Driving in Circles

Downtown Providence Got Rid of Its Highway. Can It Lose Its Dependence on Cars?

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Illustration by Tim Gough

Published on Jun 18, 2012

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Across the U.S., local governments are taking steps to tear down downtown highways and rebuild the traditional urban girds that characterized cities before the 20th century’s love affair with the automobile. In Providence, R.I., this process began more than 20 years ago, when officials began to rethink the location of Interstate 195. Over the last decade, the state has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into removing and relocating the highway. Now, the city is at a crossroads as it determines how to redevelop the land that the road once smothered. Writer Yonah Freemark offers a compelling narrative of how Providence got where it is today and explores the challenges facing city planners as they move beyond changing transportation infrastructure to changing the culture that grows up alongside it.

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