One of many industrial buildings on Hiawatha in Minneapolis.
Driving down Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis on my commute home recently, I noticed the strange beauty of the derelict industrial buildings that line that stretch of road. No matter what used to be housed in those monsters, no matter what great industrial strides forward they helped create, they lay dormant now, many crumbling. Here in the Twin Cities we don't have anything that compares to the spectacle of what should soon come to be known as The Great Ruins of Detroit, but we still have our fair share of unused and abandoned industrial buildings and spaces, as any metropolitan area does. And, as those photos of the ruins of Detroit suggest, I am not alone in finding some beauty in these places (or if not beauty, then awe).
In the June issue of Dwell there is a special section—“An Introduction to City Parks”—devoted to transforming city spaces into urban parks, not by trying to isolate a piece of nature within the city limits, but by incorporating the cityscape into the park. While much attention has been paid to the High Line park (right) in New York City—and rightly so; it’s a beautiful spot—I found myself taken by many of the other photos—this one, in particular—and longing for someone to tackle the old buildings on Hiawatha, complimenting their strange beauty with a more traditional brush. Because let’s face it, whatever aesthetic qualities old, rundown factory buildings might have, there’s always at least a touch of melancholy that comes with them, as burried within those crumbling walls are more than a few stories of something having gone wrong in this country.
For a thorough history of “[t]he movement to integrate decaying structures into parks and gardens,” check out the article “Green Giants: How urban planners are turning industrial eyesors into popular spaces” from The Walrus.
What about your city? Are there any spots that have incorporated nature particularly well? Send us pictures at Twitter or Facebook. If we get a good response we’ll follow this post up with your photos.