Pineapple or pine cone? A look at the Federal Hill arch debate

Water Cooler

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s a debate Rhode Islanders have had for decades: is it a pine cone or pineapple that adorns the arch on Federal Hill?

Eyewitness News asked nearly a dozen people what they thought during Monday’s Columbus Day Festival. The responses were split.

Federal Hill historians say officially—it’s a pine cone. The pine cone, or La Pigna as it’s known in Italian, is a symbol of hospitality and welcome.

The original landscape architect, Al Veri, who designed the arch built it as the pignoli pine cone, according to the WDA Design Group.

“In addition, the design is home to a unique triumphal arch featuring a suspended pignoli pine cone, a traditional Italian symbol of hospitality,” the description of the project reads.

The pine cone does have a striking resemblance to a pineapple, causing some confusion among onlookers.

The Providence Preservation Society says the arch was installed during the first term of Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, the city’s first Italian-American mayor.

Richard Pacia of the Justinian Law Society said it could be interpreted as a pine cone or pineapple because they both represent similar meanings.

“It’s what you want to believe,” Pacia said. “I don’t think there is any right or wrong answers to it.”

The sculpture is at the heart of Federal Hill, symbolizing the community’s roots in its immigrant past and Italian culture.

Although it’s a never-ending debate, the arch is now one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city of Providence.

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