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Green Travel

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Urban Renewal Awards, Los Angeles State Historic Park

For most of the 20th century, this large plot of land in downtown Los Angeles was used as an immense Union Pacific railroad yard. When Union Pacific closed shop in 1989, the property laid dormant until 2001. As California State Parks hemmed and hawed about how best to convert the space into a park, artist Lauren Bon, backed by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation, had her own ideas. With the help of The Trust for Public Land, they excavated some 5,000 tons of soil contaminated with hydrocarbons and metals, planted more than a million corn seeds, and installed an irrigation system to create her artwork, Not a Cornfield. The large crop has now been harvested to make way for bike trails and fields of wildflowers. Los Angeles State Historic Park is still being landscaped, but close to half of the property is open to the public.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/03/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Urban Renewal Awards, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle

The curved rusted steel of Richard Serra’s Wake (2004) resembles the hull of a ship, perfectly suited for Seattle’s seafaring tradition. Children run around the large structure, warned by their parents not to touch. Other families meander by Calder’s tall, red Eagle (1971), eyeing the iconic Space Needle in the background. A dog walker ambles past one of Oldenburg’s signature typewriter erasers, following the zig-zag trail that rises above railroad tracks and leads to the waters of Puget Sound and the snowcapped peaks that stand tall in the horizon. 

Unveiled in January 2007, Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park is a glorious addition to the city’s waterfront. It’s even more remarkable when you understand the history behind this 9-acre parcel of land.  For more than 60 years, this section of Belltown was dotted with oil tanks owned by UNOCAL (Union Oil Company of California). The petroleum seeped into the land creating a brownfield that would take over a decade to clean up when operations ceased in 1975. Yet, today, the once vacated industrial wharf is now brimming with life as more than a half-million people visited Olympic Sculpture Park in its first year.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/02/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, February 01, 2010

Urban Renewal Awards—First Stop, High Line Park, Manhattan

The latest trend in urban design is blurring the line between civilization and nature to create parks from contaminated sites, landfills, and abandoned manufacturing plants. This week, I want to focus on green spaces that were once urban eyesores and are now popular spots to walk, bike, and simply be outdoors. For decades, the High Line served as an elevated railway track that brought freight into Manhattan. By 1980, the trains had stopped running and the tracks were sliding into decay that, somewhat remarkable, was also a kind of blossoming. Nature re-established itself as saplings and wind-sown grasses sprouted in the rail beds. The trees took root and so did an inkling of an idea, almost Seuss-like, to create a public space that would be 30-feet high above the city and nearly 1.5 miles long. What a way to see New York, from above!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/01/10 at 02:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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