Black Locust Pocket Park

Black Locust Pocket Park began as a dream by residents of the nearby Monahassett Mills and the WRWC. It has become a well-loved spot by residents walking their dogs, lunchtime walkers taking the loop around the river, and anyone looking for a moment to be out in nature in the city in the valley district. Pocket Park stands as a pilot project showing how the WRWC plans to further engage the downtown river and open up more moments for people to enjoy the Woonasquatucket. Learn more here about how to support WRWC’s efforts to continue revitalizing community around the Woony!

What We Have Now

  • Black locust seating and shade trellises, hand crafted by local artisans
  • Unique black locust path among native plantings & wildflowers
  • Woony Greenway electric boxes murals
  • Habitat restoration signage, providing info on invasive and native plants

How We Got Here

  • In 2013, NBC worked on a storm water separation project at the intersection of Kinsley Ave and Eagle Street, digging up the area along the river banks to use as a staging area. From the time NBC shared their plans to use the land, the WRWC and nearby neighbors saw the potential of the space as a special enhancement for the Greenway Bike Path and the river.
  • Along with local artists, residents, neighbors, and Councilwoman Sabina Matos, the WRWC secured the funding to turn the vacant strip of land into a wonderful Pocket Park and engaged designers to help bring this vision to life. Specifically, the design of Pocket Park heavily relies upon black locust, a hard and highly durable wood resistant to rot – natures pressure treated wood. Anew Vernacular, a local architecture, woodworking and carpentry group, and the Providence City Forester worked together to harvest invasive black locust trees from the river corridor. They seasoned and milled the black locust, some of the hardest natural wood available, to build all of the wooden structures for the park.
  • Over several months, WRWC River Rangers and neighbors built the project and completed the park in 2016. All these efforts brought a new look to the once inactive area, restoring river habitat and adding much needed greenspace and access to the river.
  • Pocket Park now stands as an example of the changes coming to the downtown portion of the Woony River Greenway. The WRWC and partners aim at creating a continuous linear park all the way down to the mall, connecting into Water Place Park.
  • WRWC has helped to secure and leverage over $50K towards creating this pilot project. WRWC continues to champion further revitalization efforts, and your support is key!

Visit our timeline for more major milestones of the Greenway & WRWC!

Industrial History of Area Around Pocket Park

  • The Industrial Revolution in Providence greatly impacted the Woonasquatucket River, especially the downtown portion where Pocket Park now stands.
  • Through the 1800s, some of the U.S.’s earliest mills arrived on the banks of the Woony, including paper mills, textile mills, plants producing locomotive and auto parts, rubber factories, dying companies and brewing companies, stone cutters, just to name a few. This part of the river, once a meandering flow, became channelized in the mid-1800s, providing more power and predictability for nearby mills and factories.
  • Directly across from the site of Pocket Park once sat Valley Worsted Mills, producing thousands of pounds of yarn a day during its heyday. In 1899, this mill became American Woolen company, until it was abandoned in 1928 and then sold in 1931, when it was then rented to a variety of tenants.
  • As industry began leaving Providence, spaces became abandoned. In the 1970s & 1980s, artists began moving into open and abandoned spaces, setting up live / work / performance spaces. Eagle Square, once Valley Worsted Mills & American Woolen Co. became home of the then underground but now well-known Fort Thunder arts scene from 1995-2001. Artist communities like Fort Thunder spurred the regeneration of the area, though at the cost of displacing some creative talent when more corporate developers began restoration projects.
  • Some creative groups managed to stake a claim from that era, purchasing properties themselves and developing the Valley Arts District, with the Monohasset Mills, The Steel Yard, Nicholson File, and the Wurks providing models of redevelopment with creative talent in mind.
  • At the heart of all of this has been the Woonasquatucket River, the engine that drove industry in the area and now the catalyst for change and bringing nature to people in the city.