January 12th, 2016

reinventing the underpass in Toronto

Underpass Park in Toronto, Canada

What comes to mind when we write “freeway underpass?” It’s likely that whatever you pictured didn’t involve thoughtfully composed landscaping, actively used pathways or cool art installations. This article by Alissa Walker explores how cities across the country are reinventing the underpass, perhaps one of the most neglected of city spaces.

reinventing the underpass in Miami

Rendering of The Underline in Miami, Florida

Reinventing public space into something that’s actually usable for the public is near to our hearts. Examples we’ve written about before are projects like PROXY in San Francisco and the High Line in New York City, two urban areas that were reinvented from parking lots and derelict elevated railway lines, respectively, as spaces for people to hang-out, play and enjoy.

Inspired by Alissa’s article, we set out to find a few more examples of reclaimed underpass space in cities near PUBLIC Stores. If you’ve been to an underpass park or live near one, drop us a line with a photo and we’ll add your city to this list!

1. Burnside Skatepark in Portland, Oregon
reinventing the underpass in Portland
Once a renegade spot for illegal skateboarding, Burnside Skatepark was getting so much use it eventually won favor from the community and became city approved.

2. I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park in Seattle, Washington
reinventing the underpass in Seattle
Cool story. The I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park in Seattle was built by a team of volunteers and includes over 2 acres of bike track and walking paths. It’s part of a larger 7.5 acre park.

3. SoMa West Skate and Dog Park in San Francisco, California.
reinventing the underpass in San Francisco
The SoMa West Skate and Dog Park in San Francisco includes a sanctioned space for skaters to shred and a little artificial turn for letting city dogs run around.

4. Proposed Wildlife Overpass in Los Angeles, California.
reinventing the underpass in Los Angeles

Ok, so not an underpass, but worth mentioning. This proposed 165-foot-wide, 200-foot-long overpass would allow large carnivores like wildcats and bobcats a means of getting from one set of mountains to the other without ending up as roadkill.

SUBMITTED BY OUR READERS
Christine writes: “San Jose just finished a public art project under two underpasses in downtown.”

600-san-jose-underpass

Art display under Highway 87 in San Jose, Photo by San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs.

SM writes: “New Orleans has a skate park called Parasite built under the freeway. It was built by Tulane City Center, a LLC ran by Tulane Faculty, Tulane School of Architecture Students and community member/organizations.”

10 Responses to “Reinventing The Underpass”

    • Nicole Faraclas

      Thanks Christine! This is a great addition. Very cool to see.

  1. Lynda

    Thank you so much for continuing to highlight these welcome additions to “public” spaces. The inspiration from volunteer and community created underpass uses should provoke better uses for underpasses eventually supported by the whole community.

    • Nicole Faraclas

      Hi Lynda, we couldn’t agree more. We’re so inspired by communities that come together to create new uses for underserved public space. It’s so cool to see parks like these both created and used. Thanks for letting us know you’d like more of this content.

  2. sm

    Hi,

    New Orleans has a skate park called Parasite built under the freeway. It was built by Tulane City Center, a LLC ran by Tulane Faculty, Tulane School of Architecture Students and community member/organizations.

    • Nicole Faraclas

      Wow! That’s so cool to know about. Thanks so much for the inform. We’ll add it to our growing list.

    • Nicole Faraclas

      Thanks Jeff! So rad! Can’t wait to see the final project.

  3. FRANK

    The Colonnade Mountain Bike Park in Seattle sounds like such a great option for riding my bike to.