Ever since NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised $85 million for the public real estate rescue of the century – transforming 1.4-miles of abandoned, elevated railroad tracks into a popular green park lovingly called the High Line – mayors everywhere are seeking their own derelict depots, and jumping on board. Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia has green-lighted plans to spruce up the city’s ¼ mile long Reading Viaduct Park, while Rahm Emanuel in Chicago recently raised $9 million in four days to set in motion the conversion of the three-mile Bloomingdale Trail, another high liner, into an urban oasis. (It’ll take another $35 million or so to finish the job.)
After 150 years of industrial revolution and massive infrastructure projects–and eventual urban decay–urban renewal and reclamation are now in vogue. The world is full of former jewels in desuetude, awaiting transformation. Baroque old train stations become shopping malls, tenements are morphed into museums. Who knew that discontinued missile silos make good apartment buildings? In Rotterdam (the largest port in Europe), they plan to reclaim and transform its 1.2-mile long Hofpleinlijin, the first electric rail line in the Netherlands (1908). It’s destined to be a hotspot: 70% of the city’s population (617,347) is single and between the age of 20-40.