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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 Points
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 citys 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 citys 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
Parks shoreline to the fresh water spring just up the Providence River. During the
1700s, 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.
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 Parks shore include striped bass up to 40 pounds and bluefish up to
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
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
- 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.
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
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.
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.
The Mexican Soccer League fields 16 teams that use the Parks 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.
WBRUs 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.
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
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 states 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
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
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