Before/After: PVD 1976


Added photo sets 17 and 18, which are the only photo evidence I have found so far of the Drive-In theatre off North Main Street, where the Shaw’s Plaza is now.

We officially got permission from Mr Boersma to use his photos. Thanks!

about the project

Some time in 2008 I stumbled across a website for Jay Boersma. Apparently, he was a RISD graduate student who used Sunday mornings in Providence as his time to explore and work on his graduate portfolio. Originally from the Midwest, Jay was fascinated by Providence’s mix of older architecture than he was used to seeing, with more modern interpretations as the City tried to reinvent itself. The facts that New England still clung to its Puritan roots, banning shops to be open on Sundays, coupled with the long-standing overnight parking ban made Providence his “abandoned set on a movie studio back lot”.

So, whenever I find photos like this, I go about recreating them. Now, his photos are much better as photos... composition, color, contrast. They are really beautiful, without even mentioning the great old signs and modern embellishments that we have lost today. Mr. Boersma also had the advantage a 4x5 large format camera. This means that the planes of the lens and the negative are independent, allowing him to shew perspective and make tall buildings shoot straight up, while most cameras with smaller lenses bow buildings as they rise from the ground, bending them over your head. I did my best to use the trickery of Photoshop to correct these effects and stay as true to the original as I can. Still, I am not a profesional photographer with great equipment, so my exposures are sometimes off, or it was no longer possible to get to the same places he did to snap a photo (but I think I got pretty damn close). Enjoy!

For more of Jay’s work, please visit

Jeffrey Allcock Sep 16 2015 If this building is on Orange Street, I remember it as a very hot gay club in the early 198Os. There was a sit-down bar as you came in on the left, with a smallish but very busy dance floor on the right. Lots of fun! Today I think it’s almost entirely residential, but in its day it was one of the top gay bars in Providence, with the Mirabar, Fife and Drum and La Boheme and the Gallery.

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