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.