • Indeed “village” as I know it is a larger geographic portion of a town. Where I come from on the Cape, the town of Barnstable is divided into 7 distinct villages whose areas cover the entire geography of the town in 7 pieces. Within those larger villages are smaller villages, for example Craigville is a smaller village within Centerville, and Cummaquid is a smaller village within Barnstable Village.

    Some villages have areas which are referred to as “Downtown”, Hyannis and Osterville having Downtowns. Cotuit’s center is often called Cotuit Village, which sounds redundant, but Cotuit has a Cotuit Highlands, and a Cotuit Village within the Village of Cotuit. “Cotuit Village” would correspond to what the Hope Street Center area is, a small crossroads with limited shops, a post office, a library, and a small museum (much smaller scale than Hope).

    Centerville has a Four Corners which is a sort of center for the village (historically), and it indeed has simply a hotel, a world famous ice cream store, and a small building with a few offices and transient retail. Back in Newton, there is Newton Corner, which has a Sheraton, lots of offices, some retail, and is a major bus connection. Newton Corner straddles the Pike and is sadly rather lost as a place as it has mostly been given over to the automobile. Here in Lil’ Rhody we have Six Corners in East Providence, sadly another area which has been turned over to the auto.

    Maybe we aren’t looking far enough in history, focusing on Hope and Summit. Anyone know if there is an Indian name for this hill? A pre-colonial name?

  • My issue with calling it a square is that a square usually has multiple streets, like an intersection. Wayland Sq. has the intersection of Wayland, Angell, South Angel and has more of a square “look” to it. Hope is just a couple blocks on Hope St. with “stuff” only on Hope and not much on the side streets except homes.

    I’ve heard village refer to lots of different things, from parts of towns to small little retail districts (like this one).

    A pre-colonial term would be fun.

  • That neighborhood, technically, is called Mt Hope, if I remember correctly, bordering on Blackstone neighborhood. I do not think that there is a neighborhood that is called Summit, just like the Armory is not a real neighborhood.

    So, my vote would be to call it Mt Hope somethingorother.

    I am not a fan of centre or center, since it isn’t really the center or centre of anything specific. How about something catch regarding from this street to that street, like SoHo? I think the little retaily area starts right around Rochambeau (although i think it really starts at the Liberry?) and ends where Hope St becomes East?

    Hm, what about Hope East, with Hope West being where it hits Wickendon Street?

  • Also, Summit Hill is kind of a double something. Ie., a Summit is already at the top of a hill. And i didn’t mean to imply that both Summit and Armory aren’t real neighborhoods, but that they are not recognized as official areas of the city. Or have I already forgotten the neighborhoods in the 10 months I’ve been gone? It is certainly possible.

  • I like Hope East. It’s a long sreet, so that helps orient. It isn’t much of a traditional square, like Wayland or LaSalle, so Hope East works for me.

  • Hum… Most people think of Hope St as being a North-South connector… Sticking West/East on it gives me a headache evening thinking about it…

    Following Jen’s idea, North Hope (NoHo) might work better and would be more geographically correct, while South Hope (i.e. Wickenden) would become our SoHo…

    With apologies to whoever suggested it, I’m now formally against Summit Village, which sounds like a nursing home…

    Keep the suggestions coming!

  • I like the idea of North Hope and South Hope. Unfortunately, I will always think of it as Hope Village.

    Jen, you are correct about the neighborhoods. Summit is like the Armory and not technically a recognized neighborhood.

  • SuHo

    Summit/Hope, or a prostitute named Sue.

    Actually I really hate those trendy contraction names. Boston has SoWa (South of Washington Street, which is actually one of those is it north/south or east/west areas, since our New England street grids are anything but) and LaDi for the Ladder District, which is somewhere in Chinatown and thankfully never stuck. Someone once tried to tell me that Downcity was ProDo, I almost threw up.

    I was thinking last night, Upper Hope, but I’m not really liking that either.

  • Bret, your absolutely right. I was thinking “east” because of the proximity of the shopping area to East Ave in comparison to {W}ickeden Street. But to be geographically correct, I change my vote to Hope North. I think it would be tremendously a copy cat move to call it North Hope (NoHo), however. This isn’t New York, we need to come up with our own names and their contractions.

  • I heard someone suggest it be called something along the lines of “Sevenstarsia.”

  • I believe it should reflect location and looks, to avoid confusing people and help them find it. So, it should include the word Hope, since is on Hope Street, and everyone knows what/where that is – except that it is so long.

    It has, for some reason, a Villagey feeling to me, and is not really a center or a square. So, maybe North Hope Village?

  • What??? It’s already Hope Village. That’s a sweet name, connoting community, quaintness, safety, commerce, and lots of other good things; why change it?

    I know there is no official geographic or municipal designation “Hope Village,” but it’s been used already and many people know exactly what/where it refers to. All this north, south, east, west stuff is ridic, IMO.

    Save “Hope Village”!

  • Sorry, but I don’t like village either. A village is also home to people, which we have, but that is not what this is about. It’s about naming a merchant area, right?

    What about a completely new name?? Like in memory of someone?
    How about the Sandgren Ridge, after Jan Sandgren who unfortunately passed away while crossing Hope Street, just a little more than a year ago.

    And Hope Street IS a ridge, especially along between 6th and Doyle.

    I suspect not many will go for this, but I can always try, and maybe this will jog some ideas in another direction. Sorry, but to me all this other stuff all sounds too contrived and cutesy to me.

  • Since the neighborhood to the East of the district in question is called Blackstone, why not use that in the name? Summit makes sense to those of us who live here, but if the goal is to market a destination shopping area, doesn’t Blackstone have more pull?

    Blackstone Village
    Blackstone Square
    Blackstone Commons

    Or, if we want to stretch things a bit:
    Boulevard Commons, etc.

    Otherwise, I’d stick with Summit something. Hope is right out IMHO and based on the overwhelming majority of posts before mine.

    Also, I think marketing it as a destination is wise. I enjoy having such a vibrant shopping district steps from my door and realize that we need outsiders to help support it. I can put up with a few cars parked in front of my house to support the Hope St. businesses.

  • Sorry, but anything with “Hope” in it sounds like a contrived name for something like a nursing home. Likewise “hill” or “ridge.” “…Centre” or “…Center” or “…Corner” aren’t much better. Ideally, a single-word monicker would have more punch. “Summit,” since it is a locally popular, but not official, neighborhood name has a lot of appeal. We used to refer to the area by referencing the Cinerama theater, which stood on what is now CVS parking lot. Calling an area by what USED to be there is a Rhode Island tradition we might acknowledge. I think referencing Miriam is a tacit green light for their expansion in that direction.

  • The Miriam bit was a joke. 😉

    What exactly is Summit? Is there someone who has a definition of it? Much like the Armory District, I wonder if it is a bit amorphous depending on who you ask.

    Speaking of Armory District, does any think something District would be good. It would go with Armory District and Jewelry District (and Parking Lot District).

  • i don’t like anything “cutsie” like village. the area you’re referring to is in the Summit Neighborhood, so i’d use that reference. NO ONE knows where Lippitt Park is so i’d definitely leave that out of it. even the people who go there don’t know it’s name and it’s also further down that the area we’re talking about.

  • The “Hope Village” moniker was coined a couple years back by speculators desperate to flip old 2-families into 3-unit condos before the bubble burst. Coming from that quarter, the name felt about as rooted in cultural reality as “Emerald Square Mall.” Moreover, they were trying to rename the Summit residential area, not just the commercial zone.

    With the condo craze cooled, I agree the idea of branding what we in Summit now call “Hope Street” (meaning just our little part of it) is something practical and free we can do to help recent improvements to the area stick.

    The “Village” tag works well, too. Think of Greenwich Village, Pawtuxet Village. I support “Summit Village,” which builds on the growing identity for Summit as the neighborhood at the northern end of Hope. In my understanding, the “Village” would just be the commercial stretch, while “Summit” would be the roughly walking distance radius around it.

    “Summit” is more specific than Hope, and builds on existing brand equity in the Summit name. A revived historic or Native name would face an uphill struggle for recognition and acceptance: Lippitt, Dexter and Rochambeau would tend to confuse at first and a Native name is likely to get blank looks, I’m guessing.

    The new Merchant’s Association needs to be behind whatever name is adopted, but so do the neighbors they rely on. Maybe the Merchants and Summit Neighbohood Association could cooperate on some market research?

  • Instead of superficial branding, let’s spend time trying to figure out how to keep the shops that are there. Many of the stores seem to fail within the first year or so. It’s a miracle that there are so many shops open there right now, considering we’re living in the Bush/Carcieri Depression.

    Let’s call it “Frog and Toadville”. Best. Store. Ever.

  • BV: I don’t see the branding as superficial, in fact I think it works towards your goal of stabilizing the retail area. As Jeff C points out, more people from outside the neighborhood need to be drawn in to help support the merchants. A recognizable brand will help draw in those shoppers.

  • I agree with Jon that the Merchants Assoc as well as the residents need to be behind whatever name is adopted, but I think this discussion is a good exercise to see if any suggestions come up that might stick.

    Like Bret said in his initial post, we can pass along any suggestions.

    Keep the suggestions coming! Even if they’re silly, they might fuel someone else’s brainstorm.

  • Ultimateanswerville

    You know, because Route 42 is the Hope Street bus.

    Too esoteric?

  • Hello all,

    On behalf of the Hope Street Merchants Association, I would like to thank you all for your interest and suggestions on the new Hope Street Name. Bret came into my store this past week and gave me this website to view some of your feedback. Thank you Bret!! I think it is FANTASTIC that you all want to be a part of the naming of Hope Street! The residents that surround the Hope Street area play such an important part in the success of all of the merchants on Hope St. With that said, I am absolutely thrilled with all of the feedback that i see on this blog. I have printed it all, and plan on reading most of the suggestions and feedback at the next merchant meeting in January. You should start to see some local cooperative advertising in the next few months in your local papers. You will then find out what the new Hope Street name will be!

    Happy Holidays to you all and again, thanks for all of the great feedback!


  • “Hope Village” is catching on somewhat, despite the taint from those condo speculators Jon attributes it to.

    The one in Scituate is plain old “Hope,” “Village” there being an unnecessary appendage.

    I have heard people omit the wince-inducing “Artiste” part and call the big mill conversion on Main Street in Pawtucket “Hope Village.” Uh oh.

    How about “Hope Summit?”

  • I’d vote for Summit Square.

    Has the same feel as Wayland Square, Harvard Square, Central Square, etc. I like that it’s named for a real street, even if it doesn’t cross Hope. Also the people in the neighborhood do think of it as Summit and there’s the active Summit Neighborhood Association.

    Too bad no one voted on the building in Pawtucket that got named “Hope Artiste Village” (1005 Main St. Pawtucket) I just don’t know how you can put a village into a building, even if it’s a really large one. But maybe with an “e” on Artist, it gives you the license to create your own village? I think “Hope Artists Center” would make more sense, but too late for now. At least they are trying to make it successful with a winter market and everything. Maybe the excitement will spread down N. Main St.

  • I think the Hope Artiste peeps are using the it takes a… definition of village:

    1. a community of people smaller than a town

    Of course the hope part comes from the building’s prior name. The Artiste part is just silly.

  • I could revive a really old in-joke (so old I can’t remember who I stole it from) and suggest “Hope Rep.”

  • Hi Nanda,

    Thank you for checking out our site! It was a pleasure meeting you this weekend during the blizzard. I hope you had a good retail day!

    My final vote is: Summit Square

    I think “square” fits the best since it builds on the Providence motif of squares like Wayland and reinforces the East Side idea of squares being destination locations for retail. Branding “Summit Square” would probably help Wayland Square in that way as well. The Hope/Rochambeau layout of the church/library/shops fits the idea of a square quite well and, with a few well targeted municipal improvements (sidewalk reconfiguring, benches, planters, signage, some decorative fences near the gas stations, etc), this could feel very “square” like…

    As already pointed out, branding is critical to help those Hope shops survive since few outside the neighborhood know they are there and I’ve many times had to explain with difficulty to folks where to meet me (when many think of Hope and retail/dining, they think of the section much closer to Wickenden).

    I agree with Jon that Hope Village, created as it was by the real estate industry to foster a fake neighborhood image, is particularly distasteful. I too have heard people refer to the Hope Artiste Village as “Hope Village.” I went to an artists Open House recently and someone kept describing their co-op as being in Hope Village, and I said, “Oh, that would be great for the neighborhood” and they gave me a funny look, and then the person got it and said, “Oh, no, the Hope MILL village”… Ick…

    The idea of using the Blackstone name is interesting, given the close proximity, and I’ll have to think about it, but it doesn’t feel localizing enough on first glance…

    I still don’t like “Village” as, having grown up near multiple real small villages, that retail strip of Hope feels nothing like one to me (there’s no public gathering or civic spaces, usually essential to the village moniker to me). “District” is interesting, but I usually view that as industrial, like “meat packing district” or “garment district” (Seven Stars District?).

    So, again, my vote: “Summit Square”

  • I guess I am confused as to why we are changing the name. Isn’t this area already referred to as Hope Village? When we bought our home several years ago the real estate listing described our neighborhood as being near “Hope Village”. Real estate listings continue to refer to this area as “Hope Village”. I too want to encourage people to shop locally and support our local merchants, which my partner and I continually do and encourage friends and neighbors to do. I don’t think the name of this area is the issue – sustaining local economies is so much bigger than a name. If only it were that simple. So why are we changing the name? The area has a name. Seems a bit pretentious to me. Just my two cents. Thanks.

  • Summit doesn’t cross Hope does it? So how can it be Summit Square? I mean, forgetting for a moment that there are no actual “squares” along Hope Street, the fact that there isn’t even a Summit/Hope intersection, makes it tricky to call the strip of Hope Street Summit anything!

  • Maybe some of the Summit folks can clarify this? I mean Summit, as a neighborhood, doesn’t “formally” exist, and technically I think has Hope St as its eastern boundry (Blackstone neighborhood is farther east).

    Most people who know the neighborhoods would probably consider the Hope St retail area to be part of the Summit neighborhood. I always have…

    The real estate folks created the “Hope Village” name because they realized that the area there needed some other definition because, the reality is, it isn’t Blackstone most people picture of the Blvd and isn’t Mount Hope, it’s something different. Thus Hope Village… I think since Summit already fits, why not use it? My guess is that if the retail businesses used it and it got pushed for general usage, the real estate folks would jump on that in a heartbeat since they’ve wanted a differentiating term all along…

    Regarding the term “Square,” nothing in Providence fits the European definition (an open public space surrounded by shops and with a central fountain or statue). Here in the US it is generally applied to a commercial area formed around the intersection of several streets. While Wayland would qualify (Market wouldn’t), the Hope Street area does have a major intersection at Hope and Rochambeau with several other intersecting streets, and again, this is about marketing/branding.

  • I used to live off Elmgrove near Wayland Square. Whenever I said I was “going to Hope Street” people knew exactly where I was going, that is, up to the Rochambeau part of Hope Street. The area was a destination before there were “destinations.” Now I live in the Summit neighborhood and I say, “Shall we have lunch on Hope Street?” “I’m going to Hope Street to do some shopping.” 40 years later and the identification is still working. Let’s keep a little city cool; we don’t need to charm-up the label as if “Hope Street” were no-where’s-ville in need of a gloss of urban energy, or of village charm for that matter. And if some people know this area as something else, “Hope Village,” for example, well, to me that seems very Providence.

  • You know, just because a term was coined by a bunch of real estate folks trying to make an area more attractive doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used. The problem with using “square” is that none of the retail really exists south of Rochambeau. Not to mention it’s a grid pattern up there without the intersection of several streets.

    As Hope Village has been catching on, why not stick with that? Why go and change something that already works? Sure, it’s cutesy and a bit contrived, but even if it were to change, most people will still call it Hope Village (or perhaps go the RI route and say the area that used to be called Hope Village).

  • I was curious about whether the “Hope Village” name had any basis in a historical settlement here. So I went to John Hutchins Cady’s The Civic and Architectural Development of Providence, and this is what I learned: In 1807 certain early highways were identified by name, including Hope Street, which was originally known as the Highway at the Head of the Lots. (However, that street, like the early lots, ran only as far north as Olney Street).
    Then in 1825, a street was created that extended north to the Pawtucket line, this was called East Turnpike . It is now known as Hope Street and East Avenue. (As I understand it, the two sections of Hope Street –the 1807 Hope Street and what had been the Turnpike were connected in the late 19th century when the section of Hope Street between Barnes and Olney was shifted to the east).
    Throughout most of the 19th century the street we know as Rochambeau was actually Harrington’s Lane. An 1850 map shows a toll both at the junction of East Turnpike and Harrington’s Lane. The same map shows no settlement or street grid north of Harrington’s Lane.
    Not until 1895 or thereabouts was Harrington’s Lane renamed Rochambeau after the comte de… By then the area north of Rochambeau seems to have been developed. A map of 1899 shows 9 streets running off to the east of Hope Street and 11 to the west north of Rochambeau.
    In 1905 Hope Street was widened from the Pawtucket line to Rochambeau from 40 feet to 60 feet to conform to the width of Hope Street south of Rochambeau. An electric car line ran down the street at one time.
    This little collection of facts indicates to me that there was no village here, but rather that the stretch that I think of as “Hope Street”, where the shops are, was a thoroughfare, to either side of which city neighborhoods grew up as the city expanded northwards in the 19th century. For some time, it seems, Rochambeau or rather Harrington’s Lane, marked the north end of settlement. (With more research the dates of the farms north of Rochambeau could be documented. Certainly there were farms here by the 1870’s.)
    I heard somewhere that Hope Street actually overlays an old trail that had been in use before the first immigrants arrived. Given swamps to the east and a fall off of land to the west that would make sense.

  • As others have said, the commercial node near Rochambeau has long been called just Hope St. It was always clear years ago if you said you were going shopping on Hope St. that you were going there. The area near the Rue would have been called Fox Point or near Wickenden. Why it’s not clear anymore is an interesting question.

    For the sake of continuity, it would be nice to leave Hope in the name as long as it’s not Hope Village which is most definitely a recent and cutesy name cooked up by realtors. On the other hand, Rochambeau Square doesn’t sound bad. Sounds better than Hope Square, doesn’t it?

    The problem with calling it Summit (defined as the Hope neighborhood) is that the Summit neighborhood is only one of the surrounding areas. It’s Blackstone to the east and Mt. Hope to the southwest. Maybe Mt. Blacksummit? (Just kidding.)

  • The issue of why referring to “Hope St” doesn’t automatically have people thinking of northern Hope might be because of how Wickenden and Fox Point have come back to a certain degree and how college-centric that area is. People’s center of gravity for Hope may have shifted south, especially with the successful and popular Rue, Sawaddee, Guidos, and the little convenience mart there. I’m sure there are many who live in Fox Point who may never have even been up to the Hope Shops. I mean, if you’re a random, single 26 year old living near Ives and Wickenden, why would you ever go to Hope and Rochambeau for anything save for Apsara Palace takeout? What is there and compelling?

    For some reason I never considered using the Rochambeau name… It certainly has history. I’ll have to think about that.

  • When I lived here, we just always said that we lived “off Hope.”

    My understanding was that Summit was north of Rochambeau and Mt. Hope was south of Rochambeau to Olney. Per HP Lovecraft, Mt. Hope was known as Stampers Hill and was an African-American neighborhood since way back. e. g., any sense that it’s fact not fiction?

    Now as to the sadness and lack of cool stuff, heh? I’m way past 26, so maybe I don’t know what’s cool, but that was the greatest neighborhood I ever lived in.

    I generally associate it with food. Hope St pizza is really good and they have the little bar now. Pizzico is world-class showing up in Wine Spectator and other big lists. 729 is a cool hangout, though I found the food uneven. 7 Stars, nuf said. Blaze is modern cuisine with a gay women’s angle.

    I find the Ivy Tap guy sub-optimal in both service and mathematics (calculating bills), but the local public house serves a critical function in a walkable neighborhood – which this is in spades. I’d often walk down to get something to eat with no real idea of exactly where I’d go.

    If they’re going to build around their strength to create a destination, they need to continue to build the number and quality of restaurant and pubs. But if they want to really integrate into the urban community, they need to make it more of a complete thought.

    What it really lacked the whole time was a little grocery, like a Star Market in NYC.

    If they’re thinking standard-style development with people driving cars from points unknown to shop, eat and leave, it will seriously degrade the local neighborhood feeling of the place.

    Carefully done, they could achieve both aims – be a destination and a “place”.

    [ps. If you want to send a good message to the neighborhood, you’ll get on the right side of the CVS sign issue. In addition to being erected, signs can be taken down. It’s a true science fact.]

  • Real estate listings call it Hope Street Village which I think sounds fine. Hope Street Center sounds like a shopping mall.

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