Blackstone Boulevard consists of a 1.6 mile long, 100-foot wide median bordered by two roadways which each contain a bicycle lane and a traffic lane. The Boulevard is one of the landmarks of Providence and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This beautiful park is heavily used, attracting walkers and runners from all over the city and surrounding communities. Bicyclists and motorists also enjoy its trees, shrubs and grass. The Boulevard features many large, mature trees, and numerous bushes and smaller plants. Benches line the wide central path, and there is one substantial structure, a rustic stone shelter built over 100 years ago as a trolley stop.
The Boulevard Today
The Trees. In partnership with the Parks Department, and thanks to donations from the community and to grants, the Conservancy has planted nearly 300 trees and shrubs on the Boulevard in a reforestation project begun in 2003. Many of these are nearing the end of their 5-year maintenance period, during which BPC has provided water, pruning and mulch, and these trees are becoming truly established “residents” of the Boulevard. If you look closely, you can see that many of the new trees are sponsored by an individual or family and honor a loved one. Our focus is now the health and maintenance of the beautiful old trees. We undertook a major pruning project in 2011 and removed dead or dying trees. The Conservancy has prepared a guide to trees of the Boulevard.
Closer to the ground. The path running down the median has been improved in places with stone dust, although it is still subject to heavy wear and tear. Along the median path walkers and runners can pause to sit on donated benches, of which the Conservancy has installed more than two dozen. A garden has been installed and maintained by volunteers since 2004 at the south end of the Boulevard. Volunteers, with help from the Parks Department, keep invasive and weedy plants in check along the length of this park.
The Witherby statue area has been gradually improved in the last few years, thanks to financial help from the Witherby family, donations to our general fund, grants, and of course our wonderful volunteers. The statue was professionally cleaned and extensive pruning was done around it. The landscaping has been improved. Spring bulbs (600!), summer-flowering perennials, and a small ornamental tree have been added to the site.
The Trolley Shelter has been given new life as a community gathering place. Major structural repairs were made in 2009 with support from Swan Point Cemetery, local grants and community contributions. A lovely garden was installed in 2010, with support from Butler Hospital. A very popular summer concert series underwritten by Whole Foods Market (2009) and Butler Hospital (2010), has provided a wide range of wonderful and free music on summer evenings.
The Future. Immediate goals for the Boulevard include: installing electricity and lighting at the trolley shelter, finishing the major pruning, continuing the summer concert series. Other proposed projects include restoring the “little shelter” (a covered bench midway along the Boulevard), creating and installing a garden at north end, installing a water fountain, and additional refurbishment/protection of the statue.