Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Little Engine That Could

Driving through downtown Birmingham can be a little depressing.
I see cars but no people.
Storefronts are empty, doors are locked and every now and then you might even catch a glimpse of tumbleweed blowing down the street.

But on 1st Avenue South there’s a 19-acre stretch of land that makes me think the glass might just be a quarter-full:

The park opened just weeks after we moved, and, at the time, I didn’t understand all the excitement.

Parks are great – I LOVE PARKS! – But it’s just a park.

Except it isn’t. Railroad Park is vital to this city’s future.

If Birmingham is to climb out of this depression, downtown must be revived. And right now the park is holding the paddles.
That’s why I voted for Railroad Park in The Daily Green’s poll of best new parks. Even over Manhattan’s gorgeous High Line.
The High Line.
via The Daily Green.
Reclaimed space, on the whole, is awesome. So big ups to both cities for their efforts in turning dirty old railroad tracks into a beautiful, family-friendly place to hang.
Fletch, making friends in Birmingham. February 2011.
But New York will be fine with or without the High Line.

Birmingham requires Railroad Park.
It requires the wide cross-section of people that visit the park. It requires the money they spend while down near the park. It requires those very people’s realization that downtown is not over...

It’s just starting over.

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