Walkology, Dr. Downtown & Dr. Street

Street Design in the Providence Journal Again

Westminster Street in Providence, Rhode Island

Westminster Street in Providence, Rhode Island

We then crossed the College Street Bridge to enter downtown, and found ourselves where Weybosset and Westminster merge to form what Dr. Street said could be a sumptuous civic plaza. It is a sumptuous civic plaza, replied this doctor, and a civic dance plaza on WaterFire nights. He said it was still too wide. He noted that Nantucket’s Main Street has a horse fountain at one end and a Civil War monument at the other, around both of which cars must maneuver. He recommended an obelisk at Westminster and Weybosset to slow the cars entering downtown. What a great idea!
Dr. Street referred often to a new “paradigm shift” for making cities less car-centric. Vision Zero was conceived by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has called for zero traffic deaths, including pedestrians, in the city. These are not unpreventable “accidents” and no level is acceptable. By focusing on safety, politicians who otherwise care nothing for the niceties of good streets will feel obliged to promote the goals of the slow-streets movement.

Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island, closed for a RISD street fair.

Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island, closed for a RISD street fair. In most American cities it’s better to sometimes close streets for special events than to create Pedestrian Streets that are always closed to traffic.


David Brussat is the architecture critic for the Providence Journal, as well as an Editorial Board member there. He wrote about Benefit Street for Street Design, reviewed the book, and walked the streets of Providence with John Massengale (aka “Dr. Street”).

David Brussat, “The Secret to Making Great Streets,” Providence Journal
John Massengale, “Mr. Manners Goes To MOMA: The Etiquette of Deconstructivism,” Inland Architect (September/October 1988): 66-69

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