Instagrammer Shares Unique Perspective of Providence

A creative soul satisfies his wanderlust within city limits

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Justin Foster of Providence describes himself as a wanderer. He enjoys trekking off the beaten path and urban exploration. When the pandemic hit, his firm quickly went completely remote and he suddenly found himself with free time due to no commute, and quiet streets to himself. “I decided that since the city was pretty much empty, it would provide me with the perfect opportunity to get out and take photos of all the places I never had access to before,” says Foster, who started @the_hidden_worlds_of_pvd on Instagram as a creative outlet. “I was able to show my perspective of the city I love without relying on family or friends to get ‘likes’ and hopefully inspire people to get out and explore our incredible city.”

Growing up in Warwick, Foster muses that Providence was “that magical city with the giant buildings we visited on special occasions.” In high school, upon discovering Thayer Street, he and his friends would take the bus almost every weekend to explore and revel. After attending college in Connecticut, he married and moved to Manhattan for a few years, but always had a sweet spot for his first city, and returned with his husband.

“Truthfully I miss Thayer Street from the ‘90s! When I was hanging as a teen, the music was blaring, there was the smell of popcorn and spices, and just the right amount of mischief – anything was possible!” says Foster, who laments the loss of unique shops like OOP and ESTAS. “When the Cable Car on South Main closed, a piece of my heart seemed to break,” he says. “I sound like my dad, whose memories of Thayer from the ‘60s and ‘70s rival anything I could have. Times change, I know, but culture, art, and inspired local businesses are the key to survival – everything else is just a Starbucks.”

Today, Foster sets his sights on finding magic in the everyday with subjects as seemingly random as the patina on a metal bike rack, a bright yellow hydrant on a gray afternoon, or a mystery pit (with a door at its base) in the middle of a parking lot.

“I love the walkableness of Providence and the way all of the buildings seem like a strange bunch of knick knacks at a flea market. Some are old, some are new, and each has its history and stories, but all of them seem to go together in their own unique way,” he says. “And I love the way the setting sun can paint the East Side in a light that still manages to take my breath away.” 

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