In one way this city overlook represents the city’s first creation of a strategically located public open space. One can’t help wondering if Edmund Willson took his siting cue from this recently established vertiginous promenade. Land was subsequently added, but what we see now, aside from the twee fencing and benches installed in the late 1980s/early 1990s, is the powerful Depression-era arch and idealized statue of Roger Williams. A competition held to celebrate Rhode Island’s tri-centennial in 1936 selected Ralph Walker (of Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker) for the architectural setting and Leo Friedlander as sculptor. Walker’s original scheme, with monumental stairs approaching from Wheaton Street below, was unfortunately heavily scaled down, but Friedlander’s obtuse cubistic symbolic sculpture of Roger Williams was installed as originally realized.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture