Impact Assessment of Rails to Trails on Urban Neighborhoods in America

Monday, May 8, 2017 | 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Topic: Rails to Trails - A case study of the evolution of a major transportation system and its impacts on neighborhoods.

Aim: To study a few pilot “Rails to Trails” projects around the world and their social, economic and environmental impacts on neighborhoods.

For a very long period of time, Railways have been a very important mode of trade and transport in many cities. In many cases, they were the reason a particular city came into existence (eg. Railway town which then became a big city like Atlanta, GA) and served as a major life-line of the city. While in some cases they helped a business bloom (eg. The Meat-packing industry and the Highline, NYC) in other cases they served in building a strategic network to connect remote regions together (eg. The Vincennes railway line Paris, France now known as Promenade Plantee - connecting the fort at Vincennes to Mulhouse which is also close to the Swiss and German borders).

But after these rail lines ceased to function either due to lack of need or change in mode of transport, they were abandoned and neglected for a very long time. This went on until these places started becoming breeding grounds for drug dealers, thefts, robbery and other crimes. These rail lines stand for an important era in the history and so tearing them down wasn’t a very wise decision. This is when a few urban philosophers, practitioners, designers and architects came up with a novel idea of converting these “Rails to Trails”.

This paper will aim at an in depth study of a few examples through a series of case studies like The Highline – NYC, The Bloomingdale line – Chicago, Promenade Plantee – Paris, The Atlanta Beltline – Atlanta and understand how these projects have impacted their neighborhoods.


Vrushali Kedar Sathaye , College Station , TX (see bio)
Activity Type: Posters
NPC Topic: Urban Design