Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lovecraft's Providence: Crawford Street Bridge, Part 1

Back in HPL's day, the city’s three rivers [1] were completely covered by the massive Crawford Street Bridge. The original bridge was built in the 1890s, and it was expanded progressively over the next 30 years to provide more space downtown for roads, trolleys, and parking.

By 1930, the rivers lay hidden under the world’s widest bridge — a slab of concrete 1,147 feet wide, barely recognizable as anything other than a roadway or parking lot.

That's the way Lovecraft would know it - years of road construction to bury the river beneath concrete. He passed in 1937.

Beginning in 1982, a redevelopment project reclaimed part of the waterfront to build Waterplace Park, an outdoor amphitheater and public gathering place. [2] In later phases, city planners redirected the three rivers, removed the concrete decking, and built seven new bridges.

The last piece of decking over the Providence River was removed in October 1995, exposing the waterways in downtown Providence for the first time in a century.

One wonders if HPL would be pleased. I think so. He was an advocate of preserving the past. Though he loathed (unlike Derleth who admired) Thoreau, HPL certainly loved the woods, hiking, and biking. I think he would have been an advocate of preserving nature and integrating with nature to rpeserve biodiversity.

1 The rivers are Woonasquatucket and Moshasseck which join at Washington Street in the heart of the city to make the Providence River.

2 Providence is like most major American cities in reclaiming the river or lake fronts to make them pedestrian and commerce malls. Chrispy has seen where Indianapolis, Cincinnatti, Nashville, and now Louisville (my home town) has taken old railroad or obslolete auto bridges and made them pedestrian pedways, and $ millions spent to remove sand dredgers, junkyards, and other eyesores to landscape with grass and playgrounds and restaraunts.

(Part 2, a scene from HPL's teen years of Crawford Street Bridge)

1 comment:

Michelle said...


For some reason this sets my mind awash with dank mysteries, the crawling spawn of subterranean rivers...


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