Think you know a place? We’re highlighting places that define a quintessential Providence experience for residents of the Creative Capital. In this edition, we asked Jessica David about what charming landscapes and architectural wonders make Providence, Providence.
About our Featured Wanderer
Jessica David has spent 20 years working at the intersection of people, place, and money. She delights in human connections, local places, problem-solving, and Bruce Springsteen. She recently founded Local Return, a new nonprofit dedicated to building community wealth and resilience, particularly in neighborhoods that have experienced historical disinvestment. As founder and principal of Good Worth Working For, a community consultancy, she supports organizations and leaders on strategy and changeprocesses, program design, large and small convenings, and culture-building.
Previously, Jessica served as Executive Vice President of Strategy & Community Investments at the Rhode Island Foundation. She spent several years early in her career working on homelessness, affordable housing, and community development.
Along with the fabulous team at What Cheer Writers Club, Jessica stewards the Dear Rhode Island community letter exchange. She received a BA from American University and an MBA from Bryant University.
Providence Public Library
Oh, libraries. All libraries! Providence Public Library is my home library. There’s so much to understand from the architecture of the building itself and the people who visit. The most recent renovations are gorgeous, particularly the new windows and snazzy entryway.
Is it the overhead twinkly lights? The alleyways between dignified buildings? The cobblestones that peek out occasionally? Westminster Street is charming, particularly when the flower baskets are thriving and sidewalk tables are filled. My favorite stop on the street is this quiet public park across from Grace Church.
North Burial Ground
The North Burial Ground offers it all: history, memory, greenspace, and the WPA. It hosts the graves of a veritable who’s who of famous, infamous, and everyday Rhode Islanders including Moses Brown, veterans of the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (an all African American volunteer regiment that served during the Civil War), and members of the Goddard and Hopkins families. There are some stunning gravestones and monuments throughout the grounds. My favorite spot, though, is this scratch of land in the back corner reserved for residents of the Home for Aged Colored Women, founded by Christiana Carteaux Bannister in 1890.
Temple to Music, Roger Williams Park
I could do a top ten list for Roger Williams Park alone, as there are so many special places in the Park. My favorite experience, hands down, has been attending community events at the Temple to Music. There’s nothing like the magic that comes with hanging out with thousands of neighbors as the moon rises over the lake.
Point Street Bridge
I love bridges. The Point Street Bridge is my favorite, because you can look to the I-195 Bridge, Michael Van Leesten Pedestrian Bridge, power plant smokestacks, and Narragansett Bay. Plus, it’s gritty, busy, and noisy, and just minutes away from home.
Italian bakeries were a staple of my childhood, and I still get warm and fuzzy feelings at the sight of a bakery box. Scialo’s is the ultimate, though. Just look at that sign! And you enter into a cozy cocoon of drool-worthy smells and treats. I love visiting for cupcakes, Italian bread, or zeppoles — or even just to check out the window display. Thank you, Scialo’s, for reopening!