Think you know a place? Welcome to our occasional feature, in which one local curates their quintessential Providence experience. For this second edition, we asked Osman Cortave about what charming landscapes and architectural wonders make Providence, Providence.
About our Featured Wanderer
Osman Cortave emigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala. He was raised in East Boston and has lived in Providence for the last five years. We noticed him attending random planning meetings, so we knew right away he was interested in the city. When we asked him to name five places he loves, he told us that he thinks “a lot about the excitement and curiosity we feel when we travel to different places, and I try to bring similar a similar enthusiasm to everyday life. I believe walking and exploring is empowering; it helps us build community, it’s essential to our mental and physical health, and overall, it makes us happier and more fulfilled. I think Providence, with its rich history and culture, is such a fun city to explore, and there’s no better way to do it than on foot!”
Mary Elizabeth Sharpe Park, College Hill
A hidden passage connecting beautiful Benefit st to Pratt St, the garden feels like a mini escape. It’s short, but full of wonderful greenery and flowers. It’s an unexpected trail that makes your stroll around this historic neighborhood feel more like an adventure. (You can learn more about Mary Elizabeth Sharpe here.)
Pratt Street in Providence’s College Hill is one of my favorite streets and one I find myself taking as a usual route. Pratt Street features a diverse mix of architecture in just a few blocks. You’ll see traditional historic architecture like colonials, mansard roofs, working class multi-family styles like the “triple decker”, townhouse developments, and some the city’s most interesting modern homes, all set atop of a hill with some stunning views! The street almost feels like walking through a timeline or an architecture testing ground. The street’s southern portion could use some sidewalks, but due to its residential nature and very low car traffic, it almost feels like a “shared-street”, which makes it unexpectedly pleasant to walk and bike.
Billy Taylor Park, Mt. Hope
Neighborhood parks are a staple of every community; they’re where childhood memories are created, and they shape our character and keep us healthy! Growing up I would spend hours at my local park in East Boston, playing basketball and hanging out with friends. Today, I find myself walking by Billy Taylor Park often, located in the Mt. Hope Neighborhood. It’s a beautiful park that just “screams” community. There aren’t many places where such a diverse set of activities can all happen at once. When the weather is nice you can find parents with their kids at the playground or the splash park, people skating, residents tending their gardens, and several basketball games happening all at once. You can enter through its main entrance on Camp Street or the pedestrian overpass over Cypress Street, or a sort-of hidden cut-through on Knowles street. I guess it’s symbolic that a great park would have these physical extensions into the neighborhood. (Learn more about the park’s namesake here.)
Luongo Square, Federal Hill
Small squares and pocket parks are sometimes overlooked due to their small size, but their community impacts are invaluable. Luongo Square, surrounded by interesting houses and some of Providence’s coolest businesses, invites residents and visitors to take a seat and “take in” the neighborhood. Recently renovated by local community groups, Luongo square shows us that we can trade in oversized asphalt and few parking spots for beautiful community spaces. Check out its Google street view from a few years back and get inspired to push for some more cool squares in your neighborhood!
1 Sims Avenue and surrounding Valley Arts District
I’m a huge fan of old industrial buildings, they’re strong and gritty, but always engaging the street with their large windows and doors. This area is doing an amazing job bringing new life to these historic structures.1 Sims Avenue building has the perfect large door to photograph (from the Kinsley Avenue side), along with some cool businesses to visit. Also, it’s always fun to see what funky things The Steel Yard has on its grounds! Best thing is, you can take it all in while enjoying a nice cocktail at local distillery ISCO’s beautiful space!
All photos by Osman Cortave