As mentioned yesterday, we had a very lively discussion on Twitter last week spawned by us going to visit The High Line in New York. For those unfamiliar, the High Line is a public park built upon a former railroad track that was going to be demolished but was saved by concerned neighbors wanting to save their neighborhood and do something good. The result is a floating park that gives you a nice walk through a Western corridor of the city. This endeavor has revitalized an entire area of New York, saved a historic piece of the city, gotten people to go outside and enjoy nature, and brought a community together while building a new one.
The one question we had the entire time being there? “What could Los Angeles High Line be?” We thought we’d take a minute to deconstruct what that would entail.
The High Line in New York succeeds because it unites neighborhoods and gets people outside, building a community in a space that was planned to be demolished: it brought life from rehabilitation. As we all know, Los Angeles has many places that need rehabilitating and that could serve as a point of unification. The problem though is that unlike the High Line we don’t have an area that stretches between neighborhoods without feeling forced or unantural. Let’s examine a few theories from our Twitter friends and some that we thought up that could be *our* High Line.
The Silver Lake Green Space
Why It Could Work: As we know, the Silver Lake Green Space is already car free and has been for some time. It’s the home to the weekly Farmers Market and is a meeting place for people to sit and hang out in the area. It’s by some restaurants and entrenched in a community that already wants to be outside and interacting with the environment.
Why It Might Not Work: It’s small. The means of expansion from here are very limited and would only unite Silver Lake to Silver Lake. If the Green Space stretched into Sunset Blvd., that would mean a major traffic clog, pushing people through neighborhoods that are already too traversed. If the green space ventures into the neighborhood, it will have the same affect and will screw over people parking. Sure, the point of this would be to get people outside and reduce driving–but you’d have to drive to get there.
Consensus: This would be no good. It’s already not that great…
The Brentwood/Westwood VA Corridor
Why It Could Work: We’ve biked through this area before and it is already pretty desolate and green, a park dedicated to Veterans. A lot of the area is closed off to cars aside from parking areas. You could ostensibly close a part of Wilshire from UCLA to the National Cemetery, diverting into both the Veterans Park and the VA Center. It could be a great way to tie the neighborhoods and provide a nice space for our veterans.
Why It Might Not Work: It’s really a busy area with the 405. If you were to shut down some streets near all that hullaballoo near the highway, that part of town could explode with angry drivers and disgruntled neighbors. Moreover, this space is nearly already there: locals just need to start treating it that way.
Consensus: This is an OK idea. This would need to take place after the highway is finished being rebuilt.
Echo Park To Westlake To Downtown Corridor
Why It Could Work: Glendale Blvd at Echo Park through 2nd Street is a quick corridor to bypass the highway to get from Echo Park to Downtown. If we shut down this area, essentially from the Echoplex through the 2nd street tunnel, we could capture a rising community that ties together three neighborhoods: Echo Park, Westlake, and Downtown. There are sights to see (The Echo/Echoplex, Echo Park Lake, Vista Hermosa Park, Bob Baker Marionette Theatre, MOCA, Disney Concert Hall, etc.) and it is very much Metro and car accessible.
Why It Might Not Work: Shutting down this much road could prove problematic. It’s a great short cut for cars–but is that necessary? Perhaps if there was a way to build pedestrian over or underpasses, it could work. This isn’t necessarily rehabbing anything but, instead, is just closing down streets.
Consensus: This stretch of land is great although it doesn’t necessarily rehabilitate anything.
Why It Could Work: The highways are areas that are overtaking the city and, in order to diminish traffic, it’d be great if there was a way to make it harder to drive, much like Bloomberg is trying to do wby adding bike lanes in New York. Thus, converting parts of bridges into parks like Atlanta and New York have done we could ostensibly create congregation points and get people out of their cars.
Why It Might Not Work: No matter where you put this–the 101, the 110, etc.–no one is going to hang out here. They are too small of areas, satellite parks that no one will actually want to go to. They’d effectively be more Silver Lake Green Spaces.
Consensus: Nope. These are a silly idea.
The LA River Revitalization Project
Why It Could Work: This project by Mia Lehrer + Associates is actually in the works and would see a continuous green/art/public space built along the LA River (or lack thereof). As reader Mark Simpson pointed out on Twitter, it’d bring even more green to the city and raise real estate. This seems to be a crowd pleaser and has the potential to be a really well designed effort. It would not be that distracting from everyday life since the river is fairly contained.
Why It Might Not Work: It’s the LA River: it’s too far and too disparate. I often think about how great it is to bike along there and then remember that I have no way to get there unless I wanted to take a very long bus ride or bike ride. If a Metro point or two are added to get you to this green space, it could work. As it stands now, it could be a little difficult.
Consensus: This is a fantastic idea although the result may be too isolated from a lot of the city. If the entire river is converted? This could be really, really fruitful.
The Venice Zip Line
Why It Could Work: It’s in the sky!
Why It Might Not Work: It’s a zipline.
Consensus: Why is this even a real thing? This is a dumb idea.
The Old Silver Lake Circuit City
Why It Could Work: The old Circuit City in Silver Lake is an area that we’ve wished would be turned into a park and public space for some time. It would be such a great uniting area, especially considering how close it is to Silver Lake and Los Feliz. What if we were to shut down Sunset to Virgil to Santa Monica, making a triangle surrounded by green space? This could be great, centered at the Circuit City as the hub. Hell, you could even keep going down Sunset to connect to the green triangle! There is a lot of businesses that could benefit form this, too.
Why It Might Not Work: It’s too high traffic and would be painful to the area for commuters if shut down. Moreover, there are lots of business plans to turn the Circuit City into office spaces, knock down a few buildings to make way for apartments, and other like business ventures.
Consensus: This would be nice but it’s a pretty big stretch.
Mt. Hollywood Drive
Why It Could Work: Up in the Hollywood Hills, there is a bike path that connects from the Valley to Griffith Park along Mt. Hollywood Drive. The area is full of great views and nature and is already reclaimed by bikers and hikers, dropping everyone off to the Observatory. This area would just need a little bit of sprucing up and, perhaps, a better way to get people who can’t hike up there.
Why It Might Not Work: This doesn’t necessarily engage any communities although it does rehab a space. Moreover, what about the residents who are very private and are not happy with people coming into their territory Great views–but it’s too removed from everything.
Consensus: This area already is a green space: let this be your more rugged, zen High Line.
The Downtown Wilshire Bridge Corridor
Why It Could Work: If we were to shut down Wilshire from McArthur Park to Grand, you’d have a very Metro accesible area that wouldn’t really make traffic that disgruntled. You’d rehab the old park and make the street totally a green haven, connecting the park to Downtown, two areas that are in need of change.
Why It Might Not Work: This is simply shutting down a street, a street that is quite busy. McArthur Park and the area is beautiful and in need of help–but stretching a dying park? Is that helpful? It could completely backfire and be more of the same.
Consensus: Good in theory, probably bad in practice.
Car Free Arts District/Warehouse District
Why It Could Work: This was suggested by a few people on Twitter: shut down cars in the Arts District. This is a great idea! Let’s push past that, though: let’s shut down 4th Street to Sante Fe all the way to the 10. There are a lot of striving new businesses and gathering places–Wurstküche, upcoming Poketo store, Sci-Arc, Church and State, Greenbar, WoodSmithe across the river–which would mean this corridor shut down could rehab this area and push it even further to be up and coming. There are some seedy points around here but a green space could clear that. It’s also fairly Metro accesible and could be mirrored on the other side of the river.
Why It Might Not Work: It’s too shitty of an area, excuse the language. Just the Arts District is fine but kind of elitist: we’d need to cover more area. Also, isn’t this the LA River Revitalization Project? Let’s let them handle that, folding this area into that upcoming park.
Consensus: Someone pitch Mia Lehrer + Associates to tie the Arts District to her LA River Project…
Car Free Melrose
Why It Could Work: We know the Melrose Corridor is becoming a revitalized “thing.” Closing down the street to cars would be a fantastic idea! With the flea market on Sundays, new restaurants and tourist attractions, and a perfect mix of high end and low end, it could be fantastic to see Fairfax to Highland shut down to cars. This could be a fairly easy makeover, too.
Why It Might Not Work: Again: this isn’t rehabbing anything. Ideas of shutting streets down effectively are like what Bloomberg did in Times Square–not the High Line. Also, shutting down La Brea and Martel would be really dumb for traffic as those are big passage ways (unless there is a way to keep those as passage ways…).
Consensus: Meh. This is fine. Seems like a lazy way to rehab and not necessarily something that would incorporate nice design.
Car Free Hollywood Blvd or Sunset Blvd
Why It Could Work: Same idea as above, but perhaps along Sunset or Hollywood. These areas area already incredible pedestrian friendly and by the Metro: this could be a great idea.
Why It Might Not Work: Same gripes as above.
Consensus: Meh. Some Angelenos abhor Hollywood, too.
Car Free Fountain Ave
Why It Could Work: Same as the above two, but what if it was Fountain? Fountain from La Cienega to Gower and Wilton to Sunset: this would be a HUGE area to unite tons of neighborhoods! This could be fantastic as the street covers so much land, is small, and may not be disruptive to huge roads. Out of all the street closing ideas, this one could be the most neighborhoody and reclaiming, actually about community and not business. It also hints at the Circuit City idea and the Silver Lake Green Space, too.
Why It Might Not Work: Fountain is such a big shortcut for everyone: shutting it down may cause a literal riot.
Consensus: If any street shut down project were going to be enacted, this would be the best one.
As you can see, there are lots of ideas and lots of potential things could become the Los Angeles High Line. The only thing we are lacking is the rehabilitation factor: which place needs the most rehabbing and could work the best for us? We don’t have that answer but, of course, we point to it in a few of these ideas. What do we think is the best idea? The LA River idea and the 2nd Street/Echo Park/Westlake/Downtown idea: those could really be something great for the city.
What do you guys think? What are your ideas? Are there any other areas you think could be fantastic for Los Angeles? Do any of you guys have design ideas for making the city better by rehabbing a space? Share them in our comments or e-mail us your ideas!