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Hallo. It’s me. Your friendly neighborhood grouch.
It’s springtime, which means the sun is shining, birds are in the air, flowers are blooming … blech. You know what I want? Pollution! Chemicals! I want to go where the grass is orange and the water green!
Maybe I’ll just trip on down to my favorite industrial site. Seattle’s got a nice one full of rusty old towers and old coal grime and beautiful chemical processing machines and … what is this?
Where did the coal gas plant go? All the equipment’s here, but it looks … clean and beautiful?!
Seattle’s Gas Works Park used to make coal gas, but since the 1960s, it’s been a delightful public park. The old plant towers like a post-apocalyptic cityscape over grassy hills and the water of Lake Union.
Gas Works is what you could call a “reclaimed park,” and a lot of places around the world have jumped on the trend of grabbing old industry or waste sites and turning them into beautiful public spaces.
And I, as a trash-and-grime-loving grouch, could not be more disappointed! I mean, check out these other seven sites people have ruined with their whole “Oh, no, we don’t like trash. We like laughing and flowers and babies and laughing-flower-babies” schtick.
Freshkills Park on Staten Island used to be the largest landfill in the country.
Now it’s a park filled with osprey nests and kayakers. Kayakers! See what I mean?
Then there’s Glass Beach near Fort Bragg, California. Pretty again!
The beaches used to be perfect grouch-worthy dumping grounds, but over time, people hauled out metal and other rubbish, leaving just glass behind, which the ocean’s pounded into beautiful little pebbles. Now it gets tourists!
Although, really, even I, a grouch, must admit that this German park has a kind of eerie, serene beauty to it.
Landschaftspark in Duisburg-Meiderich, Germany, used to be an ironworks plant, but was abandoned in the 1980s. Since then, it’s been reclaimed and turned into a park and cultural center. There are even high ropes courses and viewing towers!
The High Line in Manhattan used to be a freight line. Now it’s basically like a super-cool elevated walkway and a garden had a baby.
Again with the babies!
Even old prisons are getting in on the bit. I mean, check out Alcatraz!
The gardens used to be one of the few bright spots on Alcatraz, back when it was an infamous prison. The gardens were abandoned when the prison closed down in the 1960s. Years later, with some human help, the plants exploded into this riot of color. There are even places where the plants have taken over!
Although, as much as I hate to admit it, I do really dig that whole overgrown ruins vibe…
The Huangpu River waterfront in Shanghai, China, used to be a steel factory and shipyard, but look at it now.
Now it’s known as Houtan Park. Regenerative wetlands are helping to restore the environment, while long, winding paths give visitors a beautiful experience right in the heart of one of the world’s biggest cities.
Finally, check out Cheonggyecheon stream in Seoul, South Korea.
The stream used to be a gigantic, trash-filled eyesore and was actually covered over in concrete in the 1950s, but today, it’s been restored into this grand public space.
And while trash is lovely, splashing around in that water does look like fun…
Fine, fine! You win! Even this grouch must admit reclaiming old industrial sites is pretty legit.
The mix between old tech and lovely green space, the concept of taking the old and revitalizing it, history and fun twisted together … it’s pretty magical. Plus, having parks nearby can make people happier and healthier!
You got me, springtime. I guess I have no choice but to go enjoy the new life humans have breathed into these old sites. Good job, guys.