When a railroad becomes defunct, what happens to the tracks and stations left over? All too often, they are abandoned to overgrowth and rot. However, in a few special cases, the community takes the railroad structures and turns them into a unique new public space, fit for the enjoyment of all. Here are a few of those unique converted railroads.
1. High Line – New York, New York (above)
New York’s High Line is an elevated public park built atop a historic freight railway, running in a 1.45 mile long stretch above the streets of New York City. It’s home to over 150 native plant species, as well as lofty views and peaceful greenery.
Photo Credit: Iwan Bann, High Line Park
2. LEGO Bridge – Wuppertal, Germany
This bizarre and beautiful structure used to be part of the old Wuppertal Bewegung e.V. train line, but with the help of street artist Martin Heuwold of Megx, it’s now part of a new 10-mile bicycle and walking path.
Photo Credit: Colossal
3. Hofbogen – Rotterdam, The Netherlands
What used to be Rotterdam’s old elevated train track will now become an elevated, eco-friendly park! It was specially designed to reduce the city’s CO2 footprint, by funneling waste heat to warm the old pre-war buildings surrounding it.
Photo Credit: Doepel Strijkers
4. Transbay Transit Center – San Francisco, California
The Transbay Transit Center used to be a busy train terminal and then a bus terminal, but has nonetheless been slowly falling out of use. After an extensive retrofitting, its newest manifestation will be as a terminal for the new high-speed rail. The cherry on top? Above the terminal, there will be a 5.4 acre elevated park, complete with display gardens, cafes, and playgrounds.
Image Credit: Transbay Center
5. The Bloomingdale Trail – Chicago, IL
Although it won’t be completed until 2014, Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail is slated to be yet another marvelous example of rail-to-park conversion. It will include space for bicycle paths, runners, and trees. Interestingly enough, the stretch of old railway it will be built upon crosses through four different Chicago neighborhoods of varying socioeconomic status—now that’s a green way to bring together local communities!
Image Credit: Pop-Up City