In terms of multi-level cities, Minneapolis has always been known as the city with miles of skyways. However, over the past decade Minneapolis has gained recognition for another level being conquered: the level below the street grid.
The Minneapolis Midtown Greenway is a prime example of an urban planning movement to create pathways devoted strictly to pedestrian transportation. Stretching 5.5 miles, the Midtown Greenway offers uninterrupted pedestrian travel between West River Parkway (near the University of Minnesota), and Lake Street (near the Minneapolis Uptown area). Falling under a multitude of congested North-South streets such as Nicollet, Lyndale, and Hennepin, the East-West Greenway is often the fastest route for pedestrians for cross-town travel. Even in the heart of Minnesota’s cruel winters, the Midtown Greenway remains open 24/7, as it is regularly plowed.
Since the first phase opened in 2000, the Greenway has not only benefited the citizens who seek efficient and scenic transportation, but also the retail and real estate market surrounding the Greenway. The Greenway is now surrounded with businesses such as the Midtown Bike Center and the Midtown Sheraton Hotel, a number of community gardens, and as of recent an outgrowth of luxury apartments. In addition, the Midtown Greenway Coalition hopes to push the envelope further with the construction of a Greenway Streetcar. In order to accomplish this, a Streetcar Feasibility Study began in 2006 which evaluated transportation alternatives for the corridor. As of June 2013, three transportation options have been determined:
- A streetcar stretching between the Hiawatha and Southwest Rail line;
- An enhanced bus service route along Lake Street; and
- A combination of the streetcar and an enhanced bus service route.
The coalition avidly promotes the streetcar, stating the streetcar would “ improve the existing Greenway for all users, bring more people to the Greenway, provide speedy transit across town, and contribute to a more robust regional transportation system.”
Below the bustling Minneapolis metropolitan, the Midtown Greenway has created a community within itself, offering future opportunities to strengthen the multi-level transportation and architecture within the city.
How will this shift in transportation alter the form of our cities? What new opportunities will come of bringing pedestrian transportation to levels they have never explored?
Credits: Images by Abbey Seitz. Maps by Google Maps. Data linked to sources.