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Based on stuff I've read here, and stuff I've noticed with the mapper at provplan, it seems like Federal Hill is really patchy with good blocks and bad blocks. Given that, I'm not willing to write it off just yet.

Any input?

Another option is the Charles/North End section of Providence. Inbetween Windmill Ave to the east and Smithfield Ave to the west they are building a lot of new construction houses. Where I live certainly flies under the radar as far as "hip" or urban style neighborhoods go, but what you will get is well kept houses in a quiet area that has easy access to the certainly hipper but much more expensive east side area.

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a) whether she's right in suggesting that Federal Hill and the Armory are still a little rough, considering our new child (<6m)

I can not speak from the perspective of having kids, but I live in the West End (near Dexter Training Ground) and I would not discount living here based on what your agent told you. There are a good number of kids in my neighborhood, a huge park with playground & ballfield (Dexter), and it seems like the somewhat sketchy areas that border the area don't really cross into my neighborhood. There's probably a good chance that I'll be having a kid in the next few years, and I'm not in the least bit concerned about raising one here.

Good luck....

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Priscilla. Any chance you wanna rent from me and MrsStink? We promise not to be too uppity when the Big Red destroy the Eli's. ;)

Wow, Cornellians are popping up all over the place here...too bad the Red couldn't pull off the triple overtime victory against Wisconsin yesterday...that was a tough loss...

So, to second what others have said, the west side over here is fine for kids. I know lots of people with young children, and they love it. Its got the typical urban issues, but relatively safe and, well, urban. The armory is definitely a good bet, but there are good bets on The Hill as well. One thing I would caution, but it really applies to ALL sections of Providence if you have small kids - watch out for lead paint. Its relatively easy to deal with, but you just have to do your homework and be careful when doing things around the house.

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Thanks Garris, this helps a lot. Thankfully, i dont need one but something to keep in the back of my mind if the need ever arises.

No problem... Drop me an e-mail in the future ([email protected]) if you are looking for recommendations on where to go/who to see about specific issues...

As an aside, I see all of our hospitals as a huge plus for Providence quality of life (if not necessarily the economics of medicine here). Almost each neighborhood and surrounding town of Providence is served by its own hospital!

East Side: Miriam

Pawtucket: Memorial

Downtown/JD/South Prov/the entire area, really: Rhode Island Hospital, Women and Infants

Smith Hill/Federal Hill: Roger Williams/Providence VA

Western Providence: Fatima

S/N/Attleboro: Sturdy Memorial

Warwick/E. Greenwich: Kent Memorial

And I'm not including Landmark in Woonsocket, Butler and Bradley Psych hospitals on the East Side and East Providence respectively.

That means the metro Providence area has no less than nine very good to excellent hospitals serving it. That's pretty amazing. I can't think of any other city the size of Providence that has so many hospitals!

- Garris

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For centrality and proximity to the train, we're thinking of the East Side. But our concerns are crime and schools. (We have a daughter who will be almost three then and another baby due in June.) I've seen conflicting reports on both of these topics. Are the public schools really as bad as everyone says? And would I be safe cycling or walking home from the train station at 10pm?

Any advice greatly appreciated!

[email protected]

The public elementary schools really are not as bad as everyone says. My daughter is in the East Side elementary school (MLK) and the principal, teachers, and parents are all very committed, passionate, and engaged. MLK suffers from district-wide cuts in funding for the arts and sciences, but is making it up through very creative supplementation of sponsored programs from external non-profits and volunteers. Additionally the elementary charter school programs - Highlander, Cuffee, TimeSquared, and International are quite strong and offer additional options (if you make it through the lottery/waiting list).

Middle school options start to get a little more dire, that is the weak spot of PPS. The only middle school on the East Side is so undersubscribed from the neighborhood that the district was proposing to change it to an overflow high school, but ran into community opposition and delayed their decision. A lot of things are changing in the Providence Public School system and in RI education in general right now...we're taking our chances that current challenges and heightened awareness will ultimately change it for the better.

My observation is that many East Siders give up on PPS based on anecdotes, rather than experience, and opt early on for the crushing double bill (taxes+tuition) of private schooling. But so much of it is based on your kid's personality and needs.

As for safety, the District (8) that encompasses the East Side is the safest in the city for violent crime, and has had the largest drops in both violent crime and property crime, per a recent neighborhood presentation from the Police Dept. I would feel comfortable riding my bike home at 10 from the train station. Walking would depend on the street you chose, but you could be in for quite a walk uphill from the train station !

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I would echo what citybuilder says about the public schools (my kids also go to MLK) and would add that Vartan Gregorian is also a very good elementary school. For public middle school the only real option is Nathanael Greene's Academically Advanced Program, which kids have to test into.

There are also a range of good private schools ranging from the very expensive Moses Brown, Wheeler, Gordon, etc, which cost about $16-18K a year :shok: to others (Montessori, Catholic and Jewish schools, etc), which are closer to $8-9K. Many offer financial aid.

With high school, Classical is supposedly not what it used to be but still performs at the top of the state with Barrington, East Greenwich, North Kingstown.

I would agree that there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about the public schools in Providence. I encounter this sometimes on UP as well as elsewhere among people with no firsthand experience with the Providence public schools.

Overall the public system has serious problems but that does not mean that every single school in the city is bad and that a kid cannot under any circumstance get a good public education in Providence.

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I would agree that there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about the public schools in Providence.

Absolutely, but to a certain degree, perception is reality... The cycle becomes vicious... That reputation was earned to a certain degree, and it'll take some serious performance improvements and good news (like what has happened in some New Haven and NYC schools) to turn that perception around.

One of my co-workers, who is probably one of the few people I know in an upper socioeconomic group who sends his kids to the PPS's, positively mirrors everything that everyone here says about the quality of the various good public elementary, middle, and high schools. He's very involved in the PPS's...

For public middle school the only real option is Nathanael Greene's Academically Advanced Program, which kids have to test into.

Even my involved coworker said that if his kids didn't get into NG's Advanced Program (which they did), that's the point he would probably pull them out of the PPS's...

Middle school options start to get a little more dire, that is the weak spot of PPS.

Unfortunately, middle school is, according to many educators, the absolute most important stage of a child's learning, not high school as is popularly believed:

Elementary school = Introduction to the very basics, to the school model...

Middle school = Hard core skill acquisition, including reading, writing, math, discipline, social skills, etc...

High school = Expansion on the basic skills into subspecialized areas of history, sciences, etc...

There are many who believe that middle/junior high is really the weak spot of the entire US education system. In the district where my mother teaches (and where social promotion from middle to high school is the norm), the high school teachers were almost ready to revolt if social promotion wasn't ended since they hate getting kids with underdeveloped skills from the middle school who then test badly on state/national exams from the minute they get there, and people think it's the high school that is failing.

When the district crunched the numbers and figured out how many middle schoolers would have to be held back due to inadequate skills, they were stunned and crafted a compromise where the worst of the worst would get intensive summer schooling before high school...

And this is in a relatively affluent suburban district...

Welcome to American education in the 21st century... :(

- Garris

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As for safety, the District (8) that encompasses the East Side is the safest in the city for violent crime, and has had the largest drops in both violent crime and property crime, per a recent neighborhood presentation from the Police Dept. I would feel comfortable riding my bike home at 10 from the train station. Walking would depend on the street you chose, but you could be in for quite a walk uphill from the train station !

not trying to start anything but there's some rumors and rumblings that a lot of those numbers may be doctored. I think there will be a bigger story about it coming out real soon now. stay tuned...

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Hm

i feel i should follow up. I have lived on the east side (in my neighborhoods from Blackstone, to Fox Point, to Summit) and in other neighborhoods around the city and have been on Federal Hill for almost 10 years. It has been my PERSONAL experience that on the east side (college hill/fox point especially) there is an implied safety that may or may not exist, but because people are less aware and responsible for themselves and their stuff. We used to call the students "an attractive nusiance" because there were constantly police reports (the brown reports which staff used to get weekly) about how they left their laptops or cd players or whatever in their cars, parked in driveways or even on the street for days or weeks at a time. Or left their apartments' windows open and were robbed while they were away for the weekend. That kind of easy pickin's brings baddies to the neighborhood and everyone suffers, even the people who are being careful.

i can tell you that in Federal Hill we do not take our safety for granted and yet, i don't think i've ever felt safer. Is it because it is actually safe on the hill, or is it because we don't put ourselves in positions of being victimized? i have some of the nosiest neighbors in the universe (and if you can believe it--i am one of the nosiest neighbors as well) and all eyes on the street works really well in these inner city neighborhoods. Of course now that Federal Hill seems to have become a satellight campus of Johnson and Wales, that may all change...

Anyway, i wanted to say that you're safe when you are responsible about your stuff and your own person and when you're surrounded by folks who do the same....does that make sense?

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not trying to start anything but there's some rumors and rumblings that a lot of those numbers may be doctored. I think there will be a bigger story about it coming out real soon now. stay tuned...

I agree.

Anyway, i wanted to say that you're safe when you are responsible about your stuff and your own person and when you're surrounded by folks who do the same....does that make sense?

And, I agree.

The thing about the East Side crime numbers is that a lot of the crime is handled by Brown PD and RISD Public Safety and PPD doesn't get involved. To get a true idea of the East Side's crime you would have to combine PPDs stats with Brown and RISDs annual security reports. Although the crime rate is probably higher than Providence's numbers would imply, most of that unreported crime is against students and the colleges so I don't think it really adds a lot to the safety or lack of safety of non-college residents. The one issue residents should be aware of is that the students are walking targets and it does attract opportunists to the Hill, and residents may get caught up in that. Whereas on Federal Hill, we don't have the walking ATM machines that they do on the East Side, so there are not as many opportunists out there (although we are becoming a big J&W ghetto, so that indeed could change, everyone in my building is J&W).

And indeed, the students have no idea of personal safety and security, I'm dumbfounded by how stupid this generation is. I've thought long and hard about how today's kids act vs. me and my peers when we were their age, and I try to make sure I'm not just turning into an old fart talking about 'kids these days.' I've come to the conclusion, that kids today really are stupid. Parents are not instilling any common sense in their kids. Childhood doesn't give kids any chance to be stung by reality anymore so our young adults come out of this cacoon and have no idea how the real world actually works.

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and a follow up to my follow up: J&W security is generally pretty awesome. If you have a problem with students in your building or neighborhood, and you call security, they respond quite swiftly and with no bullsh*t. They do not want the students (and administration) to get the same reputation as PC students (and administrators).

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Our first official house hunting trip in tomorrow.

We're rolling into town around noon and looking at properties until about 3 so we can get back to CT in time to get the little one from daycare.

Wish us luck!

Exciting stuff! I found the home searching process fun, stressful, but fun...

Remember that no matter what the real estate folks tell you, it's become more of a buyer's market of late. When I was looking back in late '03, many properties were staying on the market for a few weeks max... Definitely not the case now...

Good luck!

- Garris

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Our first official house hunting trip in tomorrow.

We're rolling into town around noon and looking at properties until about 3 so we can get back to CT in time to get the little one from daycare.

Wish us luck!

There is a fantastic house listed on Dexter right on the Dexter Parade Grounds park...undoubtedly needs alot of work, but it could be a showcase, and the location is prime.

definitely check it out.

and right on with the kevin smith quotes elsewhere on the board!

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I would feel comfortable riding my bike home at 10 from the train station. Walking would depend on the street you chose, but you could be in for quite a walk uphill from the train station !

Thanks to everyone for all the helpful info! I expect to be in Providence within the next month to scope things out for myself.

Here's another couple questions.

Of course it's impossible to tell from maps how hilly it is... how daunting is the walk up from the station?

What are the best parks in/near the East Side? From what I can tell from Google Maps, Blackstone Park is heavily wooded, but I've seen Prospect Terrace mentioned here and there. Which are the best for kids?

Many thanks!

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Of course it's impossible to tell from maps how hilly it is... how daunting is the walk up from the station?

Hard to describe. It wouldn't phase me one iota walking up, but it hit me when I jogged up it. My sister and the woman I'm dating (who is in good shape) probably wouldn't want to walk it regularly. You'll have to see it when you arrive...

What are the best parks in/near the East Side? From what I can tell from Google Maps, Blackstone Park is heavily wooded, but I've seen Prospect Terrace mentioned here and there. Which are the best for kids?

Blackstone is essentially woods, not a developed park.

Best for kids I'd say are the following:

Lippitt Park: By far and away the best in my opinion. It's large, has a playground, is jammed with families on the weekend, and is across the street from restaurants (including an ice cream shop). It's at the intersection of Blackstone Ave and Hope Street.

blackstone.gif

Paterson Park and Gladys Potter "pocket" parks in Wayland Square: Both are nestled among homes in residential neighborhoods (Paterson playground is across from three new homes that just sold with asking prices of over a million dollars each). Both parks are full of families on nice days. Both have playgrounds (really, essentially are playgrounds). My running route goes by both of these parks, so I know they're safe and well used.

wayland.gif

For kids, I'd say those are the best by far and away. India Point Park would be fine too, but the parks above would be walkable from anywhere you're living on the East Side, while you'd need to drive or bike to India Point. Like all Providence parks, each feels like they've had better days and feel slightly undermaintained, but they're all far better than the Providence park norm.

- Garris

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What are the best parks in/near the East Side? From what I can tell from Google Maps, Blackstone Park is heavily wooded, but I've seen Prospect Terrace mentioned here and there. Which are the best for kids?

Many thanks!

I'll second Garris' recommendation of Lippitt Park (at the point of Hope and Blackstone), its the best kids park for 5+ on the East Side, though parents and kids of all ages go there.

I can't offer you the swish graphics, but in addition to the other parks Garris mentioned, there is a good kids park at about 8th St. and Summit Ave. It has a playset, sandbox, swings, and a field, and is more sparsely populated with big kids than Lippitt. There is a small "pocket park" on Morris Ave that the neighbors use, and the Parks department is sprucing up.

Finally, the playground and fields at the Jewish Community Center (Elmgrove and Session Sts) are open to the public, and all of the playground equipment is new and high-end. The kids from JCC afterschool programs use the playground in the afternoon, but during the daytime it is just preschoolers and their nannies. Its marked as the Sessions St. School Playground on the map above.

Edited by citybuilder
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Finally, the playground and fields at the Jewish Community Center (Elmgrove and Session Sts) are open to the public, and all of the playground equipment is new and high-end. The kids from JCC afterschool programs use the playground in the afternoon, but during the daytime it is just preschoolers and their nannies. Its marked as the Sessions St. School Playground on the map above.

Yup, thanks for mentioning the JCC/Sessions St playground. I have no idea how I forgot that, since I'm a JCC member and pass by there all the time. You are right in that the playground is in great shape and the area is supremely safe (another upscale neighborhood).

I love Lippett... It's a real jewel. It's one of the few Providence public spaces to have a "big city park" feel to it...

- Garris

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And indeed, the students have no idea of personal safety and security, I'm dumbfounded by how stupid this generation is. I've thought long and hard about how today's kids act vs. me and my peers when we were their age, and I try to make sure I'm not just turning into an old fart talking about 'kids these days.' I've come to the conclusion, that kids today really are stupid. Parents are not instilling any common sense in their kids. Childhood doesn't give kids any chance to be stung by reality anymore so our young adults come out of this cacoon and have no idea how the real world actually works.

Good point. kids (especially those growing up in post WWII suburbs) have much less independence than past generations. In a suburban cacooon kids get driven everywhere. They don't get to discover the world on their own. A great example of this is that the decline in walking or biking to school.

In 1969, 42% of youth (ages 5-18) walked or biked to school. By 2001 this had dropped to 16%. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/kidswalk/then_and_now.htm

It makes sense that this would translate into fewer "real-world savvy" college freshmen.

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Good point. kids (especially those growing up in post WWII suburbs) have much less independence than past generations. In a suburban cacooon kids get driven everywhere. They don't get to discover the world on their own. A great example of this is that the decline in walking or biking to school.

In 1969, 42% of youth (ages 5-18) walked or biked to school. By 2001 this had dropped to 16%. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/kidswalk/then_and_now.htm

It makes sense that this would translate into fewer "real-world savvy" college freshmen.

Precisely why I refuse to let my kids, when I have them, grow up anywhere but an urban environment. And they won't have a car til they move out of my house.

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And indeed, the students have no idea of personal safety and security, I'm dumbfounded by how stupid this generation is. I've thought long and hard about how today's kids act vs. me and my peers when we were their age, and I try to make sure I'm not just turning into an old fart talking about 'kids these days.' I've come to the conclusion, that kids today really are stupid. Parents are not instilling any common sense in their kids. Childhood doesn't give kids any chance to be stung by reality anymore so our young adults come out of this cacoon and have no idea how the real world actually works.

This probably deserves its own discussion thread, i.e. Are kids dumber than in past? If so, is it due to suburban living arrangement?

I mentioned Cotuit's post to my girlfriend, this was her response:

"2 things seem likely to me:

1) Kids are stupider because of the suburban cocoon and what my parents refer to as the over-extension of adolescense. There's a lot going on here. There's an internal conflict when you're that age - you "don't care" and you want to shrug off the adult world, but you're so accustomed to a certain level of comfort and material wealth that you still want to take that all in. I mean, college kids will certainly have an element of credulity in any generation. It's not completely burned into your brain to think about having stuff stolen when you're not used to "locking yourself up." ( i.e. living on your own)

2) Kids will always seem stupider when you're older. I think it's a given. Even a small element of stupid kids will change the character of a neighborhood when it houses several thousand college kids. When you are among the kids, you don't notice the subtle differences as much. You also are less likely to be paying attention to the consequences/reports of stupid behavior. You could be an exceptionally mature and smart college kid and still not see that part of the picture until you're older. That's just how it works. "

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Good point. kids (especially those growing up in post WWII suburbs) have much less independence than past generations. In a suburban cacooon kids get driven everywhere. They don't get to discover the world on their own. A great example of this is that the decline in walking or biking to school.

In 1969, 42% of youth (ages 5-18) walked or biked to school. By 2001 this had dropped to 16%. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/kidswalk/then_and_now.htm

An example of this; I grew up on Taft Avenue and went to John Howland Elementary School, I also had a choice to go to Summit Avenue School as this was a border area, which was located on Cole Ave where the Luzon Ave apartments are now located. This was a mile away and we walked or biked back and forth twice a day. We came home for lunch and there was really no concern that anyone of us would be stolen from the streets by an adult predator. After school meant going to the JCC field at Sessions and Elmgrove, where the present JCC is now located. The only bussing at this age was sometimes taking the UTC(now RIPTA) bus from Savoy Street (the turn around) to Laurel Avenue (they ran both ways on Elmgrove then every 15-20 minutes) for the paltry sum of 7 cents.

The idea that this is only a suburban cacoon is incorrect. Most urban school children are bussed out of their neighborhoods to a school across town. Where there were once Abbott Street, Doyle Avenue, John Howland

and Summit Avenue elementary schools, there is now but one. Even the High schools did not necessitate crosstown ventures. They were all neighborhood schools except for Classical, but even there many of us would walk the streets/tunnels of Providence rather than bus it.

Oh yes, one side thought. The Classical of then mandated two years of Greek and three years of Latin for graduation. At that it had been downgraded from four years of each in the late 50's.

Mark

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Can I just say, it's gotten even worse even since I was in school, and I'm only 21. In elementary school, I walked to school every day (about 8/10 of a mile away) and this was in Warwick, albeit the more densely populated section of Warwick, but still Warwick. Now, NOBODY walks to school unless you live practically right next to it.

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Can I just say, it's gotten even worse even since I was in school, and I'm only 21. In elementary school, I walked to school every day (about 8/10 of a mile away) and this was in Warwick, albeit the more densely populated section of Warwick, but still Warwick. Now, NOBODY walks to school unless you live practically right next to it.

This is hardly because of laziness, and more because of the gang shootings, sexual predators, and child abductions that you read/see every day in the news. Chalk it up to parents being more cautious. The days of roaming around until the streetlights turned on are over. It's a cultural shift and probably won't be changing until people feel safer.

Edited by JJK5
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