Column: Dr. Downtown’s stroll with Dr. Street

Dr. Downtown examines pedestrian situation on Thomas Street, in Providence. (Photo by David Brussat)

Dr. Downtown examines pedestrian situation on Thomas Street, in Providence. (Photo by David Brussat)

Dear Dr. Downtown: Please tell us about your “walkabout” last weekend with the author of Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and TownsStrolling in Stratford.

Well, the doctor thought that Dr. Street (aka John Massengale, New York architect and historian) might have some more sage advice for Providence. The author, who is also a founding member of the New York chapter of the Congress of the New Urbanism, lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Dear Dr. Downtown. Enough dagnab credentialism! Nobody is interested in your confused persona, or that of “Dr. Street.” Just tell us about your walk and what you learned from it. — Cantankerous in Canton.

Dr. Street actually visited in 2012 before he finished his book (with fellow walkologist Victor Dover). He had criticized the car-centric design of streets even in beautiful walkable Providence. That day, we headed down Angell Street, which turns into Thomas after crossing Benefit, then swoops down past the Providence Art Club. Dr. Street expressed dismay at the cars rocketing past helpless pedestrians on Thomas. Its brick sidewalk is narrow and lacks a protective screen of parked cars. “This street is too wide,” he said. He made that very same criticism on our walk this past Saturday.

Dear Dr. Downtown: You mean you took the same route as you did the first time? How redundant! The “doctor” is not a very good journalist! — Eyeball Roller in Island Park.

To continue reading this column, please visit The Providence Journal.


About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Architecture Education, Architecture History, Humor, Preservation, Providence, Urbanism and planning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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