PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Those who walk through the tunnel connecting Providence’s Waterplace Park with Union Plaza may notice a change. Hundreds of colorful tiles are being removed from the tunnel, which has housed a 9/11 memorial for more than 15 years.
The hand-painted tiles are part of the “Wall of Hope,” which is maintained by Rhode Island for Community and Justice. This week workers began removing the tiles from the center pillars of the memorial in an effort to preserve them.
Providence Parks Department Superintendent Wendy Nilsson said the tiles were only supposed to be up for a year, and now time has taken its toll.
“Water, flooding, just wear and tear, erosion, vandalism,” Nilsson said Wednesday.
Nilsson said the tiles are being stored in a safe place until they can be returned. The city is looking for a permanent solution, working with the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the original architects to come up with a new look and feel for the space.
“It’s time to re-imagine what this could look like,” Nilsson added. “We’re talking a couple years out before we have a final product down here.”
Nilsson said the rest of the center tiles are set to be removed by the end of the week. The tiles on the outer walls of the tunnel will stay in place for the time being.