The History of The Weybosset Bridge
The Civic and Architectural Development of Providence
by John Hutchins Cady
Just to the north of where you are now standing the first bridge across the Providence River was erected in 1660, connecting the shore of the Neck with Weybosset Neck and the Pequot path which provided access to the meadow lands. Previously, a ford in the river had been used as an approach to that path which led through Pawtuxet and the Narragansett country into the lands of the Pequots in Connecticut. Poor construction and lack of repairs caused the bridge to fail in the late 1670's.
For the next several decades the townspeople, their cattle, and their teams waded across the ford until a second bridge was constructed in 1711. It was destroyed by a flood and rebuilt in 1719. A fourth bridge, funded by the colony's lottery in 1745, was carried away by a gale and record high tides in 1761. During those years, farmers from the meadows to the west crossed over the bridge and sold their produce in what is still known as Market Square. The first drawbridge, constructed in 1764, allowed square rigged ships to unload their West Indies cargos at the Bowen Street Wharf north of Steeple Street. The seventh bridge was destroyed by the great gale of 1815; its flood waters are recorded on a bronze plaque on the wall of nearby Market House.
The trend to widen the bridge began in 1843 and continued in earnest until 1940 when its width reached 1147 feet and Guiness Book of Records acknowledged Providence as having constructed the widest bridge in the world. During its history it has supported two market places, Central Fire Station, Union Railroad Depot, Horse Car Depot, and a post office.
By 1983 only parked cars and congested traffic could be seen on the decking which covered the river. In 1984, after more than 300 years of bridge building, the city and state decided to reclaim the rivers and constructed the bridges and river park which are here today.
Location. 41° 49.531′ N, 71° 24.505′ W. Marker is in Providence, Rhode Island, in Providence County. Marker is on College Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Providence RI 02903, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Hurricane of September 21st 1938 (a few steps from this marker); Rhode Island Korean Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); The Grand Lodge of Rhode Island (within shouting distance of this marker); Burning of British Taxed Tea (within shouting distance of this marker); Giovanni Da Verrazzano (within shouting distance of this marker); World War I Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); First Town House of Providence (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Stephan Hopkins (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Providence.
Categories. • Bridges & Viaducts • Colonial Era •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 16, 2012, by Bryan Simmons of Attleboro, Massachusetts. This page has been viewed 377 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 16, 2012, by Bryan Simmons of Attleboro, Massachusetts. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.