Looking for a bit of greenery while visiting a big city? Here are some favorite urban green spaces — in New York, Portland and L.A. — from the editors and members of virtualtourist.com
1. The High Line — New York City
A popular trend in adaptive urban reuse is converting former structures into new projects and green spaces, and perhaps no example of this trend has been more positively embraced by its location as New York City’s High Line.
A former freight line that ran along the west side, the High Line removed dangerous freight trains from Manhattan streets and rolled them directly into factories and warehouses in the present-day Meatpacking District and Chelsea neighborhoods of 1930s New York. After more than 25 years of disuse, the High Line was transformed into a public space currently spanning 19 city blocks. The third section of the High Line is presently under construction and is expected to open to the public in the fall of 2014.
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In addition to being a walking space and public park, selected food vendors have opened up along the High Line between Little West 12th and West 18th streets, including Terroir, a popular New York City wine bar, and Blue Bottle Coffee. Another great aspect of the project is the variety of greenery and architectural landscaping — rail tracks have been reinstalled with plantings along the Sundeck and portions through Chelsea move from grasslands to thicket to a wildflower field. Info: thehighline.org
2. Forest Park — Portland, Oregon
Few cities in America are known for their greenery and commitment to sustainability like Portland. Among their collection of public parks, Forest Park is the largest, forested natural area within city limits in the United States encompassing over 5,100 wooded acres.
Running along the western side of the Willamette River and adjacent to Route 30, the park offers guided hikes, mountain biking, equestrian trails, and a vista point. A highlight of the park is the 30-mile Wildwood Trail, which is a large section of the region’s 40-Mile Loop system that links Forest Park to pedestrian and trail routes throughout Portland, running past landmark Pittock Mansion.
If you are a garden fan, make sure to also check out Portland’s Washington Park, home to the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden. portlandoregon.gov/parks
3. Deukmejian Wilderness Park — Glendale, Calif.
While Los Angeles’ Griffith Park is frequently in the spotlight, Deukmejian Wilderness Park in nearby Glendale is only a few more minutes up the highway and much more rustic. A rugged 709-acre site in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, the park is relatively undisturbed except for a 12-acre developed “Park Center” on the southern part of the property.
Deukmejian is also unique in that it has become known as a symbol of natural rebirth and communal conservation within Southern California. After nearly 700 acres of the park burned in 2009’s Station Fire, hundreds of community volunteers worked to replant and rebuild the park, from repairing the park’s hiking trails to even removing invasive species after the fire.
With elevations ranging from 2,159 feet (658 m) at the park’s entry to 4,775 feet (1455 m) at the northeast corner of the site, it’s an exceptional spot for hiking and views of Los Angeles. parks.ci.glendale.ca.us/