Providence Aerial circa 1975

Labelled landmarks:

  • Blue Ribbon Beef, demolished late 70s/80s
  • Roger Williams National Memorial, one of the 20th smallest national parks in the nation, authorized in 1965 and built late 70s (source: Wikipedia).
  • URI College of Nursing, downtown (demolished when?)
  • Union Station raised railroad structures, removed in the late 70s, but still present in this photo
  • Bonanza bus station, built 1963 and demolished in the mid-to-late 90s to make way for the RI Convention Center and Westin hotel.
  • The former circular Gulf Station, built in 1968 and demolished in the mid 2000s
  • Recently built: Fogarty Building, 1968; Textron Tower, 1972; One Financial Plaza, 1973
  • Not present (not constructed yet): 50 Kennedy Plaza (Fleet building), 1985; One Citizens Plaza, 1990; 15 La Salle Square (former Blue Cross, now Hasbro); The 6/10 Connector into Providence and directly connecting to interstate 95 was built in 1988, though Route 10 was constructed starting in 1953 (source: Wikipedia).
  • Interesting to note, in the distance behind downtown, South Street Power station still has its smokestack. The station was decommissioned in 1995

I place the image at 1975-76 because of the two towers that have been built (to the left of the Industrial Trust), the lack of the Fleet building (1985) and the presence of the railroad tracks behind Union Station, removed in the late 70s. If anyone knows when the college of nursing was demolished, that could help date this photo as well.

This photo makes me remember the vast wasteland that existed between the State House and Downtown. That large swathe of parking lot and railroad tracks really makes the City look like a down-and-out post-industrial town.

The Story

I happened to be in the office of Darrow Everett, LLP, closing on some refinance paperwork. They sat me in a conference room to wait, and on the floor, leaning up against the wall was this large photograph. Really large, probably 24" by 36". The more I looked at it, the more I realized that this particular snapshot in time was not one that I had seen before. I started to try to narrow down when the photo was taken based on the buildings that were still standing, and which ones had not yet been built. Before I got lost in the details, I snapped some photos with my phone to come back and piece it all together later.

Kevin May 21 2019 When the Biltmore reopened in 1979 it had installed it’s glass elevator. I can’t quite make out if it is there or not in the photo.

Dave Hall Mar 28 2018 I can remember parking in the lots across from the old train station and walking to the Civic Center for a concert and having to walk through those old tunnels like under the tracks, Very dark and dank and dirty back then in the 70's. Great memories though!

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