31 Cranston

37235By Timm Carney

Departing just feet from the Intermodal RIRTA bus terminal in Kennedy Plaza at pole “E” the 31 Cranston eventually terminates feet into Cranston at the Brewery Parkade. This is my route. I live in the Armory and the 31 passes within a block from my place. All my RIPTA adventures start on the 31 and so shall this column. The 31 is a colorful and surprisingly efficient route.

Starting at Kennedy Plaza the bus travels past city hall and onto Washington St. passing the Grande Dame of Providence Hotels, the Biltmore. The first stop is at Mathewson St. between Lupo’s and Local 121 directly across from the Arnold Building one of, if not the narrowest building in Providence. The next stop after passing Trinity Sq. is the Beau Arts edifice of the Providence Public Library. The 31 then crosses over the 95 canyon by the “public safety complex” and zigzags onto Westminster past Classical and Central High Schools plus the coffee shops and bookstores of Hoyle Square. Westminster veers to the right and Cranston St. to the left of the original Citizen’s Bank building once the locale of Hoyle’s Tavern ,the name sake of the square. After the Hoyle Square stop the 31 continues along Cranston St. passing the burned out relic of the Loutit dry cleaning plant; fabled to be the sight of future condominiums. Who would want to live in such a toxic place? Wiggin Village is just past on the right at the corner of Cranston and Bridgeham Streets is the Wiggimat. In my opinion, the best name of any business in all of Providence.

Along the next block is Tropical Liquors. There is always not often but always something happening along this block. On the right just past Tropical is the Armory building itself. The turreted and parapeted castle looms medievally for an entire city block. My usual stop is at Parade St directly in front of the castle itself, what better bus stop could there be? Armory Park and it’s Victorian painted ladies is to the right and the hood is to the left. Once the 31 crosses Parade St. it enters the heart of the Westend. Bodegas and hair salons, music stores and ethnic restaurants line block after block of Cranston St. La Excellencia a most aptly named burrito place is a block past the Armory on the left. Five bucks will get you a fantastic burrito the size of your head. Further along on the right is the Ebenezer Baptist church and some of the best Sunday morning hats you will ever see. Almost directly across the street is Dairy King, an old school walk up ice cream shop where fudgicles and soft serve are sold through the window onto the sidewalk.

Cranston Street continues on passing African markets and Laundromats, Liquor stores and bars until the city line where it passes across Huntington Ave. and under Rte. 10. At the next block the 31 turns onto Garfield Ave. at the Cranston Court house and goes into The Brewery Parkade the site of the departed and beloved Narragansett Brewery. This is the terminus of the route in front of a Lowes, Stop and Shop and a few other big box stores.

Service on the 31 is regular and follows the schedule more or less. It runs 7 days a week and holidays starting at 5:50 am until 11:55pm weekdays and 7am to 8pm on the weekends. The morning and evening commute times are often crowded especially when school is in session. A mix of different people ride this convenient and some times very colorful route. Overheard one Friday afternoon: “Be careful of her! She’s got a Vetrinarial disease!”

2 thoughts on “31 Cranston”

  1. Leonard Moorehead

    Everyone is equal on the 31, we share the special doldrums out of town to get off just before Providence’s version of Jersey, the Cranston city line. Just about everyone enjoys a ride where diversity is refines itself everyday and no one misses a beat. “Da Back Door!, Da Back Door!” is my favorite slogan shouted in Providence’s trademark patois. Da in this town does not mean stupid. It’s our favorite way of getting off! Not for nuthin, Cranston?

  2. The 31 is where I learned that, if you want prescription drugs, you should complain about your pancreas. Because those drugs are the strongest, and there’s no way to prove you don’t have something wrong with your pancreas until it’s too late. Also, according to my elderly and boozy-smelling source, it’s what Elvis did.

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