Archive for November, 2013

Providence Harbor Walk – Providence

  • Providence Harbor Walk/India Point Park
  • India Street, Providence, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°49’2.13″N,  71°23’49.40″W
  • First Time Hiked: November 30, 2013
  • Last Time Hiked: June 18, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2 miles
  • Fairy Easy
 

Providence has been going through a metamorphosis for the last 25 or so years and much of the area described in this walk has seen most of that change in the last few years. In fact some of that change is still happening. With that being said the description for this walk starts from the Community Boating Center along India Street and heads west towards the I-way Bridge. The reason being is that small stretch along India Street passes through an area that hasn’t been redeveloped yet and is still somewhat of an eye-sore. After passing the Community Boating Center you will pass the remains of what was once a bustling nightclub and marina that closed long ago. Shortly after that is the Providence Steamboat property, home of several tugboats that assist large ships entering Narragansett Bay. Most times at least one of the several tugs are docked here. The walk then turns right onto Bridge Street and travels under the I-way Bridge. The 400 foot arch is 80 feet high and serves as an appealing entrance to the upper Providence River that carries Interstate 195 over it. The bridge was built in 2007 as part of a project that relocated a mile and half stretch of Interstate 195 just south of the city. From here, across the river and just south of the bridge is Collier Point Park. Just north of the I-way Bridge is the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier, the first of its kind built in the United States. The structure built in the 1960’s protects downtown Providence from storm surges. Two hurricanes in the 20th century, being in 1938 and 1954, inundated the city with several feet of water. The city has not flooded since. After passing through the hurricane barrier there is a small park to the left. Every Columbus Day weekend the Pronk parade concludes here and the festivities carry well into the night. Across the river is one of the most recognizable and photographed structures in Providence. The Manchester Street Power Plant, with its towering stacks, creates electricity using three large turbines fueled by natural gas. The portion of the building to the extreme right is part of the original structure that was once fueled by coal. The newer portion of the building was built in the 1990’s. For those of you interested in checking out the city from the river, stop by the dock just below the Hot Club deck. Here is the home of the Providence River Boat Company. Tours of the city leave here on an hourly basis on most days. If you need to wait, grab a burger and beer from the Hot Club. (Trust me!! They are good!). Also along this stretch of Bridge Street is Lola’s and the Whiskey Republic. Across the street is Corliss Landing, one of the oldest buildings in the area, now mostly apartments and offices. At the end of the street and to the left is the Point Street Bridge. It was built in 1927 and is a swing bridge. It last opened in 1959 as the upper Providence River was no longer used by larger vessels. This walk now turns right and heads away from the Point Street Bridge, first crossing South Water Street and then South Main Street before turning right onto Benefit Street. This large open area was where Interstate 195 once snaked through the city. Some of the parcels are put aside for parks and others are slowly being redeveloped. After following a small section of Benefit Street a short bike path lies ahead. To the left is the backside of the Holy Rosary Church, another of Providences predominant structures. The short bike path starts a curve to the left keeping the South Main Street exit to the right and a small grassy area with artistic sculptures to the left. The bike path soon ends at the sidewalk of George M. Cohan Boulevard. This now fairly quiet street once served as the main through-way from the Point Street Bridge to points east. It was named after the playwright, composer and producer who was born in Providence. The 1942 Academy award winning film Yankee Doodle Dandy depicts his life. Following the sidewalk for a few hundred feet slightly uphill you soon come to the India Point Park Bridge. Turning right here you now cross the Interstate before entering the park. From the bridge you have good views of the upper reaches of Narragansett Bay. India Point Park has an interesting history of its own. It once served as a seaport, a crossroads, and lastly a metal scrap yard before becoming a waterfront park in the 1970’s. After crossing the footbridge, turn to the left and follow the paved footpath. It comes close to India Street before turning away from the street. You will find an interesting sculpture here of yesteryear. Next you will come to the entrance of the East Bay Bike Path. If you so choose, the bike path takes you up onto the Washington Bridge for a sweeping view of the Seekonk River below. After passing the entrance of the bike path continue straight and then stay to the left of the playground. At the next footpath turn right and follow it to the end. This will lead you to one of the least known, but most important historical sites in Rhode Island. This is where the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, first step foot in Providence in 1636. He would later travel around India Point and Fox Point and then up the Providence River where he would found Providence. The path now turns south following the Seekonk River. In this area, over time, were several river crossings including a covered drawbridge that was built in 1793. All that remains today (other than the existing Washington Bridge) is the remnants of the India Point Railroad Bridge on the East Providence shoreline. This area of the park was at one time a rail yard. In fact the first railroad station built in Providence was built here. The remainder of this walk follows the shore of the river, passing the playground once again, before coming to a large wooden dock. This area once served as a seaport for larger vessels that couldn’t make it to the docks closer to downtown. Near the conclusion of this walk is a newer dock. It it is used primarily by recreational fishermen. You will find several informational boards throughout the park further explaining the vast history of this area.

Trail map can be found at: Providence Harbor Walk

Urban Skyline at India Point

Urban Skyline at India Point