Blog » urban parks
- December 1, 2009BY ELIZABETH HOLDEN
Fall programming concluded November 18th with bikes, parks and policy in the City of Light. Writer and lecturer Marilyn Clemens illustrated current trends in Parisian roadway and park design, which follow the geometry of the classical era, while also redefining the purpose of public space. The Alliance Française generously sponsored the event.
Clemens reported walking as the most popular method of circulation, and the city of Paris plans accordingly for its pedestrians. From small alleys to the Champs-Élysées, streets of all sizes have taken lanes away from cars and given to pedestrians. Cyclists are also a priority, with over 230 miles of new bikeways in the works. And while bicycle sharing has faced challenges, Vélib’ remains popular throughout France.
A partnership of the planning department with the department of the environment prompted a new focus on sustainability in the parks, using educational programs and exhibitions to promote the message. Innovations in park design set new precedents. The Promenade Plantée (pictured) runs for nearly three miles along an abandoned railway viaduct. Completed in 1995, the green space inspired New York City's High Line. The beautiful elevated space caters to both bikers and walkers, making it easy for Parisians to take the high road.
[Image: Marilyn Clemens]
- June 23, 2009BY MARY
Earlier this month, after ten years of advocacy from neighbors, activists and artists alike, the first of three sections of New York's High Line park opened for visitors. The 1.45 mile-long park is situated on a defunct 19th century elevated train track that used to carry cattle into the Meatpacking District, but had been left standing since 1980, when nature adopted it, and turned it wild with grasses and wildflowers--a magical place for those who knew about it. James Corner, the landscape architect endeavored with transitioning the old rail into public space, created a design that maintains some tenor of abandonment and "retain[s] that quality of wildness and melancholy." At three stories high, the park runs from the Hudson, between buildings and crosses avenues and streets, giving the visitor a new prospect of the city and a fantastic place to be a voyeur.