Greater City Providence

If I were the Mayor…


If I were Mayor of Providence, and all the other mayors were coming to visit I would show them the following 10 sites (in no particular order), providing I was in a good mood:

  1. The gardens at South Side Community Land Trust:
    SCLT, helping residents grow food for over 20 years is easily one of the greatest things Providence has to offer. Nestled over in what used to be some of the worst housing in Providence, SCLT helped other non profit housing organization make Upper South Providence a very nice place to live and garden. And SCLT is reaching out to other neighborhoods across the city as more and more residents find value in growing their own food. And not just that, but they have a farm, where Providence residence can eek out a living growing food for others. What is not to love about that? Plus, they have chickens!
  2. Pancakes at Nick’s on Broadway:
    Nick’s is one of those magical urban stories. Local boy goes to college, stays in town, works his way up in restaurants to become a superstar, opens his own tiny place in a neighborhood not known for its restaurants but keeps the original name, even though his name isn’t Nick, buys a house in the same neighborhood, expands the restaurant even farther from downtown… See also: Julian’s (also on Broadway), and The Red Fez (historic parking lot district downtown.) It is the local stuff that makes Providence special, not the Cheesecake Factories and the Fleming Steakhouses.
  3. The lower tree farm at Roger Williams Park
    It is not a place you can really tell someone how to get to, except to say that you walk away from the parking lot of the Botanic Garden and head toward the water. It is a quiet, magical little piece of the park where in the spring you can be overrun with fuzzy yellow goslings. See also: The Steps of the Temple To Music at dusk, or early in the morning. You can almost hear the Shakespeare that used to be performed there 60+ years ago when people used the park for more than just charity walk-a-thons.
  4. The top floor of the Sciences Library at Brown University
    One of the best views of Providence and the east side.
  5. WaterFire
    Of course.
  6. The Steel Yard
    Who would have thought that you could make a community non-profit organization out of an old steelyard, and have it continue to BE a steelyard?
  7. The lawn of the State House
    If you are on those white alabaster steps of the statehouse and you look toward Downcity, the lawn just rolls you out to the city like an elegant green carpet. If you stand at the bottom of the lawn and look up to the statehouse, you are looking at one of the most beautiful state government buildings in the entire country, where, if you didn’t know better, important laws were being passed every day. So either way you look it is a win. Just don’t look at the side from Smith Street with the gigantic wide street and the mostly dead, puny trees. Can you imagine how it would look with some 30 year old lindens, or elms lining Smith Street? Elegant, that’s how. So, don’t go around the statehouse. Stay on the downcity side.
  8. The Corner of Cooke and George Streets
    Quiet, and cool and green and clean. I always wanted to live here. It wasn’t the big houses full of wealthy people, it was the calmness of this spot that was appealing to me. Every Providence resident should have clean, cool, green and quiet as part of their neighborhood–not exclusively but at least as options.
  9. Pastiche
    Hands down, the best damn carrot cake in all of cakedom. See also: white almond cake from Scialo Brothers Bakery and Zuppi Inglase from LaSalle Bakery.

But, you say, What if I were an angry Mayor? Where would I take all the other mayors to show them a bad time? 10, in no particular order:

  1. Grove Street School
  2. The Old Public Safety Building Memorial Parking Lot
    See Also: The Gulf Station Memorial Parking Lot, the Grants Lot Parking Lot, the Sierra Suites Parking Lot, the 110 Westminster Parking Lot, the America Street School Memorial Parking Lot…
  3. The old Fruit and Produce Warehouse
  4. The Speed Bumps in Roger Williams Park
  5. The corner of Waterman and Hope Streets
    Where one of the largest Copper Beech trees in the city once stood. Now it is a parking lot.
  6. The India Point Park Bridge Bridge
  7. Shooters
  8. Any sidewalk outside of Downcity between December and March

Sharp eyed readers will notice I promised 10 of each, but only provided 9. The 10th item in each section is up to you. Where are you taking your mayor friends to show them the best of Providence, and where are you taking your mayor friends to show them the worst of Providence?

Jen Cole


  • Best:
    10. Brown St Park
    11. Prospect Park
    12. The Cool Jungle Gym at India Point Park
    13. East Side Pockets on Thayer
    14. Aspara on Hope

    10. Kennedy Plaza Around 3:30pm
    11. Downcity’s Pine St. around 11:30pm, anyday
    12. Tent City

  • Brilliant post.

    best – Prospect Park (and throw in Music Mansion)
    and if any apsara is on the list make it the original Apsara, Public St.

    Worst – West Broadway Elementary School
    Sears, N. Main St, Historic Shaws Plaza

  • best:
    another props for prospect park

    the new stretch of 195 E at exit 2

  • Andrew: Yes on your Worst options. I can’t believe I didn’t add those in, especially Shaws at Eagle Square. I must have emotionally blacked that one out. And Yes on Apsara on Public. It is probably the first restaurant that ever got me off the East Side (or Federal Hill) 20 + years ago. Apsara is to be credited, I think with making that side of Providence decidedly less scary to a lot of people. There was a running joke that it was on the Brown University meal plan.

    and as much as I like Prospect Park, the graffiti problems there there made it not be one of the best places in Providence for me.

    I am curious why other posters mentioned what they did–why no explanation why Brown St Park, or East Side Pockets is so important to the success of Providence?

  • Best – AS220. I think it explains itself, but I don’t think Empire St would be quite what it is without it.

    Worst – “off-roading” down Dean St (or insert almost any other street). Again, it’s pretty self explanatory.

  • Best: Any Farmer’s market.

    Worst: Emmett Square or the Intersection of Valley St and Plsnt Valley Pkwy.

    Or I would just take them for a drive through the city (on or bike or in a car- doesn’t matter) so they could get a taste of the State’s Finest Driving Skills and the general discomfort of trying to move through this place safely and without being a spectacle (as one would be on foot.)

  • mm..

    East side pockets has really good falafels. Thats kind of the end of my reasoning. And when isnt it packed? haha.. Dont take that too seriously.

    Most of my suggestions are more light hearted.

    Oh man I need to get over to Public street, I cant believe Ive never been to that Aspara. epic fail.

    Brown St Park is pretty cool. I think it has a nice little community touch and is welcoming to all.

    YES to AS220.

  • Best: Providence Public Library Main Branch

    Worst: Providence Public Library Board Room

    I used to be so proud of our library system. My current feelings veer toward sad.

  • I’m with Jack on the library. I have been all over, and have always felt that the Central Library was the best library ever (and I lived in Portland, OR!) and now I am just ashamed of it.

    Another Great Thing About Providence: Triggs and Button Hole. I don’t play golf, but having a public golf course in the city limits where people can learn to play golf (Button Hole has a youth program) is the cat’s pajamas.

Providence, RI
6:14 am5:40 pm EDT
Feels like: 41°F
Wind: 11mph NE
Humidity: 85%
Pressure: 30.41"Hg
UV index: 0
50°F / 46°F
55°F / 43°F
46°F / 34°F