Re-imagining Providence: Creativity and the Post-Industrial City

Authors: Gillian Tiley*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Social Geography
Keywords: Creative City, urban planning, placemaking, neighborhood redevelopment, public participation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Roosevelt 4.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 2009, Providence embarked on the ‘Creative Capital’ campaign. With this re-branding, city officials hoped to present Providence as a creative hub in an effort to attract creative individuals to live and work in the city and to promote cultural tourism. In the same year, the Department of Arts, Culture + Tourism implemented a cultural plan entitled “Creative Providence” in order to provide substantive projects and initiatives to achieve this image. Utilizing Richard Florida’s idea of the “Creative City” as a theoretical lens, this thesis aims to provide a thorough examination of Providence’s creative transformation, with an analytical focus on the city’s unique elements of public participation and neighborhood development. I will first discuss Providence’s ‘renaissance’ redevelopment occurring between 1970 and 2000 that culminated in the production of its ‘destination city’ identity. From here, I will examine in detail Providence’s creative transformation, focusing on the seeds of creativity already present in the city as well as its more intentional creative placemaking projects and branding initiatives that have occurred in the past fifteen years. Finally, I will conduct an analysis of the discourse surrounding neighborhood redevelopment and public participation in Providence’s creative zeitgeist, paying attention to three key themes: community empowerment; tourism and marketing; and perceptions of neighborhood gentrification. Here, I will implore the necessity of looking beyond official accounts of redevelopment and uncover the silences and contradictions laden in the narratives of the city’s creative revitalization.

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