West Side Diner in Providence, Rhode Island

West Side Diner, at 1380 Westminster Street in Providence, Rhode Island, is a classic art deco, stainless steel 1947 Kullman model diner. Walter Scott began the first lunch cart/wagon service in Providence, Rhode Island in 1872, the precursor to modern diners and fast food establishments. Joseph and Mary Poirier opened this diner in 1947 on Atwells Avenue and operated it until 1955.

Like many diners, it had many owners and many names over the years, including Top Hat, Krystal’s, and El Faro. It closed in 1999, but a man named Jon Özbek saved it from the wrecking ball. It was restored and moved to its current location in 2011. It reopened two years later with new owners and a new name, the West Side Diner. It was added National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Look for a new diner every Tuesday in 2019! Click to expand photos.

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National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore, Maryland

This eclectic museum brings the African American experience to life, but some sections are definitely not suitable for children.

As a fan of both history and wax museums, I was thrilled to discover this museum in Baltimore’s struggling northeastern neighborhood of Oliver. The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum features over 150 life-sized wax figures representing a range of personalities from African American history, as well as a few ancient ones as well.

The museum’s depiction of ancient history is, for lack of a better word, imaginative. In the entryway, a large figure of a dark-skinned Hannibal the Great sits on a war elephant. Hannibal, a Carthaginian leader who fought the Romans circa 218 BC, was ethnically Phoenician, not from Sub-Saharan Africa. Likewise, the museum depicts Egyptian pharaohs as black when they were actually Middle Eastern in origin. Some even had red hair.

Perhaps the most controversial exhibits have to do with the Atlantic slave trade, lynching, and racism. It’s estimated 12 to 12.8 million Africans were forcibly transported across the Atlantic over a span of 400 years under horrible conditions. The wax exhibit leaves nothing to the imagination.

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Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island

Swan Point Cemetery, at 585 Blackstone Boulevard in Providence, Rhode Island, is a private rural cemetery established in 1846. It was one of the country’s first rural cemeteries, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It encompasses 200 acres and is the final resting place for approximately 42,000 of the city’s former residents. Swan Point contains many beautiful bronze and white marble sculptures.

Troubled Mind

Monument to William Clarke Sayles (1855-1876), son of William F. and Mary W. Sayles. William Francis Sayles was a textile manufacturer, state senator, and trustee of Brown University. His son, William, died as a young man at the age of twenty. He is portrayed as a scholar wrapped in robes in this bronze statue.

Once a Dream

This hauntingly beautiful white marble moment is dedicated to Mary Waterman (1850-1860) and William Comstock (1857-1860), children of Byron and Harriet Sprague. Their epitaph reads, in part: “Farewell darlings we have laid you side by side beneath this sod, buds of earth all fadeless blooming in the garden of our God.” Byron Sprague was a businessman and real estate mogul.

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Unchain the Thunder

Monument to Col. John Stanton Slocum (1824-1861) in Swan Point Cemetery, 585 Blackstone Blvd in Providence, Rhode Island. Slocum commanded the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry Regiment and was killed on July 21, 1861 at the First Battle of Bull Run. The 2nd RI was deployed in Burnside’s Brigade, which initially drove Confederate forces back during the opening phase of the battle.

Unchain the Thunder

Norm’s Diner in Groton, Connecticut

Norm’s Diner at 171 Bridge Street (near the I-95 ramp) in Groton, Connecticut. Norm’s, a local favorite, recently came under new ownership. According to TheDay, it used to have a reputation as a greasy spoon, with a heavy emphasis on the grease. Its new owners freshened up the interior and replaced its original booths with wooden tables. Que será, será.

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The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village

The Dinosaur Place in Oakdale, Connecticut (southwest of Norwich) is a fun adventure park for kids of all ages. They even have an animatronic Dilophosaurus that spits water at you when you step into its cave! I loved dinosaurs as a kid, and would have been enthralled. When Jurassic Park came out in 1993, I was so excited I refused to change my Jurassic Park t-shirt until we saw it.

The Dinosaur Place grew out of a shop called Nature’s Art, which displayed fossils and gem stones. It was so popular that by 2003 the owners were able to open an expansion featuring life-like depictions of these prehistoric creatures. Families can easily spend an afternoon (and a small fortune) here. In addition to the dinosaurs, there’s also a maze and splashpad for kids.

Visitors stroll the 60-acre park along a 1.5 mile trail, where sculptures depicting over 40 types of dinosaurs are on display. Compared to Dinosaur World in Plant City, Florida, The Dinosaur Place emphasizes activities over science, although information panels accompany each type of dinosaur. There is a side trail specifically dedicated to dinosaurs that lived in the area that would become Connecticut.

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