Greater Kennedy Plaza History

Did you know?

The downtown’s central plaza drew visitors including presidential candidate John F. Kennedy who conducted a speech in front of more than 60,000 people. After his visit, the former City Hall Plaza was re-named “Kennedy Plaza” in his honor.

Economics

In the past…

Rhode Island’s banking giants stood side by side lining Kennedy Plaza – making the plaza central to their daily lives.

In the future…

The newly designed, active, pedestrian-friendly Kennedy Plaza will aid in our city’s efforts to retain existing businesses and attract new cutting edge industries to the center of our downtown. With this project, we will ensure the plaza is an attractive “front door” for our city’s business and our City Hall. We will also incite increased economic activity by drawing people to the center of downtown.

Transportation

In the past…

Rhode Island’s banking giants stood side by side lining Kennedy Plaza – making the plaza central to their daily lives.

In the future…

The newly designed, active, pedestrian-friendly Kennedy Plaza will aid in our city’s efforts to retain existing businesses and attract new cutting edge industries to the center of our downtown. With this project, we will ensure the plaza is an attractive “front door” for our city’s business and our City Hall. We will also incite increased economic activity by drawing people to the center of downtown.

Entertainment

In the past…

The Great Houdini performed his magic in the plaza, impressing the thousands gathered for this 1917 show.

In the future…

Greater Kennedy Plaza will continue to enhance its already vibrant activity programming with local and national performances, art exhibits and cultural festivals. The plaza will draw together our city’s diverse communities, tourists and workers together to celebrate and engage downtown.

Transportation

In the past…

Kennedy Plaza was known as a transportation hub, with buses taking center stage.

In the future…

Greater Kennedy Plaza will continue as a home to the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. Through this project, we will increase ridership, as we reduce the number of buses passing directly through the plaza. Through both buses and bike racks, we will encourage the use of green transportation. 

Art & Culture

In the past…

People would pass through the plaza, stopping only to catch a bus or visit the skating rink.

In the future…

The nine areas that comprise Greater Kennedy Plaza will work together to attract visitors to stop and stay a while. Increased lighting, enhanced plantings and more programmed activities will promote a safe, pedestrian-friendly park while, food trucks, farmers’ markets and festivals will be among the many activities drawing people to the center of downtown.

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