Then and Now: Jay Boersma 1975-76 to 2008

A photo recreation series of a RISD student portfolio taken in 1975 and 1976 — recreated in 2008

About this Property

The Photos

  1. Photos 1a and 1b: Orange Street at Pine Street
  2. Photos 2a and 2b: Memorial Boulevard from College Street bridge looking down Westminster Street
  3. Photos 3a and 3b: Pine Street around the back of Capriccio’s
  4. Photos 4a and 4b: Delta Street, the back of what is now Knead Donuts
  5. Photos 5a and 5b: Halls Building, 49 Weybosset Street
  6. Photos 6a and 6b: 73-75 Weybosset Street, former Providence Eyewear building
  7. Photos 7a and 7b: Exchange Building, 65 Westminster Street
  8. Photos 8a and 8b: Westminster Street with Arcade — former Providence National Bank, Mee Hong’s restaurant, and First Federal Bank
  9. Photos 9a and 9b: Shakespeare Hall, 130 Dorrance Street from the parking lot off Clifford Street
  10. Photos 10a and 10b: Looking down Eddy Street from Pine Street, the 1897 Masonic Temple on the left and the former Outlet parking garage on right
  11. Photos 11a and 11b: Looking at the Case Mead building from a small alley aside the Providence Gas building (Providence G). This view can not be reproduced anymore because the alley has become part of the interior of the Teste Block.
  12. Photos 12a and 12b: View up Weybosset Street from the square where it meets Westminster Street
  13. Photos 13a and 13b: Corner of Westminster and Mathewson Streets
  14. Photos 14a and 14b: Looking down Weybosset Street from the front of the Halls Building, #49. In the view are the Equitable Building (1872) and the Wilcox building (1875).
  15. Photos 15a and 15b: The columns of the Arcade along the Weybosset side
  16. Photos 16a and 16b: Looking down Delta Street towards the Halls Building
  17. Photos 17a and 17b: Looking up Ann Mary Street towards North Main Street
  18. Photos 18a and 18b: Looking down the hill in back of what is now LA Fitness over the Ocean State Job Lot (formerly Shaws) parking lot

Thank You

To Jay Boersma, the then-student now-professional photographer who went to RISD and captured the downtown streets. Thank you for letting us re-publish and recreate your work.

Mr. Boersma’s website is

About the Project

Some time in 2008 we stumbled across the website of Jay Boersma. He was a RISD graduate student who used Sunday mornings in Providence as his time to explore and work on his portfolio. Originally from the Midwest, Jay was fascinated by Providence’s mix of older architecture with more modern interpretations as the City tried to reinvent itself. Since shops were not allowed to be open on Sundays and Downtown had a strict overnight parking ban, Providence was his “abandoned set on a movie studio back lot”.

We set about to recreate these scenes as closely as possible. It was fun to hunt down the locations. His original photos are much better as photos — composition, color, contrast, and overall exposure. They are really beautiful, without even mentioning the great old signs and embellishments that we have lost today. Mr. Boersma also had the advantage of a 4x5” large format camera. This means that the planes of the lens and the negative are independent, allowing him to skew perspective and make tall buildings shoot straight up, while most cameras with smaller lenses bow buildings as they rise from the ground. We did our best to use the trickery of Photoshop to correct these effects and stay as true to the original as possible. Still, we are not professional photographers with great equipment (but we think we got pretty damn close). Hope you enjoy!