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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

In our class discussion on Thursday, February 12th, we explored many attributes of this thing we call "history". What follows is a "secular", "critical", "reconstructive", "sequential", and "incomplete" barebones history of India Point Park. Packed into these short paragraphs are the important events which define three distinct eras in the history of India Point:

India Point as Port: The first Port of Providence was established at India Point in 1680 (1). Over the next 250 years, India Point flourished as a center of maritime trade, spearheaded by the merchant John Brown (2). The port at India Point was so named for Brown's tea and spice trade with the East Indies. The Brown shipping industry closed in the early 1800's, but the development of several railroad lines through Providence during 1835-1860 maintained the area's importance as a New England trade center until the Great Depression of the 1930's (3).

India Point as Scrapyard: As the nation sank into economic despair, the railyards at India Point became a scrap metal facility (1); it essentially became a processing point for garbage and refuse. Two more events, one natural and one manmade, contributed to India Point's demise as an urban area. India Point and the rest of Providence's waterfront were demolished by the 1938 hurricane, and the construction I-95 cut through India Point area in 1966 (1).

India Point as Park: The rebirth of India Point as a park was championed by Mary Sharpe. Her fundraising and historical research efforts helped transform India Point from railyards into the present-day park. Other Providence parks had lost land to the construction of I-95, and the federal government had promised the city a large sum of money to rebuild parks (1). Mrs. Sharpe's determined efforts ushered in the delivery of this money, and India Point Park was finally christened in 1974. The park has recently flourished after the addition of a wide pedestrian bridge over I-95 which reconnects Fox Point neighborhood to the Park (4).

Though basically complete and relatively unbiased, this history tells us little about the character of the place. If this history is a simple sketch, the rich memory embedded in the park today fill this sketch with vibrant color.

On to India Point Park: Memory...


1. Betancourt, Frances. "The Creation of India Point Park ." Friends of India Point Park. 2 May 2002. Friends of India Point Park. 16 Feb 2009 <>.

2. "History." Providence Working Waterfront Alliance. 2007. Providence Working Waterfront Alliance. 16 Feb 2009 <>.

3. "Three and One-half Centuries at a Glance." History and Facts: America's Renaissance City. May 2002. City of Providence. 16 Feb 2009 <>.

4. Marcelo. Philip. "DOT opens pedestrian bridge connecting Fox Point to India Point Park," The Providence Journal 16 Oct 2008. 19 Feb 2009 <>

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