Morning Headlines: Saffron: Philly’s Boardwalk Beats NYC’s High Line
Phila.’s new gem: A stroll on the Schuylkill [Inquirer]
Inga Saffron is downright ebullient today. Her feelings about the newly completed and opened Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk are unmistakable:
As wonderful as the High Line is, it merely allows people to wend their way through Manhattan a few stories above its bustling streets. When the latest segment of the Schuylkill Banks trail opens to the public Thursday, you’ll be able to walk on water, under the glittering gaze of the Center City skyline.
Take that, New York.
Saffron is convinced that the Boardwalk trumps the High Line mostly for its transformative powers. She alternately says the distanced perspective can make Center City feel like “outer space” at night and that at other times, “strange optical illusions appear.” Why, she asks, does it look like there’s a Penn building on Spruce Street when we all know it’s on Walnut?
She may be full of praise, but she’s not entirely blinded to the Boardwalk’s minor shortcomings. It seems no one is looking forward to the looming pedestrian vs. cyclist showdown on the Boardwalk.
Although the boardwalk is wider than the existing trail – 15 feet instead of 11 – the conflicts will be intense. Unlike the original path, there is no grassy shoulder for refuge. A creative design could have made provisions to address the impending crush, perhaps through level changes or strategically placed traffic-calming barriers.
And just because she’s comparing Boardwalk to the High Line doesn’t mean Saffron has forgotten about our own elevated park.
That ability to provide a fresh perspective on the city is what made people fall in love with the High Line, and it’s the reason that elevated parks have captured the imaginations of people around the world. Philadelphia hopes to start work on its own high line soon, at the Reading Viaduct.
Once the Viaduct park is built, we are really looking forward to Saffron’s trash talk.
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