The transformation of urban blight into parks and greenways in the past few decades has turned many abandoned city blocks, rusting structures and landfills into pleasant go-to places. New York City’s High Line was an abandoned elevated train track until community organizers lobbied for its preservation and then, in partnership with the City of New York, transformed it into a meandering urban park that opened in 2009. The High Line has now become such a popular tourist destination that some residents are exasperated about excessive tourist traffic.
On a more positive note, the renovation of the High Line has inspired other communities to turn deserted transportation lines into parks with walkways and bike paths. A recent study indeed links more trees with lower crime rates in Philadelphia: researchers from Temple University write that “maintained greenery encourages social interaction and community supervision of public spaces, as well the calming effect that vegetated landscapes may impart, thus reducing psychological precursors to violent acts.”
While it’s not entirely certain if the presence of trees and vegetation reduces crime, there’s no question that it’s more than welcoming to see parks and wildlife preserves where urban blight once existed. Here are ten examples of such “greened” up spots around the world:
1. Albany Bulb
This former landfill operated by the city of Albany in northern California now has a sandy beach, is home to wildlife including songbirds and offers a view of the Golden Gate Bridge across the bay. It still contains an encampment with a fluctuating population of residents and art created from detritus like that of sculptures of the now-gone Emeryville Mud Flats.
Photo by Josh Hawley/Flickr.
2. Bastion Theresia Timisoara in Romania
The Bastion was an 18-century fortress that was left empty for decades in the center of the city of Timisoara. It has been redesigned into a park with bicycle paths and a community center. The architecture firm that renovated the Bastion used materials that would “age nicely” — namely, “copper-sheets, wooden carpentry with non-ferous metallic inserts, plasters and paints based on lime, as well as metal structures easy to eliminate.”
Photo by Goliath/Wikimedia Commons.
3. Bukit Tagar Landfill in Malaysia
Bukit Tagar is still a working landfill, but is described as a “sanitary” one that that uses natural resources such as reed beds in its purification system and for absorbing leachate, the liquid that drains from stockpiled materials which often contains concentrations of chemicals and other substances. The Bukit Tagar landfill is actually home to many tropical birds and is designed to produce renewable energy via a “comprehensive landfill gas (LFG) management strategy” and also by developing solar power.
Photo of wildlife in Selangor via Peter Gronemann/Wikimedia Commons
4. Chambers Gully in suburban Adelaide
Once a local landfill, Chambers Gully is now a wildlife haven and a home for koala bears. While many of the parks and places listed here were funded by governments, the Chambers Gully is unique in that it was reclaimed and created almost entirely by volunteers.
Video from YouTube
5. The Delancey Underground
Efforts are underway to create an underground equivalent to the High Line in New York City. In the early 20th century, trolleys ran underground between the Lower East Side and Brooklyn. Preservationists hope to turn the 1.5 acres of terminal where the trolley cars were turned around into an urban “lowline” space that would use “remote skylight” technology to filter light via an optical system and fiber cables.
Video from YouTube
Photo of the High Line by joevare/Flickr
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