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Blackstone Boulevard

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1892–1904, beginning of construction to completion of original landscaping. Horace W. S. Cleveland and Olmsted Brothers for landscaping

Here, ranged along a bluff above a stretch of the Seekonk River, the arcadian legacy of Victorian culture and its metropolitan aftermath reigns supreme in the linear conjunction of a park, an asylum, and a cemetery, each beautifully landscaped and all connected by a landscaped boulevard 200 feet wide and 2.2 miles in length, with opposed traffic lanes separated by a linear park. The Proprietors of Swan Point Cemetery ( PR175) commissioned this grand approach to its entrance gate. The Swan Point Proprietors offered the landscape improvement as an inducement for the city to shift the route of the boulevard from its previous course, which had curved down to the shore of the Seekonk, thereby separating the cemetery from the river. Construction of Horace Cleveland's design began in 1892, and the Olmsted firm's planting scheme was completed in 1904. A trolley line ran through the middle until 1948. Blackstone Boulevard emulates the connective strand first projected for the “emerald necklace” of Boston parks and boulevards by Olmsted and eventually given regional dimensions by Charles Eliot, Jr., in his famous Metropolitan Plan of 1893. These examples from Boston, in turn, inspired a similar plan for greater Providence, developed by the Metropolitan Park Commission in 1903, in which Blackstone Boulevard played a stellar role. Few of the boulevards in the plan were realized, however, and no other approached the beauty of this. Its park strip, minus the trolley tracks, is today alive with joggers and walkers. Of all the highly desirable and mostly luxurious residences which either line the parkway or are close by, one of unusual interest requires a momentary detour.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Blackstone Boulevard", [Providence, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-PR172.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 120-120.

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