Providence No. 1 U.S. city

Revitalized Westminster Street in downtown Providence. (tripadvisor.com)

Revitalized Westminster Street in downtown Providence. (tripadvisor.com)

The Dorrance, now aka "once the Federal Reserve"! (T+L)

The Dorrance, now aka “once the Federal Reserve”! (T+L)

This is big, folks! Listen up! Travel + Leisure, the top magazine of its kind, has ranked Providence No. 1 in its list of best U.S. cities. “5 Reasons to Visit Providence” is here, and it is a joy to read, but even better is the summary article, “America’s Favorite Cities 2014,” in which Providence ranks first stacked up against its much larger rivals in many categories, most especially in those that place our glorious city into a high class of über-hipitude. Needless to say, the architecture of the largest city in the smallest state scored bigtime. Unaccountably, Los Angeles even scored higher, probably because of Frank Gehry’s ridiculous concert hall – which just goes to show that even great judges sometimes hock a goober.

This set of rankings will have Rhode Island’s brand marketeers doing a jig. They should read my free advice to Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo in my latest GoLocalProv.com column, published today. In it, I urge her to gently suggest to developers that they use traditional rather than modern architecture to design projects. Luckily you have to look at the Facebook version to read the snarky comments at the end, to whom I replied that they were incapable of trash-talking their way out of a paper bag!

And by the way, “5 Reasons” author Nikki Eckstein gets free admission into my Providence travel writer’s hall-of-fame museum for her reference to the Dorrance restaurant as having once been “the Federal Reserve.” No, sweetheart, that was the name of the previous restaurant in that space, which was originally the Union Trust Bank. Luv ya, Nikki! At least you didn’t say that the Arcade was America’s first indoor shopping mall. That is the top-ranked Providence travel-writing oops in the annals of recorded world history. The Arcade is the oldest. Older ones in Philadelphia and New York were razed eons ago.

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. 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. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and 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 invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, 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.
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