City Plans and Studies
PPS Research Library
PPS maintains a library of plans and studies dating back to the 1960s. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a visit.
In addition to the resources we have here, several other neighboring institutions hold collections, maps, and photos that can be helpful in researching local historic properties.
Current City Plans
Innovation and Design District / I-195 Redevelopment District (site)
Capital Center Development District (PDF)
City Walk (site)
Broad Street (site)
Comprehensive Plan (PDF)
Zoning Ordinance (site)
Other Key Initiatives of Providence’s Planning Department (site)
Earlier City Plans
City of Providence, Rhode Island Comprehensive Plan 2000 (available at PPS research library)
I-195 Old Harbor Plan 1992 (available at PPS research library)
Blackstone River Park Master Plan (available at PPS research library)
Trinity Gateway Neighborhood Revitalization Plan (available at PPS research library)
Elmwood Neighborhood Revitalization Plan (available at PPS research library)
Mount Pleasant Business District Revitalization Plan (available at PPS research library)
Capital Center Project: Development Plan, May 1, 1979 (available at PPS research library)
Historic Preservation and Affordable Housing (PDF)
The College Hill Study
Online Exhibit: “The PPS Legacy: How the College Hill Study Saved Providence.”
In 1956, the Providence Preservation Society was founded by a group of concerned citizens in opposition to wide-scale demolition of historic structures within College Hill. In 1957, the Society partnered with the City of Providence to solicit federal funds for a study of the area.
In 1959, The College Hill Study of Historic Area Renewal was published, and became the first urban planning study in the country to use Urban Renewal Administration, Housing and Home finance Agency (now known as the Department of Housing and urban Development, or HUD) funds for the purposes of preservation. Beyond that, the study aimed “…to develop methods and techniques for a program of preservation, rehabilitation and renewal in a historic area which can serve as a guide for other areas with similar problems.”
Although 2/3 of the project was funded by HUD, nearly $20,000 (equivalent to $168,762.28 today) was raised by PPS. The Study surveyed over 300 acres and 1,700 individual buildings, eventually leading to the creation of a College Hill local historic district, and, in 1970, a National Historic Landmark District.
The College Hill Study showed that there is no inherent conflict between the growth of a city and historic preservation. Two of the main goals of the project were to “develop techniques for integrating areas of historic architecture into proposed redevelopment programs” and “demonstrate visually how contemporary architecture can successfully relate to existing historic architecture.” The “Renewal of College Hill” chapter showcases exactly that: restored colonial houses are interspersed with mid-century modern townhouses on wide pedestrian thoroughfares with ample greenspace.
An imagined view of a revitalized South Main Street, 1959
The study also stressed the importance of private investment and personal initiative to redevelop blighted properties. The restored houses seen today on north Benefit Street are testament to the success of the project.
Restored homes on Benefit Street. A PPS House Marker can be seen on 62 Benefit.
Below is a digitized copy of the second edition of the College Hill Study, published in 1967. The renderings of future development are featured in our online exhibit, “The PPS Legacy: How the College Hill Study Saved Providence.”
The College Hill Study of Historic Area Renewal, 2nd. Ed, 1967