Providence 1985-2008

When I was 3 years old I moved to Providence, RI, and lived there until I went away to college. While in college I was drawn back to photograph the streets of the city where I grew up, and in the process discovered a city I never knew. Without knowing it I was documenting a phenomenon that is not unique to the city of my childhood--a city restructuring itself, endlessly renovating and resurfacing in the service of changing planning philosophies.

While I have been photographing its changes, Providence has seen its train station moved and replaced, hotels, shopping malls, and apartments filling the spaces once occupied by train tracks and vacant lots. Now a major section of the highway is being rerouted, freeing up and defragmenting a huge area adjacent to the downtown, and the process continues.

Soon large areas of the city I grew up in will be unrecognizeable to me, the physical act of change catching up with the mental ones that have distanced me as I have grown older and my visits are less frequent. Many of the neighborhoods that I photographed when I was in college 20 years ago look unchanged to me, their colorful wooden houses still lining up to catch the afternoon sunlight. Others bear little resemblance--old cobblestones and train tracks finally paved over, derelict houses knocked down, and vacant lots seemingly moving from one place to another, leaving in their wake no hint of what once occupied their spaces. The old auditorium where I saw Metallica play is now a luxury hotel...