WPA Sidewalks

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic I walked to get out of the house. Exploring the Pawtucket neighborhood just north of where I live in Providence, I found myself drawn to the WPA sidewalk plaques. Drawn to them because they raised so many questions:

  • Do the dates on the plaques reflect when the work was done? If so, why don’t they seem to be done in an order?
  • Who made the plaques? Were they created by a local foundry? Why are there different styles?
  • There are private company plaques as well, did the WPA contract with local businesses? Did the businesses fill in when the WPA ended with the start of the war?
  • Why are there so many streets with graded land and granite curbs, but no sidewalks?

To begin to make sense of the project I began by mapping the plaques. While the Living New Deal listed some of the sidewalks in this area, I had no record of how far to look.

Click on the map to explore by date range or use the links below to explore by style and company.