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PROFILE OF INDIA POINT PARK:
Who Uses It?

A Showcase Park
India Point Park features 18 acres of open space, graceful trees, and walking paths along its 3,600-foot shoreline. Located at the confluence of the Seekonk and Providence Rivers where they widen into Narragansett Bay, the Park is the only broad expanse of Bay shoreline in Providence accessible to the public. Bordered by Interstate 195, it gives nearly 200,000 people a day a dramatic view of the Bay. India Point’s conspicuousness makes it a showcase, a signature park that underscores the sense of place in the capital city of the Ocean State.

Used by Diverse Groups
About 75,000 people use the Park every year, according to city estimates. Excluding sports facilities like the skating rink and Roger Williams Park, which is 24 times larger, India Point is one of the city’s three most heavily used parks, and of the three, serves the most diverse population. Groups using it include the Mexican Soccer League, the Cape Verdean Festival, Brown and RISD students, and the Boys and Girls Club of Fox Point, which is the city’s most diverse neighborhood. (Other Park groups are listed below.)

Steeped in History
India Point is a centerpiece in Rhode Island history: Roger Williams landed nearby on the banks of the Seekonk River in 1636, then canoed along what is now the Park’s shoreline to the fresh water spring just up the Providence River. During the 1700’s, the bustling port at India Point launched countless trading voyages to the East and West Indies, giving the area its name. After 1850, waves of immigrants — primarily Irish, Cape Verdean, Azorean, and Portuguese — landed at India Point, which teemed with steamships. The present-day Park was created in 1974 out of railroad beds and a scrap metal yard through the efforts of the late Mary Elizabeth Sharpe, government officials, and citizens in Fox Point and greater Providence.

Varied Wildlife
Today, India Point Park includes about 300 trees and bushes, consisting of 10-15 different species such as pine, oak, maple, and pear trees, as well as forsythia and wild rose bushes. Shorebirds at the Park include gulls, cormorants, mallard ducks, geese, swans, and great blue herons. Fish caught by anglers casting from the Park’s shore include striped bass up to 40 pounds and bluefish up to 12 pounds.

Myriad Uses
Being predominantly a natural, unstructured open space, India Point Park lends itself to a wide range of activities. People use the Park to

  • exercise: they stroll, run, walk dogs, stretch, practice Tai Chi, swing in the playground, cross country ski, sled, ride bikes, roller blade, row, sail, run races, play football, soccer, and frisbee.
  • socialize: they picnic, talk to companions, romance boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses.
  • appreciate nature: they bird watch, feed birds, admire trees, paint landscapes, enjoy water views and spectacular sunsets.
  • relax: they sun bathe, nap, read, people watch, unwind, contemplate life, fish, listen to music, play music, and cool off in summer sea breezes.
  • hold special events: school field trips, festivals, concerts, and public art installations.

WHO USES INDIA POINT PARK?
Most people use the Park individually and at their own whim. But it also hosts a number of organized and specialized activities that highlight some of the ways people enjoy the Park.

MARITIME ACTIVITIES
The Sloop Providence, a replica of an 18th century ship built by John Brown, docks at the Park from April through October when 2,000 people go on board for a sail back in history. More than half are students, mostly from Providence public schools. Many have never been on a sailboat before.

The Community Boating Center teaches sailing to 500 people — inner city youths and adults — from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, using small sailboats that dart back and forth along the shoreline.

Brown University Crew Teams use their boathouse at the Park to launch 100 students, men and women, who practice and race on the river in spring and fall.

Waterfront Festivals have been held at the Park periodically over the last 15 years. The current Maritime Heritage Festival features trips on the Providence and other visiting tall ships, and draws 10,000 people on a weekend in September.

 

LAND ACTIVITIES
The Mexican Soccer League fields 16 teams that use the Park’s soccer field from April through October. For the last ten years, more than 1,000 fans have watched the games on weekends.

The Cape Verdean Independence Festival, held every July at the Park since 1975, attracts 5-10,000 people who enjoy traditional food, music, and crafts.

WBRU’s three rock concerts, featuring national bands and free admission, bring 7,000 people to the Park every summer.

The Fox Point Boys and Girls Club has used the Park since it was created in 1974. Sixty youths play in spring and fall football leagues at the Park, and supervised Club members use it regularly to exercise, play ball, and sled. Lacking onsite outdoor facilities, the Club uses the Park as its backyard.

Vartan Gregorian Elementary School has held its field day for all 350 students in the Park every spring for the past decade. It also uses the Park for picnics and educational trips on boats that dock there.

Bicyclists enjoy the Park in growing numbers. The East Bay Bike Path, used by 1,000 people a day, terminates at the Park. Bicycling commuters (now about 100) will undoubtedly use the Park more when the improved Washington Bridge bike path is completed in the next few years. The Park will become the nexus for the state’s three major bike paths, upon completion of the Blackstone Bike Path, currently under construction, and the Washington Secondary Bike Path from the Connecticut state line.

Tai Chi enthusiasts, individually and in classes, have been practicing their ancient form of exercise in the Park for more than 25 years.

Brown and RISD students have used the Park for many years as an outdoor classroom. They write papers on urban issues, design landscapes, and carry out art projects like drawing, painting and public installations.

Friends of India Point Park sponsors cleanup and tree mulching workdays, which attract more people every year, indicating a growing sense of stewardship toward the Park among area residents and others.


 


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