Cover Photography by Richard Benjamin

Cover Photography by Richard Benjamin

Rebirth of a Post-Industrial City

By Gene Bunnell

Paperback (6 x 9), $24
202 pages
100+ color photographs & illustrations

Pub. Date: February 2017
ISBN: 978-1-61468-372-8


Countless American cities saw their economies hollowed out and devastated by deindustrialization and losses of major sources of industrial employment during the second half of the Twentieth Century. Decades later, many are still struggling to recover. 

One post-industrial city that hasn’t continued to languish is Providence, Rhode Island, which has succeeded in making itself an increasingly appealing place to live, work and visit.  Providence’s transformation didn’t come about by chance.  Rather, it came about as a direct result of a series of local planning processes and plans, as well as strategic decisions and policy choices aimed at reviving the city’s downtown core and improving the livability of the city’s neighborhoods. By identifying and carefully describing the approaches, decisions and actions that propelled Providence’s turnaround, Gene Bunnell’s Transforming Providence provides lessons and insights citizens, local officials and business leaders elsewhere can apply to achieve positive transformations in their own cities.

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Introduction: Attributes of a Good Place to Live
Chapter One: History and Background
    A City Severed by Rail Lines and Interstate Highways
Chapter Two: Saving a Neighborhood—The First Step in Saving the City
    The Way College Hill Used to Be
    The impact of the College Hill Plan
    Reconciling Neighborhood and Institutional Interests
    College Hill Today
Chapter Three: Preservation Efforts Expand to Neighborhoods Beyond
   Establishing the Neighborhood Revolving Fund
Chapter Four: Downtown Hits Bottom
    The 1961 Downtown Plan
    The 1974 Interface Providence Plan
    Vincent A. Cianci, Jr. Enters the Picture
    The Providence Foundation
Chapter Five: Northeast Railroad Corridor Relocation and Capital Center Project
    Uncovering and Relocating the Rivers
    An Exceptional Setting for Waterfire
Chapter Six: Developing Capital Center
    Variety of Land Uses Accommodated
    Providence Convention Center
    Providence Place Mall
    Design and Appearance of Providence Place Mall
    Positive Synergies of the Convention Center, Convention Center Hotel and Providence Place
    Direct and Indirect Impacts of the Capital Center Project
    Capital Center Controversy Concerning Surface Parking
Chapter Seven: Downtown Turns the Corner
    Andres Duany’s 1991 Charrette
    Making Downtown Redevelopment Financially Feasible
    State and Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits
    The Downtown Revolving Loan Fund
    Nurturing Ground Floor Commercial Activity
    Impacts of the Downtown Revolving Fund
    An Organization of Artists Enriches Downtown
Chapter Eight: Relocating Interstate 195—and Stitching the Downtown Area Back Together
    The 1992 Old Harbor Plan
    The 1999 Jewelry District Concept Plan
    Andres Duany Returns to Providence: The 2004 Charrette
    The 2008 Jewelry District/Old Harbor Planning Framework Study
    The I-195 Commission
    The 2012 Providence Downtown and Knowledge District Plan
    Revised Zoning
    Long-Envisioned Riverfront Park Nearly Derailed by Proposed Ballpark
    The Huge Task of Relocating a Major Section of Interstate Highway
    Developing the Knowledge District: A Work in Progress
Chapter Nine: Creating a More Transit-Oriented, Pedestrian-Friendly Downtown
    Railroad Station Expansion and Transit Hub
    Re-Imagining Kennedy Plaza
    Kennedy Plaza and the “Superman Building”
Chapter Ten: Factors Contributing to Beneficial Outcomes
    A Large and Varied Cast of Contributors
    Non-Profit Organizations
    Enterprise and Success in Obtaining Foundation Support
    Urban Planners and Designers
    City-State Relations
    Stars in Alignment
Chapter Eleven: What Other Post-Industrial Cities Can Learn from Providence
    Preserve Historic and Architecturally Significant Buildings and Districts
    Create an Entity Similar to the Providence Foundation to Provide Private Sector Leadership
    Think Long-Range and Aim High
    Envision Possible Futures
    Analyze and Compare Alternatives
    Keep Chipping Away and Making Incremental Progress
    Make Good Use of Outside Experts, Speakers and Consultants
    Embrace and Apply the Principles of New Urbanism
    Ensure High Quality Architecture and Urban Design
    A Final Comment
Appendix I: Timeline and Chronology
Appendix II; Honor Roll of Local Heroes (far from complete)
Appendix III: Mayors of Providence, 1951-2016
Appendix IV: Governors of Rhode Island, 1951-2016
Appendix V: Executive Directors of the Providence Foundation