A preservationist never tires of looking up! This view includes one of the many skyways in St. Paul, MN. Skyways link the buildings across city streets to protect people from the harsh winters. However, they also remove people from the street, changing the city and the way people interact.
5 thoughts on “Preservation Photos #187”
Its not just cold weather places that have these. We have a number of them in downtown Atlanta built by architect John Portman in the 1960s. Here in Atlanta it was an attempt to bring people back downtown in the 70s and 80s after white flight to the suburbs in response to integration, highway intersection, and rising crime rates. It was meant to make people feel safer. The result was a disconnect between people and the street. Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta is trying to change this. In the last ten years have been buying up buildings downtown and building new ones for classrooms and dorms. It has helped a lot–at all hours of the day there are now students walking around downtown, at street level. Previous to that downtown was a cavernous wasteland. Even Georgia State itself had hired Portman in the 1960s to build the elevated campus quad which is totally cut off and isolated from the street.
More on Portman and the development of Atlanta here (shot in the elevated quad of Georgia State University):
Chad, what an interesting bit of information. I had no idea; thanks for sharing.
The city of Toronto has one of the largest underground networks in North America…17 miles, running in a spaghetti like fashion throughout downtown. A great reference on this general topic is Jane Jacobs’ book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, where she talks quite a bit about livable cities, and what really makes a great city. On the topic of removing people from the street, it is noted that:
“In Jacobs’ analysis, the city with the thriving public sidewalk is the ideal. The in-between world of the ‘not city, not suburb’, full of strangers who choose not meet each other on the street, is the nightmare.”
Fascinating. Despite weather, I’d have to agree that removing people from the street just seems odd. People need buildings and fresh air!