Broad Street | South Providence
As you continue down Broad Street from Cranston and enter the City of Providence, you cross more than physical borders. Broad Street is where the first Dominican bodega (pictured above) was established by Tony and Josefina “Fefa” Rosario in the early 1960s. On this section of Broad Street, you are more apt to hear Spanish being spoken, or see it written on posters lining local businesses and on billboards looming high for all to see.
Broad Street has historical significance for many people, ranging from the Narragansett Indians, who once called it “The Pequot Path,” to the Dominican Community, who currently call it “Juan Pablo Duarte Boulevard.” Many Latino residents enunciate every syllable of the word “Broh-ah…,” dropping the last letter in true Caribbean style.
A small area surrounded by a border of bushes and concrete, that faces Broad Street as you walk further into Roger Williams Park (pictured above), is the site of the Juan Pablo Duarte Monument.
It was erected and dedicated by the Dominican Community of Rhode Island in the 1990s, to honor that country’s greatest hero and to recognize the contributions made by Dominicans to the economic growth, the arts and the political landscape of the City of Providence.
This section of Broad Street is also referred to by City Planners as “Lower South Providence,” and to residents as the Washington Park neighborhood. Today it boasts 21 bodegas — a far cry from the first one opened by the Rosarios in the 1960s — and over ten Latino restaurants.
To me it feels almost like I have crossed the border from the U.S. to a Latin American country — it feels like home.