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Headed to Chicago for a Thanksgiving meal with the family, I thought I'd take advantage of the Windy City's version of the High Line. Arriving early, I got a section tour of the structure from The Trust for Public Land's Laura Uhlir. Half the height of the High Line (15 feet tall) and wider than 30 feet across in some places, Chicago's elevated railroad runs east-west, connecting various northwest neighborhoods (Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park). Running 2.7 miles long, the Bloomingdale Trail is longer than the High Line, and includes 37 viaduct bridges over streets.

pipeBloomingdale Trail looking west from the Kimball Street Access Point.
The Canadian Pacific Railroad occasionally stores cars up on the unused tracks.
 

In 1998, the City of Chicago recognized the trail as a potential public space. Since then, City and community support for the project has grown, with the help of Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail. The group began in 2003, and four years later the Bloomingdale Trail Collaborative was formed out of an alliance between the Friends and the national organization Trust for Public Land,  in partnership with the City.

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vancouverThe Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts. Image from The Vancouver Sun.
 
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harsimus stem embankmentThe Harsimus Stem Embankment, Jersey City. Photos by Robert Hammond
 

On Sunday, Co-Founder Robert Hammond headed over to Jersey City for the Embankment Preservation Coalition's annual members and supporters meeting. He reports back on the High Line's sister project, which is just getting, well, off the ground:

"I was blown away immediately upon spotting the half-mile structure that once carried freight for the Pennsylvania Railroad.  The Embankment holds an untouched beauty, and really reminded me of the feelings I had years ago in the early days of the High Line. It's a quick PATH ride from the High Line to Jersey City, and it's another amazing opportunity for a great linear public space.  The Coalition project really needs support right now, so I urge you to check out their Web site to find out more and see what you can do.


embankmentPhoto from the Embankment's Web site, showing the view.
 

"The Embankment is six acres of space broken into six segments which were originally connected by metal bridges and are now separated by city streets. It runs west to east through a residential neighborhood, and ends overlooking the river, practically right across from the High Line. While the Embankment is much wider than the High Line, measuring 100 feet across, and considerably lower to the ground, the landscape is reminiscent of the High Line's original wilderness. When I went the fall colors were spectacular – it was an easy sell."

[After the break, more photos, and info on the future plans for the Embankment.]


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Like the High Line? Want to help with our sister project? Now's your chance!

The Harsimus Stem Embankment, an elevated stone structure that runs for a half mile along 6th street in downtown Jersey City needs your help. The Embankment Preservation Coalition is the non-profit group working to preserve the Embankment, develop its top as  open space, and integrate the site into a network of local and regional pedestrian and biking trails.

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Sanaya Kaufman
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Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), the Bronx-based non-profit, announced today that Founder and environmental justice champion Majora Carter will be stepping down from her post as Executive Director. 

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robertatthehighline
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When people hear I am from San Antonio they often ask if I hope the High Line becomes like the River Walk. The answer is no. The River Walk is designed for tourists, and my dream is that the High Line is first and foremost a well-loved park for New Yorkers that visitors may also enjoy.


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But San Antonio now has the opportunity to be known for a wholly different kind of public space that's designed for residents, not tourists, and it makes an inspiring story.

The last, large tract of undeveloped land just a few miles from downtown's River Walk was the 311-acre Voelcker Dairy Farm. Most of the property had not been cultivated and looked like the land settlers saw when they first came to the area. Some of the trees there were standing at the time of the Battle of the Alamo -- all within the bounds of the tenth largest city in the country.  Plans were in the works to sell the property for housing developments.  Instead the City, at the Mayor's initiative, bought all 311 acres and set about to preserve the landscape and turn it into Voelcker Park, which will be the city's largest park.

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And it keeps getting better. Them they hired the team of Steven Stimson Associates and D.I.R.T Studio to oversee the development of a master plan. D.I.R.T is led by one of my favorite landscape designers, Julie Bargmann.
Their winning competition entry is after the jump.


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