Making use of Highway Dead Space

In  many cities, highways cut the city up, acting as barriers between neighbourhoods.  They block off parkland and waterfront from easy pedestrian access.  Urban highways aren’t going away any time soon, but cities are making strides to work around overpasses (or below, in this case).

Toronto just opened Underpass Park as part of an overall revitalization of Toronto’s Waterfront, and in preparation for Toronto’s hosting of the 2015 PanAm games.  It includes a playground for children, basketball courts, and (I think best of all) a skate park.  Development has yet to be completed around the park, leaving it sort of isolated for now.  But it’s great to see the city taking innovative steps forward, and thinking about what will get people into this park – what will get people using this park.  And I think the skate park is a great way to do that – and it’s a great sign we’ve stopped be so scared of skateboards in the city.

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2 thoughts on “Making use of Highway Dead Space

  1. A few cities have already made use of underpass space – the community rowing centre in Albany, NY is under a highway and adjacent to a bunch of very lovely green space; in Troy, just across the river from Albany, there’s a couple of basketball courts under a highway. And Chicago has been making use of the space underneath the El since it was built – I think Chicago should be the first port of call for anyone looking for ideas on underpass space.

    That said, this is the first I’ve seen of a large-scale redevelopment that uses a functioning (versus derelict, ie the High Line) transport corridor as the anchor for open space redevelopment. Its great. And what a nice little video, too!

    • ritchiei says:

      Yeah, and Milwaukee uses active underpass space for parking lots, which I think is a pretty good use of the space. I feel like sometimes there is so much focus on dead space (reusing old railways for things like rails for trails or the highline, which i really want to go to) that we forget about “active” dead space like this. Can’t focus on one at the expense of another

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