We want you to rethink your idea of what makes a modern city. Sure, there’s bound to be some crowding and giant structures, but urban residents are getting inventive with how they resolve the hurdles of city living. In metropolises all over the country, wasted land is utilized in creative ways; now let’s look at six more examples of urban spaces adapted to better the lifestyles of their citizens.
Dallas, Texas: Klyde Warren Park
We’ve discussed the possibilities of ways to use land under a freeway, but what about the space above it? First proposed in the 1960’s and fully realized in 2012, Klyde Warren Park offers street-level access to a “deck park” over the freeway, connecting Dallas residents across neighborhoods with plenty of amenities to enjoy. A restaurant, a performance space, a dog park, botanical gardens and a promenade are just some of the wonderful elements that make up this 5.2-acre oasis in the middle of downtown Dallas.
Los Angeles, California: LA Green Grounds
For the residents of South Central Los Angeles, fresh food was hard to come by. This “food desert” needed a creative solution, and the minds behind LA Green Grounds had a brilliant plan: turning front yards into edible gardens! Members of this grassroots movement host “dig-ins,” where people meet to help transform their neighbor’s grass into a nutritious answer to their needs. Everyone learns how to maintain and keep their gardens thriving, while creating a strong sense of community at the same time. Who needs wasted lawn space when you can put it to work for you?
Brooklyn, New York: 596 Acres
The first step to getting land developed is letting people know what land is actually available. With hundreds of acres of unused land in New York City, 596 Acres provides necessary tools to help citizens easily and legally find ways to put them to use (the name comes from the 596 vacant acres in Brooklyn alone). Community gardens all across the borough have been brought to life from nothing thanks to the support and resources of of this nonprofit. I for one am excited to see what’s next for my home! The best way to see your city progress is to take initiative and start something yourself.
Portland, Oregon: The City Repair Project
Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference in the happiness of city residents. The City Repair Project organizes thousands of volunteers to brighten up dismal-looking city streets, often by hand-painting vibrant murals. Each piece is thoughtfully planned out with the specific neighborhood in mind, and the community has enthusiastically supported the project. With some of the murals acting as a response to deaths and downfalls in certain areas, it’s nice to see how the simple act of painting can bring comfort to so many people.
San Francisco, California: PROXY
Since most cities change too rapidly to justify big, permanent changes, the group behind PROXY found a flexible way to provide entertainment to the citizens of San Francisco. This two-block temporary installation uses shipping containers housing a rotating cast of local businesses in one area. Current vendors include a bike shop, juicery, clothing store and a personal training business, and they also host fun community events such as movie nights and block parties.
Seattle, Washington: I5 Colonnade Free Ride Park
Back in the 1960’s, the Interstate 5 was a major divisive presence in Seattle, and the space underneath it was largely ignored. Luckily for locals, the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance delivered a really creative solution: the I5 Colonnade, the first urban mountain bike park…ever. The city turned something unsightly into something truly unique; a bike park that features trails, drops, skill parks and a suspension bridge. With one mode of transportation overhead, an alternative method reigns supreme below.
We’d love to hear about the creative urban development projects in your city! Let us know in the comments.