Here are some shots of WaterFire, created and operated by artist Barnaby Evans of Providence. For readers unfamiliar with the phenomenon, the installation has played out on the city’s three intimate downtown rivers for, I think, 15 years now, every two weeks or so from May through October.
Fires are lit in 100 braziers up and down the rivers, using fragrant wood. Music – mainly “world” music, classical music, jazz or opera – is piped into speakers hidden up and down the embankments and under arched bridges, a waterfront built in the 1990s after the Providence, Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck rivers were “daylighted.”
Some 40,000 people, mostly local but many from around the country and the world, walk peacefully up and down the river walks at each WaterFire, or sit on benches, on low walls along the way, or at outdoor seating provided by restaurants lining the rivers. Or they ride in genuine gondolas, tour boats or official “WaterFire” dragon boats plying the rivers as men and women in black silently pile new wood on the braziers from black canal barges.
The rivers link three parks and traverse the edge of downtown, separating it from leafy College Hill, atop which sit Brown and RISD.
The photos were taken by architect John A. Simonetti during the WaterFire of July 26. There is another WaterFire tomorrow night, Saturday, August 9. Enjoy the photographs and imagine yourself here for the next WaterFire, or the one after that. (The final two shots are of the Rhode Island State House, designed by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White, completed in 1900 and overlooking WaterFire from nearby atop Smith Hill.)