Shots of first full WaterFire

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Last night was the first full WaterFire of the season here in Providence. I generally visit rather late, when the crowds have drawn down and parking is easy, well, easier. The lead-off photo above, taken by WaterFire volunteer photographer Jim Turner, gives a sense of its verve, with crowds pressing forward toward the ring of fire at Waterplace Park. That image leads off, as last night I could not manage a shot that showed the flames without glare. The rest below are culled from many others. Shots with too many blurred people, or too much glare or smoke, fell to the cutting room floor.

WaterFire, created in 1994 by Barnaby Evans, owes much of its success to the design of the waterfront by Bill Warner, whose attention to the comfort of walkers and sitters is a testimony to Jane Jacobs and William “Holly” Whyte. This year’s calendar of WaterFires is, I think, its 22nd. Here is the WaterFire Providence website.

At the bottom is a video of a fire dancer performing at Confluence Park, where the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck rivers meet – some 200 feet east of their former confluence under the Post Office. The river channels were moved and the rivers daylighted in the mid-1990s, replacing what the Guinness Book of World Records called the “world’s widest bridge” with 12 traditional bridges, three parks (and more to come) and a system of river walks that one famous urbanist erroneously thought to have been originally built a century before and only recently uncovered along with the rivers.











































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.
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5 Responses to Shots of first full WaterFire

  1. I drop a leave a response whenever I like a article on
    a site or if I have something to valuable to contribute to the conversation.
    Usually it’s caused by the sincerness communicated
    in the article I read. And on this post Shots of first full WaterFire | Architecture Here and There.
    I was excited enough to drop a comment 🙂 I actually do have some questions
    for you if you usually do not mind. Is it simply me or does it
    seem like a few of these comments come across like they are coming from brain
    dead folks? 😛 And, if you are writing at additional online sites, I’d like
    to follow anything new you have to post. Would you list the complete urls of your
    public sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page
    or linkedin profile?


  2. What you typed was actually very logical. However, what
    about this? suppose you were to create a awesome headline?
    I am not suggesting your content isn’t solid, however what if you added
    a post title that grabbed a person’s attention? I mean Shots of first full WaterFire | Architecture Here and
    There is a little vanilla. You should look at Yahoo’s front page and note
    how they create post titles to grab people interested.
    You might add a related video or a picture or two to get people excited about everything’ve got to say.
    In my opinion, it might make your posts a little bit more interesting.


    • Many thanks, AeC, for your constructive criticism. I’m not sure how far you think I should go in creating “grabber” headlines. This one may be bland, but maybe not if you are an aficionado of WaterFire. If you look down the list of recent posts in the right margin, some are not quite so bland. I am mindful that they must be both factual and relevant to the post they describe. I’m also mindful of my own faults as a poet. But I will keep your suggestion in mind and try to do better. Yet it’s hard to equate my subjects with the subjects that are tearing through the country and ending up on Yahoo. Are you sure Yahoo’s heds are as accurate as they are exciting? I think that is a primary requisite, and if sometimes mine are a bit vanilla, so be it. As long as they accurately reflect a very brief summary of what the reader is to expect if he continues on, I think they are doing their job. If they entice the reader in only to disappoint his expectations of how exciting the entire post may be, then it has failed as a headline. That may be an outlier view in the profession of journalism today, but it is one I hold to.


  3. Peter, thanks for ID’ing the fotog. I will give Jim the credit he is due. And yes, I’d love to see WaterFire’s new space.


  4. petermello says:

    Thanks for the great post and photos of WaterFire. The first photo is by one of our many amazing volunteer photographers, Jim Turner. We’d love to get you over to our WaterFire Arts Center project in the the Valley/Olneyville neighborhood where we’re saving a huge 1929 industrial space that was vacant and rapidly deteriorating for the past decade and transforming it into our first permanent, visible home in the community and an arts venue like no other in the region. Check it out at We’re also doing a weekly vlog, “Building for Our Future” which follows the project’s progress. Here’s a link to last week’s episode which featured Clark Schoettle. Please let me know if you want to experience the space in person, I’d love to take you for a tour of the project. Thanks again for the great post covering our first WaterFire of 2016!

    Peter A. Mello, managing director
    WaterFire Providence | 401.273.1155 x130


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