The Crook Point Bascule Bridge is an object with a great deal of historic, cultural and artistic significance to the community. With the rail infrastructure in downtown Providence nearly erased, the Crook Point Bridge is a tangible reminder of the railroad network that shipped goods around the world, helping Providence achieve status as one of America’s wealthiest and most productive cities in the late 19th century. Further, its existence provides a link to the tradespeople who built the bridge, the tenders who ensured safe rail and water traffic, and others associated with it during its productive period. Their memories will be all but relegated to the archives if the bridge is demolished.
It is encouraging to hear that the City of Providence wants to preserve it as a landmark. However, that determination should be made only after careful consideration of safety, cost and function. Ideally, the bridge could be a performing asset again in the future.
Based on its age, it is potentially eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The RI Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission will make that determination of eligibility, upon request by the RI Department of Transportation.
PPS thinks it will be declared eligible, though that could change once further research is completed. In the meantime, because of the community’s attachment to it as an iconic symbol of Providence, it deserves a consideration of all of the options, including preservation in place, re-use, partial demolition, full demolition, etc.