The Steel Yard (PS&I)

Founded in 2002 on the former site of Providence Steel and Iron Company (PS&I), the Steel Yard’s 3.5-acre site has become a community gathering space for people interested in creative, industrial arts. The design of this former brownfield site…

Cockeast Pond

An ongoing four-year project of the Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) is an initiative to reverse the nitrification of Cockeast Pond by planting half a million oysters in a fraction of the pond’s area. Residents of Westport have long been…

Providence Dyeing, Bleaching, and Calendering

The Woonasquatucket River, with its generous drops and fast moving streams, was lined with textile factories in the early 19th century. Once textiles were made, they required dyeing and bleaching to be transformed into usable fabrics. In turn, a…

Donigian Park and a Legacy of Pollution

In 2009, a group of volunteers stepped into the Woonasquatucket River at Donigian Park wearing waist-high heavy rubber boots and sturdy gloves to protect against the river’s pollution. Donigian Park in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence had…

Spiritual Cleansing: Religion at Mashapaug Pond

In the summers, Providence residents waded into Mashapaug Pond to get clean – or, more precisely, for spiritual cleansing. "The choir would sing and the Word was preached before the candidate entered the water to have his sins washed away," recalled…

Saving Murphy-Trainor Park

When Liz Camp, a resident of the Reservoir Triangle neighborhood, heard that developers wanted to build over two dozen townhouses on an open plot of land near Mashapaug Pond, she knew she had had to do something to halt the construction. After years…

Playing Around the Pond

On a frigid February in 1904, fifty riders and horses gathered at frozen Mashapaug Pond for an afternoon of racing on the ice. Beyond the pleasure of competition, the races gave local residents a chance to admire each other’s horses and to appreciate…

Industrial Legacies: Environment and Economics

In 1980, up to $1.5 million worth of silver flowed from Providence factories into the Narragansett Bay, giving new meaning to the phrase “a waste of money.” Much of this silver originated from the electroplating firms located in the Huntington…

Gorham’s Toxic Legacy

Rhode Island has a long history of industrial manufacturing. Slater Mill, on the banks of the Blackstone River in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is considered  the “birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution.” By the early 1800s, that fervor for…

Work, Welfare, and Resistance

Imagine walking around this site in 1899, when the Gorham Manufacturing Company was the most famous producer of silver utensils, tea services and decorative items in the world. In the central building, you could find offices, a museum of silverwork,…

From Silver Spoons to Shell Casings

In 1873, an economic depression gripped the country and threatened the future of the Gorham Manufacturing Company. The company’s skilled metalworkers and innovative designers had a reputation for creating quality goods, but none of these things…

Building a School, Building a Community

A school did not always stand on this ground. For nearly a century, the Gorham Manufacturing Company operated an extensive factory on the banks of Mashapaug Pond. Gorham left a complex legacy. While it brought thousands of well-paying jobs to the…