Broadway really became such in 1854, when it reached its present length and breadth of 80 feet for the full distance, making it the broadest way in Providence at the time. Lined with trees, and from the 1860s served by trolleys, it became a street of choice for Victorians with new fortunes. In contrast to the retention of colonial types in the conservative Italianate palazzi on College Hill, here clients ventured into the more flamboyant and individualistic display of true High Victorian styles and into showy versions of their Queen Anne aftermath, from roughly the 1860s through the beginning of the twentieth century. As happened to most such radial arteries in other cities, decline occurred with the coming of the automobile, as Broadway became a major traffic corridor. Although most of the mansions became degraded as places of business, Broadway fortunately avoided the commercial excesses which tended to occur on most other streets of its kind. Enough Victorian grandeur remained to make possible its redemption as a local historic zoning district in 1982. What follows samples a few highlights, minus the canopy of trees which once dignified the street.
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