The worst hurricane to hit New England in recorded history struck on September 21, 1938. People in Providence found themselves in the midst of a devastating storm virtually without warning. The so-called "Florida cyclone" killed some 600 people in New England and did at least $306 million in damage in 1938 dollars (about $3.5 billion today). The storm's intensity, direction, and timing combined to flood Providence with a 20-foot storm surge.
The flood and the fear of similar future events prompted calls for restricting the ocean's ability to flow into the Providence River. Another severe hurricane struck in 1954, and construction on the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier began in 1960 and was completed in 1966. Located 750 feet upstream from Fox Point in Providence, where the Providence River flows into the Narragansett Bay, the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier serves two central functions. First, it serves to retard high tides from potential storm surges in Narragansett Bay, and second, it maintains river flow so that water levels do not get too high behind the barrier. The barrier can be seen from Corliss Landing
6. Collier Point Park
This site, owned by Narragansett Electric Company, is on Henderson Street and is open from dawn to dusk. Parking is available.
7. Waterplace Park
This 4-acre park features a 240-foot-diameter pond and reconstructed riverwalk in the heart of downtown Providence along the historic waterfront. This site hosts outdoor concerts and, on spring, summer, and early fall evenings, is also the location of WaterFire, an installation by artist Barnaby Evans that centers around a series of 100 bonfires that blaze just above the surface of the three rivers that pass through the middle of downtown Providence.
Handicap access, picnic tables/benches, concessions, trash receptacles
8. Corliss Landing
Corliss Landing is a small city park on South Water Street with several benches facing the Providence River, the Narragansett Electric Plant, and the hurricane barrier that was built to protect downtown Providence from flooding during a hurricane. The park is surrounded by shops and restaurants of the Old Harbor District and is close to downtown Providence. Only streetside parking is available.
Hiking/walking, trash receptacles
9. India Point Park
This city park on India Street offers views of downtown Providence and the city's working waterfront. A bulkhead provides protection for asphalt paths and grassy areas for jogging, walking, and playing ball. India Point Park is a pleasant place to bring a lunch and enjoy a view of the Providence River from one of the many wooden benches or picnic tables. The dock for the Block Island Ferry is also located here. Parking is available.
Handicap access, trash receptacles
10. Richmond Square Parking Lot
This parking lot at the end of Pitman Street offers no facilities but has a scenic view of the Seekonk River. A 10-foot-high bluff makes this a possible fishing spot. Several steep paths make it possible to access the cobble shoreline.
11. Blackstone Park
This 40-acre city park has 2,400 feet of shore frontage on the Seekonk River. It is located on the East Side of Providence, just north of Richmond Square, at the end of Waterman Street. The park is equipped with benches, picnic tables, and trash facilities. Winding paths and streets provide pleasant routes for jogging, fishing, and bicycling. Parking is limited to roadside spaces.
Swan Point Cemetery
At Swan Point Cemetery, on the East Side of Providence, tall trees and abundant flowers have been enjoyed by generations of Rhode Islanders. Over 150 species of birds have been sighted at Swan Point, and it is an especially popular place for birdwatchers during the spring migration. For birds heading to northern nesting grounds, the forested grounds of Swan Point are a haven within an otherwise urbanized landscape. Here, migrating songbirds can stop and feed before continuing on their northward journey. More than 20 species of warblers have been seen on good daysat Swan Point, along with vireos, thrushes, and flycatchers. Persistent searching within the cemetery may uncover a resident screech-owl or great horned owl. Several roads in the cemetery allow views of the Seekonk River.
Hint: Visit the cemetery between mid-April and mid-May to take advantage of viewing opportunities available during the spring migration. Bird walks are offered by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island in May. At other times of the year, visit just to see some of the resident and visiting wildlife in the urban oasis. Please be sure to respect cemetery guidelines for use when you visit.
For more information, contact Swan Point Cemetery, (401) 272-1314.
From I-195, take Gano Street exit; turn right, follow Gano Street 0.8 mile to right on Lloyd Avenue. After 0.4 mile, turn left onto Blackstone Boulevard. Cemetery is 1.2 miles ahead, on right.
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