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Paris’s Linear Parks: bringing nature into the heart of the city

7 June 2024

We’ve all been inspired by New York’s Highline, the former rail line converted to linear park.

But before the Highline was a park, the world’s first elevated park walkway, Promenade Plantée, opened in Paris over 30 years ago in 1993.

This park atop a long-abandoned mid-19th century viaduct is but one of several linear parks making use of no longer needed infrastructure across Paris.

While Promenade Plantée is beautiful, manicured, and ordered, I loved even more the wild and biodiverse La Petite Ceinture, a 150 year old rail line that is now a “nature trail” in part open to the public that runs through the heart of Paris

It is stunning in its wildness in such an urban environment, and about 170 plant species and 70 animal species have been observed on this trail.

I can’t help but reflect on what the opportunities might be for Perth to create similar wild places in the heart of our city. Whether it be (likely lost) opportunity to retain parts of the old Fremantle Traffic Bridge as a pedestrian link or the very alive opportunity to revegetate the former Roe 8/9 road reserve, Perth could also do this.

Linear parks where nature is allowed to flourish and people are encouraged to walk, run, and bike are good for our cities. But making them a reality requires leadership, foresight, planning, and a willingness to invest in unconventional projects and do things a bit differently.

Whether it be New York’s Highline or Paris’s Promenade Plantée, or the Copenhagen CBD green link project I wrote about earlier, they all add wonder, nature, and liveability to each cities. Perth could do with a little of this too.


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