Even before the High Line opened in 2009, it inspired copycats. Groups in Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities dreamed of their own versions of Manhattan’s elevated garden walkway – and now Mexico City has its own project off and running.
The capital plans to build a broad, blooming path across two major urban arteries.
“The High Line in New York seemed to me a fresh breath of air, completely,” says Daniel Escotto Sánchez, the general coordinator for the city’s Public Space Authority, reflecting on his visit there. “Mexico City just needs – within so many streets, so many avenues – respite like this.”
The bridge will link a metro station to Chapultepec Forest, the city’s most prominent and expansive park, complete with a castle, numerous museums and several lakes. The path leads into a section with picnic areas, known for kids’ parties and family get-togethers.
Aesthetically, the visions bear obvious resemblance. A recent Mexico City rendering shows people strolling along a gray path adorned with tall green and yellow grasses that protrude out, almost wildly, from the sides.
Escotto Sánchez says New York's High Line got his wheels turning when he first strolled through it the year it opened. (He’d actually heard of it beforehand, through a friend who works for James Corner Field Operations, the project’s lead design studio.)
There are obvious differences between his vision and its predecessor, Escotto Sánchez says – first and foremost that he’s not redeveloping an existing structure. The High Line was a train track, and plans in other cities call for re-imagining former freight lines.
Escotto Sánchez sees his bridge as an “arm of the forest,” which he hopes to landscape with plants already found in Chapultepec. RiForest to the ght now, Metro users must traverse a combination of steep steps, busy roads and generally not-family-friendly passageways to enter the park.
“They confront many obstacles,” says Escotto Sánchez. “[They come] with tricycles, with water for picnics, with food, with grandma, with children – with everything.”
The bridge will eventually pass under a new, elevated highway, yet to be completed at this point. OHL México, a transportation construction company building that road, will finance the garden walkway as part of its contract for that project, according to Escotto Sánchez. He says the project will cost roughly $4.3 million. He estimates it will take four months to build and hopes to begin construction around this coming December or January.
Beyond building from scratch, Escotto Sánchez’s plan stands out in another way: his public office is the driving force behind the project, whereas citizens' groups have spurred efforts in places like New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia.
By creating a walkway above and below roads, Escotto Sánchez says he’s reminding the city that pedestrians also deserve respect and resources.
“What we don’t want is that they have to go up stairs,” he says. “What we want is a message that says the walker has the same dignity as the vehicle.”
Ruth Samuelson is a freelance writer living in Mexico City. She can be reached at email@example.com.