Thanksgiving at the Bloomingdale Trail

Headed to Chicago for a Thanksgiving meal with the family, I thought I’d take advantage of the Windy City’s version of the High Line. Arriving early, I got a section tour of the structure from The Trust for Public Land‘s Laura Uhlir. Half the height of the High Line (15 feet tall) and wider than 30 feet across in some places, Chicago’s elevated railroad runs east-west, connecting various northwest neighborhoods (Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park). Running 2.7 miles long, the Bloomingdale Trail is longer than the High Line, and includes 37 viaduct bridges over streets.

Bloomingdale Trail looking west from the Kimball Street Access Point. The Canadian Pacific Railroad occasionally stores cars up on the unused tracks.

In 1998, the City of Chicago recognized the trail as a potential public space. Since then, City and community support for the project has grown, with the help of Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail. The group began in 2003, and four years later the Bloomingdale Trail Collaborative was formed out of an alliance between the Friends and the national organization Trust for Public Land,  in partnership with the City.

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Vancouver’s High Line?

The Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts. Image from The Vancouver Sun.

The City of Vancouver could potentially redevelop its twin viaducts, Georgia and Dunsmuir, as public open space, according to a recent article in Vancouver’s Georgia Straight. Former Vision Vancouver councilor Jim Green imagines these two overpasses as Canada’s first “High Line-style promenades.” However, others at the City are pushing for the viaducts to be torn down and replaced with office and residential buildings.

Green states, “One of the things that we could do is to make bicycle lanes and pedestrian park space up there…You could really enliven two different areas of Vancouver.” The existing land holds two sports arenas and connects downtown Vancouver to Strathcona, one of the city’s oldest residential neighborhoods. The viaducts were originally built in 1913 for streetcars, and were incorporated in 1972 into Vancouver’s freeway system.

Will Vancouver build Canada’s first elevated pedestrian park, and join the growing ranks of other international cities following in the footsteps of the High Line? Stay tuned…

Save the Embankment!

The Harsimus Stem Embankment, Jersey City. Photos by Robert Hammond

The Harsimus Stem Embankment, Jersey City. Photos by Robert Hammond

On Sunday, Co-Founder Robert Hammond headed over to Jersey City for the Embankment Preservation Coalition‘s annual members and supporters meeting. He reports back on the High Line’s sister project, which is just getting, well, off the ground:

“I was blown away immediately upon spotting the half-mile structure that once carried freight for the Pennsylvania Railroad.  The Embankment holds an untouched beauty, and really reminded me of the feelings I had years ago in the early days of the High Line. It’s a quick PATH ride from the High Line to Jersey City, and it’s another amazing opportunity for a great linear public space.  The Coalition project really needs support right now, so I urge you to check out their Web site to find out more and see what you can do.

Image from the Embankment Preservation Coalition's website. Shows the view from up on the embankment.

Photo from the Embankment's Web site, showing the view.

“The Embankment is six acres of space broken into six segments which were originally connected by metal bridges and are now separated by city streets. It runs west to east through a residential neighborhood, and ends overlooking the river, practically right across from the High Line. While the Embankment is much wider than the High Line, measuring 100 feet across, and considerably lower to the ground, the landscape is reminiscent of the High Line’s original wilderness. When I went the fall colors were spectacular– it was an easy sell.”

After the break, more photos, and info on the future plans for the Embankment.

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New Adventures in Composting

compost

The gardeners working on the High Line are reflections of their workspace: exciting, sturdy, 30 feet off the ground, and working toward sustainability in all its various forms. Gardener Meg Graham recently gave a presentation to her fellow planstpeople about her visit to Growing Power, a community urban farm she recently visited in Milwaukee. In sharing her thoughts, she vividly described for her coworkers a process called vermicomposting, which in this case involved broken dryers, worms, and dirt cubes.

You can view a clip from her excellent presentation on this composting method here [PDF].

Save Jersey City’s High Line– Deadline Tomorrow!

embankmentLike the High Line? Want to help with our sister project? Now’s your chance!

The Harsimus Stem Embankment, an elevated stone structure that runs for a half mile along 6th street in downtown Jersey City needs your help. The Embankment Preservation Coalition is the non-profit group working to preserve the Embankment, develop its top as  open space, and integrate the site into a network of local and regional pedestrian and biking trails.

The Coalition needs as many supporters as possible to immediately file an environmental comment with the Surface Transportation Board– the same government body through which the High Line is preserved.

The process is simple, and only takes a moment. Click here to view the instructions on how to help and to help preserve an “irreplaceable historic and environemental resource.” The deadline is April 7th at 4:00 PM, so act now!

View the action alert here.
View the Harsimus Stem Embankment Website here.

Freshkills Park Blog and Tours

Fresh Kills Park

[Aerial rendering of Freshkills Park, via flickr.]

Freshkills Park, our other favorite future New York City Park designed by Field Operations, recently launched a blog. Updated by members of the team developing the park at the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the Freshkills Park Blog is a great source for photos, updates, and lots of fascinating information about the largest park to be developed in New York City in more than 100 years.

Check out the blog for more information about free public tours of Freshkills Park, which begin this Saturday, April 4th, and continue every other week through the fall. (If you’re looking for something to do after checking out the site, the blog also offers daytrip suggestions [PDF] for the area.)

Majora Carter passes on the torch at Sustainable South Bronx

Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), the Bronx-based non-profit, announced today that Founder and environmental justice champion Majora Carter will be stepping down from her post as Executive Director. 

Deputy Director Miquela Craytor has been promoted to fill her rather large shoes and will continue to lead this groundbreaking organization, which is a force for innovation in the South Bronx, and serves as a model for communities across the globe.

Ms. Carter will continue to offer strategic support to SSBx while pursuing a wide array of new opportunities, including her own consulting business focusing on the economic potential of green-collar employment opportunities.  

We at the High Line are continually impressed with the work she has done on behalf of her own neighborhood, environmental justice issues, as well as the welfare of communities across the globe.  We wish her the best in her future endeavors and are excited to see where Ms. Craytor leads SSBx.

For more articles and info about Majora Carter, check out:

Carter Discusses Need to ‘Green the Ghetto’ at U.Va.  [UVA Today]

Carrying the Olympic Torch, and Protesting It, Too   [New York Times]

Biography: Majora Carter  [CNN.com] 

How the Bronx Turned Green  [The Root]