By Kaid Benfield
Published: April 29, 2013
It’s ridiculously easy to think about the benefits of historic preservation in immensely walkable Providence, Rhode Island. I’m not sure I’ve seen a better collection of downtown historic architecture this side of New Orleans. Elsewhere there are fine smaller historic downtowns, of course, such as in Annapolis, and wonderful urban historic districts (frequently close to downtowns) such as Old Salem in North Carolina and Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati. But in Providence, it’s the downtown itself that practically oozes with dignified charm.
I have a feeling that, as was the case with many fine older buildings in my hometown, Providence’s splendid architectural legacy remains intact because, when people were tearing down historic properties a few decades ago and putting up newer but mediocre buildings in their places, Providence’s economy simply couldn’t support the new stuff. So the splendid older buildings remain today, available to be given new life by creative-class businesses.