This park takes its name from maritime activity that linked Providence with the Far East beginning in the late eighteenth century from the park’s eastern tip. Today’s landscaped park was intensely developed into the twentieth century with wharves, ships’ provisioners, and light industrial use; a hint of its history may be understood by a glance at Fox Point to the west end of the park. The decline in shipping activity suggested reclaiming the area for recreational use in the early 1960s, and planning continued for most of the rest of that decade. Landscape architect Albert Veri provided the plans, and development was significantly aided by local landscape advocate Mary Elizabeth Sharpe (84 & 87 Prospect Street). The area’s disjunction with the rest of the East Side caused by the construction of Interstate 195 in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before the park’s conception or realization, is poorly mitigated by the pedestrian walkway over the thoroughfare; it remains a destination usually achieved by automobile, necessitating more land dedicated to parking than desirable. But its significance extends far beyond its bounds, for it was here that Providence began to rediscover its waterfront and develop attitudes that significantly transformed the city in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture