Established in 1862, East Providence is part of the larger Providence metropolitan area. The history of the region is closely tied to the waterfront, as the local economy relied heavily on fishing, oyster farming and the harbor for trade. Industrialization transformed the waterfront as early as the 1870s, when East Providence was one of the first cities to industrialize in the U.S.
The city experienced another wave of industrialization in the 1920s and 1930s, as it became a regional distribution hub for raw materials. After the rapid decline of industry in the 1950s, East Providence’s population continued to grow, signifying the vitality of the city’s economy. Since the 1950s, the city’s labor force has seen a pronounced shift from blue to white collar occupations, with income levels today marginally below the regional average.
Although East Providence’s population has slightly decreased from its peak in the 1980s of 50,000 to 47,337 today, the rest of the region is seeing a modest population growth. The southern area of the East Providence harbor front, like the rest of the region, has transformed over time. Its shoreline has literally been shaped by the economic drivers of the day. Since 1865, 54 acres of fill have been added, elongating the shoreline with 0.8 miles. Today, 2.3 miles of shoreline and the total land area of 155 acres present transformative opportunities.
RI Waterfront Enterprises recognizes the importance of economic development on the East Providence waterfront. That’s why we have been working to create a comprehensive vision that illustrates the possibilities for future development of the East Providence Harborfront at Bold Point, which includes the properties previously owned by Chevron and P&W Railroad, as well as properties owned by the City of East Providence and Tockwotton on the Waterfront.
To create the vision, we have sought input from the community, local businesses, property owners, the City of East Providence and state agencies on their needs for the area in the future. Desired outcomes are to create a sense of identity for the area, make use of former industrial sites, improve public access and initiate new recreational uses on the waterfront.
The needs of the community can be accomplished by improving the natural environment; creating a safer pedestrian environment and local and regional connections; and by bringing new businesses and economic development to the waterfront while supporting existing businesses.
East Providence became an independent Rhode Island town in 1862 and lies at a crossroad on water and on land. The properties being proposed for development as East Providence Harborfront at Bold Point have views of the Upper Narragansett Bay and Seekonk River and overlook the Providence skyline.
There are many features that enrich the area and enhance the neighboring community. WATCHEMOKET SQUARE Watchemoket began to develop as a suburb of Providence in 1840, and during the late 1800s and early 1900s, Watchemoket Square evolved as the heart of East Providence’s business district, with more than 100 businesses and hotels.
The area was altered by the I-195 highway interchange that cuts through what was once the center of the district. It is the most centrally located, populated area of the city and is experiencing renewed interest and development of its buildings, waterfront and landscaping.
Learn more: https://www.watchemoketsquareday.com