Rail to Trail: 12 U.S. Park Projects Reclaiming Urban Infrastructure

Presidio Tunnel Tops, San Francisco, California by James Corner Field Operations

The highways leading to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco were lowered to ground level and covered with tunnels to make them more earthquake-resistant, and the tops of the tunnels now offer 14 acres of potential green space. The National park Service, Presidio Trust and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy are working to turn that space into parklands, connected to existing parks in the area. The ‘Presidio Tunnel Tops’ will include paths and gardens, scenic overlooks, a community plaza with food, a campfire circle, picnic grounds and a youth education center.

Crissy Field, San Francisco, California by Hargreaves Associates

Crissy Field, a mile-long national park site on the cit’s northern shoreline, offers inspiration for the ambitious Presidio Tunnel Tops. This project took a former Army airfield – part of the Presidio, a United States Army post – and transformed the toxic land covered in abandoned buildings into a beautiful park packed with 20 acres of tidal marsh, 28 acres of grass and 16 acres of dune habitat. The park opened in 2001 and now hosts 1.2 million visitors each year.

River LA, Los Angeles, California by Gehry Partners, OLIN and Geosyntec

The concrete LA River has long seemed like a missed opportunity, spending most of its life dry (and ugly) in order to offer protection from rare but potentially devastating floods. But the space could definitely be used better, and a group called ‘River LA’ is working with architect Gehry Partners and others to come up with a plan. They’re still in early phases of planning, and no designs have been shared yet, but the transformation of this space into a usable urban park would be a huge boon for the city. A connected project, a bike path called Greenway 2020, will connect various green spaces along all 51 miles of the LA River (pictured.) 30 of the 51 miles are connected, but public support and funding is needed to complete it.