- Waterplace Park and Providence Riverwalk
- South Water Street, Providence, RI
- Trailhead: 41°49’15.70″N, 71°24’17.55″W
- First Time Hiked: June 22, 2013
- Last Time Hiked:December 12, 2015
- Approximate distance hiked: 2.3 miles
Downtown Providence has a wealth of history and this walk will take you through some of that history. For this walk I started at the south end of the Riverwalk along South Water Street just by the former heliport pad. I then followed the Riverwalk northerly passing a plaque marking the site of the seaport that was once used for slave trade. Further ahead there is a spot to launch canoes and kayaks and just beyond that is the first of many sculptures along the river and surrounding area. I then crossed the pedestrian bridge at Crawford Street to the west side of the river. Looking south down the river you will see the Point Street Bridge, the triple towers of the Manchester Street Power Plant, as well as the bow string arch bridge locally known as the I-way Bridge, and the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier. I then turned left following the Riverwalk through the Irish Famine Memorial and the Remembrance Garden before following the walkway to its end. I then retraced my steps back to the pedestrian bridge and continued straight, crossing Crawford Street, then following the sidewalk along Memorial Boulevard that overlooks the river. At one time this area had the distinction of having the worlds widest bridge as most of the rivers were built over by roadways. A massive revitalization of downtown made the rivers the focal point and a center of art, culture, and memorials. After crossing Steeple Street I found my way down a set of stairs to walk along the river again into Waterplace Park. The walkway follows the river to the Basin. Along the way there are “black baskets” in the river. These are used for Waterfire. It is an event the takes place various weekends throughout the year when the river is “set on fire”. Along this stretch of river it is common to see gondola boats and sightseeing boats cruising through Waterplace Park. At the basin there is a walkway that goes under Memorial Boulevard to the old Union Station building. In this tunnel is the Wall Of Hope. It is a September 11th memorial that has taken permanent residence there and was to be relocated at a time in the past. I then made my around the basin. From here you can see some of the iconic buildings of downtown, both old and new. The sprawling Providence Place Mall, the white domed Rhode Island State House, the Biltmore Hotel with its famous red rooftop sign and glass elevator, the old Union Station, and the Industrial National Bank building (sometimes referred to by locals as the Superman building) to name a few. After circling the basin I made my way along the walkway passing the fairly new Waterplace Luxury Residences and the Citizens Bank Building. I then crossed Steeple Street once again and went down into a small section of walkway where the three downtown rivers meet. The river to your right (that you’ve been following) is the Woonasquatucket, the river to your left is the Moshassuck, and the river ahead of you is the beginning of the Providence River. To your right on the wall across the river you will notice a series of dates with a line at each. These mark how high the water rose during the hurricanes that flooded Providence in 1815, 1938, and 1954. The 1938 hurricane was the worst to hit the area with the 1954 hurricane being as close in power. In the early 1960’s the hurricane barrier was constructed and completed in 1966. The city has not flooded since even with significant hurricanes in 1985 (Gloria), 1991 (Bob), 2011 (Irene), and 2012 (Sandy). I then made my way over the Moshassuck and turned right onto the walkway (formally a section of Canal Street) pass some of the oldest buildings in the city. At the Old Market House there is another plaque showing the depth of hurricane flooding. This one you can stand next to. It puts it in perspective. The walkway then continues along the river passing the World War One, World War Two, and Korean War memorials. I then crossed South Water Street at Crawford back to the first section of the riverwalk and retraced my steps to the car.
There is no “trail map” of Waterplace Park, but here is a link with some info: Waterplace Park