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.

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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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2 Responses to Shots of first full WaterFire

  1. 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.

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  2. 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 http://future.waterfire.org. 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. https://youtu.be/Mn0EX1B7XMo 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
    peter@waterfire.org | 401.273.1155 x130

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