Editor’s Note: We are going to acknowledge right off the bat that this post is based on Gizmodo’s fantastic piece, “6 Freeway Removals That Changed Their Cities Forever”
Once upon a time, the automobile was born. Wheat-chewing farmers and cigar-chomping industrialists regarded the new machine with wonder and avarice, respectively. Baseball-loving boys and gradually-liberated girls clambered over the new horseless wagons as the newest plaything. And city councilmen cracked open cases of cigarettes, pouring burnt coffee into environmentally-unsound paper cup after environmentally-unsound paper cup as they stayed late at the office, trying to figure out how their city was going to handle the inevitable coming of the gasoline traveler.
Many of these freeways—like I-440 around Raleigh—handled the new wave of traffic just fine, and have even had to be widened. But some freeways never received the traffic they were built to handle. Other freeways received too much traffic with nearby viable roads receiving very little. In either case, inefficiency was happening. When city freeways are overloaded, it can create smog, pollution, a decrease in health, increase of crime and even a raising of cities’ internal temperatures.
Instead of expanding overstrained roadways, some cities have chosen a different route altogether: they’ve demolished them.
Despite arguments that this would only make matters worse, traffic flowed to other areas of town and created an explosion of nature, good health and a shift in the cities’ cultures. Streams, rivers, bicyclists, joggers, street vendors and pedestrians have all laid claim to these miles of new space. We’ve included a few photos here, but you should check out the examples in San Francisco, Seoul, Portland, Milwaukee, Madrid, Seattle, and plans for the same in Dallas, Texas and Rochester, New York.
What do you think about this concept? Are there areas in our city that you think could benefit from it? If nothing else, we hope this prompts new thinking about roadways and city development.