Downcity Living with Peter Green

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When Peter Green moved to Providence from New York City nine years ago, his main requirement when looking for a new place, was a good view. He works from home as a graphic designer, and didn’t want to spend his day staring at the side of another building. He found a view in the Peerless Building, in a loft that faces the Superman Building, Kennedy Plaza and City Hall and that’s where he positioned his desk. While working, he’d often glance outside and see birds swooping off the Superman Building. Curious, he bought a pair of binoculars and then a camera and then a bigger lens.

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Nine years later, Peter is the photographer behind Providence Raptors. He had never been particularly interested in birds, but the activity outside his loft piqued his interest and he started to learn as much as he could about what was flying above our city. This interest launched his blog and photography work for Providence Raptors. While he like seeing birds in the wild, his work is focused on the birds in an urban setting. He has captured falcons, hawks and kestrels around the city; hunting in Kennedy Plaza, perched on top of the Independent Man, or nesting next door on the Smith Building.

I met Peter on the roof of the Peerless Building on a gorgeous spring day. He arrived with his huge camera slung on his shoulder, always at the ready. He began by telling me about the skyline and how his interest in birds started, and how it ties in with the city. Tracking the birds has made him learn more about the architecture of the city, and some of the urban legends that surround the birds, the hawks in particular. (No, Buddy Cianci did not purchase the hawks to deal with the city’s rat problem in the 80s.)

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Moving from the roof down to Peter’s loft, I saw the view out his window, and the most elaborate cat play area I’ve ever seen. Prints of his work are everywhere, and even some life size models of birds.

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LivingPeter3aWhen I asked Peter about Downcity living, he said that he loves it. Their two person, two cat household can have one car, conveniently parked in the basement, and all amenities are taken care of, including shoveling. Some of the city’s best restaurants are within walking distance, including his favorite, Sura. The community of people in the Peerless is friendly and eclectic, and many others also work from home.

After a tour of his loft, I couldn’t say no to an invitation to join him on a walking tour of the city and see some of his favorite spots to watch for birds. We headed down Westminster Street and Peter was pointing into trees and up at buildings, showing me spots he usually sees little nests. When we were almost to the river, he turned around to show me the spot where the falcons nest. (There’s a webcam of their nest, which I’m now glued to.)

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As if on cue, the mother falcon swooped off the building for me. We continued along the river, crossing over and seeing a nesting dove and even an appearance of a groundhog. On our way back, we saw a brief in-air scuffle between a hawk and a falcon.

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About an hour after I left, Peter emailed a photo of a hawk that perched right outside his window. Only pigeons had been there when I visited.

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Speaking of pigeons, he also worked with the Peerless staff to help with their pigeon problem. You can read about it here. You should also check out Peter’s photography of 111 Westminster Street, the Superman Building. He’s created a full series of images of the building and the changing sky behind it, taken from his loft.

Thanks so much, Peter, for inviting me into your home and taking me on a great tour of the city. From now on I’ll be the one walking around town staring up at the tops of buildings and bumping into things.

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