Posted on August 17, 2015 by Kathy Blaha
“…the fair is fun, southwest style, but what San Antonio does with the center-city site after October will be the real measure of Hemisfair’s success.”
Ada Louise Huxtable, Architecture Critic
New York Times, April 4, 1968
The 1968 world’s fair is the beginning of this story. The fair was built on a 92-acre site on the southeastern edge of downtown San Antonio, acquired mainly through eminent domain. Many structures in what was considered a blighted area were demolished and moved to make room for the fair, with some more important historic sites spared and preserved.
From April to October in 1968, about six million visitors came to the city. In typical fair planning, once the fair was complete the city lacked a good transition plan. So they put a fence around it and the site sat unimproved for 47 years.
It was a fantastic location for the fair, on the River Walk and near the convention center. In fact, the fair changed perceptions about the struggling River Walk and the city that reinvigorated its draw as a tourist destination. Continue reading
Filed under: employment, funding, maintenance/management, partnerships, planning, renewal | Tagged: Andres Andujar, Hemisfair, Kathy Blaha, redevelopment, san antonio, Texas, Worlds Fair | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 29, 2015 by Kathy Blaha
“The question is: How do you improve access to parks and open space but not trigger this shift in property values and land uses that completely transform a community?”
Jennifer Wolch, Dean of the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley
My last blog post included a look at Chicago’s new 606 trail and related discussions about gentrification and how the project will impact the neighborhoods it passes through. Beth White, Chicago Director for The Trust for Public Land, a sponsor of the project, says that the overall goal is “to give everyone a walk in the park and connect people to nature, each other, public transit, and bike trails.” She notes that the Bloomingdale Trail will reunite four ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods and that their 80,000 residents, nearly a third of them children, have been separated by the railway since it was built in 1910.
Filed under: economics, funding, green infrastructure, maintenance/management, partnerships, planning, renewal, transportation | Tagged: gentrification, green economics, Kathy Blaha, real estate, urban park value | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 30, 2015 by Kathy Blaha
The new 606 is open in Chicago – a mix of 2.7 miles of elevated trail with four ground-level parks along the route. Amidst the excitement of this new linear park, which will bridge four neighborhoods historically underserved by parks, is the familiar cautionary tale about its potential gentrifying impact. Like New York’s High Line, the badly needed park amenity is being viewed partly in light of its negative effects on the neighborhood it was designed to serve. (The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl said about the High Line, “As a catalyst of neighborhood change, the High Line has been to usual gentrification what a bomb is to bottle rockets.”)
But the issue of the impact of a new park on property values – and the resulting displacement of longtime residents by the rising cost of housing – is worth a thoughtful analysis. Are we blaming parks for increasing property values, or might that be better explained as the result of the state of the housing market and public policy? Continue reading
Filed under: economics, maintenance/management, planning, renewal, transportation | Tagged: 606, Brooklyn Bridge Park, chicago, gentrification, housing, real estate | 4 Comments »
Posted on June 11, 2015 by Angelina Horn
Each month, City Parks Alliance names one “Frontline Park” as a standout example of urban park excellence, innovation and stewardship from across the country. The program identifies city parks that find innovative ways to meet the unique challenges faced as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures and urban neighborhood decay. In recognition of its partnerships and community capacity building, Mestizo-Curtis Park has been named a Frontline Park.
Built in 1868, Mestizo-Curtis Park is the oldest park in the city of Denver, boasting mature trees, aged red sandstone paths, and some of the best views of the city’s skyline. Located in a district close to downtown and other commercial corridors, the park has grown and changed with Denver, hosting everything from the city’s first playground to massive political rallies. In 1998, the word Mestizo (“a mix of cultures”) was added to the name in order to better reflect the diversity of the surrounding neighborhood.
Filed under: crime & safety, facilities, funding, partnerships, programming, renewal | Tagged: denver, Five Points, Frontline Parks, Mestizo-Curtis Park, TPL | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 27, 2015 by Kathy Blaha
Susan Rademacher, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s Curator, has written a new book on Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square, its history and its recent rehabilitation by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy which, at first glance, is a paean to great landscape design. It is a jewel of an example of how a small public space when designed right can have a huge impact on a downtown or in this case, an entire city and over time.
Mellon Square: Discovering a Modern Masterpiece, the second in a series by the Cultural Landscape Foundation (Princeton Architectural Press, $24.95), traces the Square from its original design and construction in 1955 through its evolution as a public space that manages to stay relevant and foundational for over 50 years in a city that suffered its share of economic ups and downs. Continue reading
Filed under: economics, funding, partnerships, planning, renewal | Tagged: Kathy Blaha, Mellon Square, pittsburgh, Susan Rademacher | Leave a comment »