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PHOTO: THOMAS PAYNE/WATERFIRE PROVIDENCE


that is home to one of the country’s first subscription libraries. For a panoramic view of Provi- dence, walk north a half-dozen blocks up Benefit Street to South Court and take a right. Two more blocks and you will be at the edge of the green space of Prospect Park at Congdon and Cushing, and there Prospect Terrace opens up to a dramatic vista overlook- ing the city.


Next, head south to Thomas Street and west toward the river to get to the Riverwalk. Providence sits at the head of Narragansett Bay, and three other waterways come together in the city: the Providence, Moshassuck, and Woonasquatucket Rivers. A fork in these rivers hooks up toward Water- place Park, where you’ll get a fine view of the state house, designed at the beginning of the twentieth century and featuring the first unsupported dome in the United States. WaterFire, a summertime attraction, is a spec- tacular art installation of one hundred bonfires lit in moored, floating iron baskets in the river. Around sunset, gondolas move from one cauldron to the next, and firebearers light the fires as they go. As much festive celebration as art installation, Water- Fire was conceived by the artist Barnaby Evans in the 1990s, and started with just one basket. The event grew in popularity and in scope, and today WaterFire and the activities connected with it draw thousands of summer visitors to the waterfront. You ask a woman walking her dog along the river where you might find something cold to drink. “You need a Del’s frozen lemonade,” she advises and points to a cart with the name scrawled across it. Great Grandfather DeLucia made his family’s frozen lemonade first in Naples, Italy, in 1840, and Grandfa- ther Franco DeLucia brought the recipe to the United States some sixty years later. Made of lemon and sugar and crushed ice, the beverage is a little slushy, a little icy, and a lot refreshing. Other fruit flavors are available, too, but it is the lemonade that quenches one’s thirst the best. You can now find frozen lemonade vendors in various places worldwide,


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u The celebrated WaterFire, a work of art made up of one hundred fires in baskets above the waters of the three rivers, is regularly scheduled from May to October.


but nowhere do their mobile vending carts seem quite as much a part of the culinary landscape as they do in Providence.


Food-on-the-go also seems to be inherent to the gastronomic history of this city. In 1872, entrepreneur Walter Scott got the idea to make a sort of catering wagon to be drawn by horse and parked close to where folks might need food in a hurry. This endeavor, the original diner, was first stationed in front of the offices of the Providence Journal, where men on deadlines could dash out and grab a quick bite to eat without going too far from their desks. Catering wagons sprang up all over Providence and the nearby communities, first as horse-drawn wagons, and eventually moving through a number of incarnations like dining cars and truck trailers and finally to stationary buildings that reflected the shifting architectural styles of the twentieth century. From rich wood to gleaming steel, the insides of the diners that were used in the second half of that century were usually narrow and generally featured a long counter with swiveling stools bolted to the floor in front of it. Booths and tables were scattered over the checkerboard floors of the diners big enough to hold them. Menus were typically posted on a board behind the


counter, and the often greasy fare was made mostly on grills and in fry baskets, with the occasional oven- baked meat loaf or similar dish. Ketchup and mustard were the condiments of choice.


PHOTO: TIMOTHY LARSON A P R I L 2 0 1 1


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