Providence, RI: Wickenden Street
In an effort to persuade me to move back to Rhode Island, my future husband, Lorne, took me to a towering pile of mud in downtown Providence. “Someday,” he announced with a sweep of his arm, “this will be a beautiful river, with footbridges and music and crowds of people.”
My reaction? I cried. For 15 happy years I’d been living in Greenwich Village, having fled my home state of Rhode Island forever. Or so I thought. Then I fell madly, dizzyingly in love with a guy who lived–of all places–in Providence.
Despite my breakdown that afternoon, four months later I packed up my duplex and my two cats and headed north. As I watched my beloved New York fade in the rear view mirror of the U-Haul, I tried to convince myself that the neighborhood I was moving to would satisfy the city girl in me. By the end of my first summer there, I was head over heels for not just my tall, handsome husband, but also for Wickenden Street, the funky main drag of Providence’s Fox Point section.
Every morning still, I walk to Coffee Exchange, where the neighborhood gathers for gossip and lattes. I can spend hours browsing the art galleries and shops and digging through bins of collectibles at the antiques shops that line the street. My treasures over these past 15 years include a rotating color wheel that illuminates aluminum Christmas trees, a Tom and Jerry cocktail set, and the metallic jewel-toned drinking glasses of my childhood. For gifts, I always go to The Curatorium, where French tote bags, paper napkin rings with clever sayings, and Japanese salad bowls never fail me.
The street is bookended by pizza: thin crust at Fellini and, down the other end, thick crust at Pizza Pie-er. In between there’s sushi, Indian, Thai, and Cambodian. When I walk down Wickenden Street, tattooed teenagers jostle me, mothers pushing strollers take over the sidewalk, and college students whiz past on their skateboards. The air smells of coffee roasting and curry cooking. If I close my eyes, the city sounds of traffic, car horns, and sirens surround me, and I smile. This could be Hudson Street in New York. It could be. But, happily, surprisingly, it’s not. It’s Wickenden Street in my city, Providence.
When You Go
207 Wickenden St. 877-263-3334, 401-273-1198; sustainablecoffee.com
197 Wickenden St. 401-453-4080; thecuratorium.com
374 Wickenden St. 401-351-3663; pizzapieer.com