Railway Parks?



I am looking for precedents of park spaces directly adjacent to operational railways (EG. The West Toronto Rail Path), or some kind of guidelines about park spaces in such proximity to railways. 

Might anyone have some interesting leads here?


Nov 17, 14 2:29 pm

Could look at the High Line in Manhattan, not an active railway but an old railway…tons of great pictures online.

Nov 17, 14 3:58 pm  · 

Might google map Berlin? Moabit is relatively close to the hauptbahnhof, and some of the wall parks are near s-bahn and smaller stations.  I also recall the circle line there going past a few.

Nov 17, 14 4:09 pm  · 

Seattle Olympic Sculpture Park - nice recent project, well published. Some problems with the sculptures corroding due to location along the sea though!

Chicago - Millennium Park - Quite well known, lots of published info on SOM's masterplan and Gehry's bandshell. Also a good flower garden. Built above operational commuter train tracks and a train station.

Chicago - Ping Tom Memorial Park - Cute community park I used to visit when I was in the area. Exciting sense of danger since it was an at-grade crossing at the operational freight rail tracks! Also meant it was possible to get trapped in the park waiting for trains to clear.

Nov 18, 14 3:58 am  · 

I would hesitate to call the west rail path in Toronto a 'park'. It is really just basically an asphalt path. I have a difficult time understanding why it took so long to coordinate something little better than a beaten path that already pretty much existed there. 

For other rail/park examples in Toronto, there is the Northern Linear Park between Bathurst & Blue Jays Way - which will be extended when Creek Park gets built and maybe continue into Fort York and possibly further. 

There is also the Lower Don River Trail which twins the CN tracks from north of Gerrard to the Corktown Commons. Further north is the Crothers Woods Trail. Some of these actually pass over / under unused rail tracks and bridges:

As for 'guidelines' I'll hazard a guess that there aren't any, and it's on a case-by-case basis for each park to navigate their trails & access.

Do you know about the elevated skypark that's going in next to Union station? This is being built because it's a requirement from constructing the towers that they need to have a 'rail overbuild' to cove the tracks in case of falling construction debris. Since there will ultimately be two towers (on either side of the tracks), 2 'rail overbuilds' are required. The developers/architects decided to join up the overbuilds in the middle and create a public park.

There is also this proposal:


Re. Berlin: Park am Gleisdreieck literally means 'park on the track triangle' and is being completed on former, and directly beside current, rail tracks. (by LOIDL).

Also in Berlin is the natur park Schöneberger Südgelände, next to the templehof tracks, which was finished well in advance of the high-line (also, it's cooler in my opinion... very few people and more chances to see how nature overtakes things without so much 'assistance' from designers)

Park am Nordbahnhof (north train station park) also comes to mind, near to Bernauer Str.

Actually nearly every park in Berlin is next to an active rail path, because rail is a very common way to get around...


In Chicago there's a cool one in progress called the 606

Here's another plan for something in Philadelphia

Nov 18, 14 10:46 am  · 

I also immediately thought of the Gleisdreieck Park in Berlin (which really is a fantastic park- so incredibly different and yet complementary when one compares it to the other major parks of Berlin; Tiergarten, Hasenheide, Treptow, Görli, etc).  The rails there are all very much still in use as well; two u-bahn lines rattle-by overhead, the high speed ICE trains run parallel to trails and a narrow beer-garden, before tucking underground en-route to Potsdamer Platz and beyond, while historic trains from the adjacent German technical museum sometimes make their lazy rounds of the park on summery Sunday afternoons. A lot of people still haven't "discovered" this park (read: tourists and the hipster crowds who don't venture west of Neukölln /  Kreuzberg 36), despite being easily the biggest public space development / investment in Berlin the last years.

Another few examples in Berlin are: the Velodrome (was to be the Olympic venues for aquatics and cycling, had Germany been awarded the 2000 games) , which is sadly rather grim as a public park, the infamous Tempelhofer Field (also adjacent to the SBahn ring), and the rather new ZKU in Moabit, which is a former freight-yard near the city's North Harbour. The fantastic (and fantastically ugly) Görlitzer Park is of course also a former train station and depot, although there's no longer any active rails nearby.

Nov 18, 14 1:25 pm  · 

Union rail museum in Union Illinois,

Also lots of parks and forest preserves are along rail lines. There are people who are genuinely interested in watching rail activities rail watchers.

perhaps figuring out if this is something to plan for in such a park.

Nov 19, 14 12:14 pm  · 


I am always so impressed with this community. Thanks everyone for your suggestions- these are gold.

Nov 19, 14 7:12 pm  · 

^ Agree with Peter - if noise and pollution won't be problems, lots of people enjoy watching train traffic.

And if it's a passenger rail the passengers deserve some consideration too - try not to put them in a dark tunnel. I go out of my way to take elevated rail lines over subways for just this reason.

Nov 19, 14 9:22 pm  · 

The links below are for a park adjacent to a railroad in Birmingham AL. I interned at a firm in town that did some schematic design work for a bar / restaurant in the park that remains unbuilt. Pretty nice park - really improved the neighborhood and gave Birmingham a great outdoor space that it was lacking.

The railway is elevated and the railroad maintained a fairly large easement between the park and rail line, so there isn't much rail watching like in other parks above. A surprising focus on water in the landscape photos, but it appears to work well.

Nov 24, 14 9:58 am  · 

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