Share This

The 23 properties on this tour were built from 1960. Click on a map marker to see the property name, then click the name to see more. Or, scroll down to see a gallery of all properties. Click any photo to learn more.

Scott Fitzgerald was only partly right, at least in the instance of Providence, when he said there were no successful second acts in America. In trying to reinvent itself beginning in the second half of the twentieth century, Providence, like most cities of its age after World War II, succumbed to the lures of federal funding to redevelop its innermost precincts. Unlike its most obvious neighbors, New Haven and Hartford, Providence was unwilling or – more likely – unable to eviscerate itself so brutally. Providence’s inner city redevelopment is worthy of consideration for the still-changing attitudes toward urban development that characterize each of its phases, beginning in the mid-1950s.

These five tours are arranged in roughly chronological order to provide a sense of the changing nature of development. The first, West River and Randall Square, conflated by physical proximity, includes a 1950s planned removal-and-replacement district with an area cleared by conflagration in the late 1960s. The second, Weybosset Hill, at the west end of today’s Downtown Providence, highlights the urban-renewal attitudes of 1950s planning as then promulgated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The third, University Heights, tells an interesting story of an early and only partially successful attempt to replace old buildings but save a community. The fourth area, South Main Street, is a fascinating blend of new construction and the preservation of historic buildings, an architecturally mixed-success area all the more intriguing for this. Capital Center, the ongoing and continually contentious reworking of the city’s new heart, presents the most recent thinking – usually muddled, always market driven, and only occasionally cogent – about what a modern city should be. The valediction of redevelopment, however, is College Hill, fully visited earlier in this guide. Never before had a community undertaken the restoration of its earliest precinct on such a large scale. While Providence usually box-stepped to the redevelopment rhythm in the mid-twentieth century, and tried to tango in its Capital Center, its greatest and most influential fandango is the revitalization of College Hill, a landmark achievement of inner-city urban renewal.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.