Friday, January 20, 2012

Turning Parking Lots and Urban Highways into Parks

In Madrid’s Heart, Park Blooms Where a Freeway Once Blighted (Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, Dec. 26, 2011)

Also discussed here : Parks in, Cars not out? Is that going to be our future? (World Streets, Dec. 27, 2011)

And here: Madrid Rio (8 slides)

Today the focus is on an article which reviews the large number of cities worldwide which have replaced their highways with parks, rivers and areas to be enjoyed by their citizens, instead of adding to the blight of inner city slums intersected by polluting roads. The highlight is on Madrid Rio in Spain’s capital which appears to have transformed the entire city, as can be seen in the slideshow linked below.

Key Quotes:

“All around the world, highways are being torn down and waterfronts reclaimed; decades of thinking about cars and cities reversed; new public spaces created.”

San Francisco, the 1989 earthquake overcame years of entrenched thinking: the Embarcadero Freeway was taken down, which reconnected the city with its now glorious waterfront.

“Seoul, the removal of a stretch of highway along the now-revived Gaecheon stream has made room for a five-mile-long recreation area called Cheonggyecheon

Milwaukee, the destruction of the Park East freeway spur has liberated acres of downtown for parks and neighborhood development

the nearly-30-year, bank-busting Big Dig fiasco made Boston a better place by tunneling a downtown highway, though it was obviously nobody’s idea of a stellar urban redevelopment project.

New York, .. tearing down the Sheridan Expressway… to replace it with homes, commercial spaces, playgrounds, swimming pools and soccer fields arrayed along the Bronx River.

Madrid.. Its creation, in four years, atop a complex network of tunnels dug to bury an intrusive highway, .. Twenty-seven miles of new tunnels were dug; countless tons of granite installed to make paths and fountains; some 8,000 pine trees planted.

Chicago, to push through something big and great that is entirely for the public, like Millennium Park, 24.5 downtown acres of cultural attractions risen largely from rail yards and parking lots.
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