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While it is unlikely that anyone reading this year’s City of Providence special section will have the opportunity to view Kennedy Plaza from the perspective represented on the cover, I’m guessing that from any level, it would be a great improvement on its current iteration.
Called the “front porch of City Hall,” it encompasses more than just what is directly across the street from Providence’s Beaux Arts gem. It includes Biltmore Park, Burnside Park, the Providence Rink at the Bank of America City Center and the area stretching all the way to the Federal Building and the U.S. Court House. Go there today and you are as likely to be overcome by bus fumes as anything else.
But city planners see this area, rightly, as the city’s most prominent public space, the one where visitors would begin their exploration of Providence, where office workers would love to extend their lunch hours, and where residents would take pride as they enjoyed the after-hours ambience and hung out. I’m thinking of Bryant Park in New York City, and so too did Union Studios Architects Senior Associate Joe Haskett in the story about plans for the plaza on Page 10. He also referenced the Tuileries Gardens in Paris as well, to which I have to say, “Joe, dial it back a little.”
There are other stories in this section, from an update on the city’s foreclosure situation – it’s improving if not solved – to efforts to help the disadvantaged gain an economic foothold, as well as a Q&A with the head of Lifespan on the efforts to re-imagine health care delivery for both better outcomes and lower costs.
So take a moment or two, sit down as if you were out in a re-energized Kennedy Plaza, and savor stories on a number of the interesting things happening in Rhode Island’s capital. It will be worth the effort.
Mark S. Murphy