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THE CREATION OF INDIA POINT PARK
by Frances Betancourt
A paper written for US 100 Fieldwork in the Urban Community
Professor Patrick Malone, Brown University
May 2, 2002

INTRODUCTION:
    India Point Park sits at the head of Narragansett Bay marking a gateway to the city of Providence and serving as one of the city's waterfront parks. This parcel of land has played a variety of roles in the lives of Providence citizens for nearly four centuries.

    Over the course of the semester, I have worked with Sarah Zurier of the Friends of India Point Park (FIPP) and The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) to trace the evolution of this land from a center of maritime activity, to a scrap metal yard, and finally to a waterfront park. I have created a timeline of this progression. This report holds the story of the creation of India Point Park and the critical role that the citizens of Providence played in its construction.

    Mary Elizabeth Sharpe, a Providence citizen, began the dream for a park at India Point. From 1962 until her death in 1985, Mrs. Sharpe kept a detailed compilation of records and documents concerning the progress of the park. Her daughter in-law Peggy Sharpe has continued the collection. Peggy Sharpe has loaned these papers in two briefcases to the FIPP. I have read these briefcases in their entirety.

    In addition to reading the briefcases, I conducted ten interviews with those who were instrumental in the founding of the park. To assist with my interview technique I spoke with Michael Bell, folklorist at RIHPHC. The resources provided by the Providence Archives Department and The Providence Department of Planning and Development were also valuable to my research. The Providence Journal as well was a key source.

    My research will be used by The Friends of India Point Park, a group founded in the fall of 2000 at a Fox Point Citizens Association meeting, dedicated to "upholding the integrity of India Point Park as an informal, natural open space." It is my intention that this work will be helpful to FIPP as a means to protect and preserve the park.

to continue, please download Frances Betancourt's paper here


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