I-5 Colonade

In the 1960’s the Interstate highway system in the United States made it’s way through Seattle, Washington. I-5 became the main quick route for  north south travel through the coastal states. But for Seattle the I-5 cut in pretty close to downtown and in the process created some “orphan spaces” under it’s roadway. Last month WTY took a look at Freeway Park in Seattle which is actually located above I-5. So let’s now go down below.

Here is a good overview in an essay called Anthroturbation
by Charles Mudede.

Or some general information here.

Here is some thoughts from the author of Brand Avenue.
“But what really happens when we start claiming these kinds of spaces, when spaces of graffiti and naive 1980s drug prevention campaign advertising become “nice”? What is added and what is taken away? I had a professor in college from South Africa who argued repeatedly that obscure, out-of-the-way spots are absolutely key in any urban ensemble. His reasoning was that dark corners and back-alleys are as much the site of urban life as brightly-lit streets, public plazas, shops, and other components of the public realm. Rather than drive illicit activity deeper underground, conscious inclusion of such spaces ensures a manner of control. These spaces are where drugs are dealt, yes; but also where homeless people might live, where graffiti is made. They are indeterminate and therefore exceptional.

What do we do with the ugly, the difficult, the leftover? Do voids in the city play a critical role? What if we no longer had such spaces? What are we protecting? Improving? When do we have too much of this? Not enough?”

There are a lot of these “voids” in every city. They are
fascinating in how they are “negotiable spaces” compared to private property as such. They may be a shortcut to the Metro by day and a hangout for addicts at night, but they still maintain an aura of possibilities, a multiple “text” given to a plethora of readings and interpretations.

If you follow the Ville Marie Expressway branch from the Turcot Interchange, which takes you downtown, you will find a long narrow series of these “orphaned spaces”  that run through Saint Henri and Little Burgundy. Here is a picture I took about 10 years ago during a maintenance phase.

Railroad tracks used to run through here alongside that
retaining wall, but they also went back up the hill to meet with
the tracks that once led to Windsor Station. Now this site remains an “open” story waiting for something to “identify” it once again.

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