lunes, 5 de julio de 2010

Embarcadero (San Francisco), there was a highway and now ....

Following Onesimo Flores´blog I discovered a video that can illustrate one of the most commented posts lately. In Hardware y software, un país lleno de autopistas vacías , one side topics was the possible removal of large urban infrastructure and conversion into public spaces. Some examples where mentioned such as the High Line in New York, South Parco Solare in Calabria (Italy) or the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, in South Korea.
Last summer I had the chance to know San Francisco and I wrote some notes on the blog that gave me the impression visit this Californian city: San Francisco, una ciudad en la bahía, Serendipia urbana #6: San Francisco (EE.UU). Barrio de Mission or Serendipia urbana #5: San Francisco (EE.UU) Ciudades educadoras . One of the things I could not find the time to comment on was my impression of the waterfront of the city in the area of Embarcadero and up to Marina and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but this video is a good chance to share some thoughts about this area that was occupied until late eighties of last century by a highway lane that constituted a wall between the city and its coast. However, the 1989 earthquake severely damaged the infrastructure and this was used as an opportunity to renew and rethink this area to find alternative uses. You can find more information about it here and here.

Embarcadero seems to be another good example of how to gain public urban space demolishing obsolete infrastructure and gaining livable spaces, green areas and better integration of transport in urbanism. It was surprising while walking to discover that most of this area is mainly public, taking into account that this piece of the waterfront may be very appreciated for developers. I have to confess the part of Embarcadero reserved to retail uses in the waterfront, as the Pier 39 - looked like a scenery for shopping rather than an authentic place, but in general I thought  it is a luxury for a city to have an open space of these scale well connected to with an even more surprising area, the park leading to the Golden Gate, a huge green location that leads to the famous bridge to demonstrate the value of open spaces for public use in our cities.
The video is from Street Films, an initiative of Open Plans, an organization that is producing very accurate audiovisual materials related to transport, recovery of public spaces, etc.

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