An Elevated Park in Richmond? Why Not?

Jul 9, 2014

Richmond, VA

Five years ago, New York surprised the world with a new park, known as the High Line.  It was built on an elevated railroad bed that once carried freight, but with lush landscaping, benches, bridges and stairs, it’s become a popular hangout for urban residents in search of nature.  Now, the city of Richmond is planning a similar venture. 

Richmond’s riverfront is, perhaps, its nicest feature – green parkland along the wide, shallow, rocky James River, but the south shore feels far from the lively riverfront, and a citizens group called Bridge Park aims to fix that.  Creative Director Sean Riley says it’d be great to build a park atop stone supports still standing in the river.

"These were the foundations of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Bridge, which burned down I believe it was in 1865, and the pillars are still standing, solid as ever.  We’ve had some studies done."

As they raise money for the project, he and Bridge Park President Ted Elmore have been thinking about the look of this linear park and how it might compare to its New York cousin.

"In terms of design, I expect it to be more spare than the High Line, and one of the most specific directives to our current architects and any future architects will be to look at the beauty around you and put the spotlight on that, not on the bridge itself necessarily.  We love the wild nature of the shore, and we want to maintain that."

Elmore hopes Bridge Park will be a destination for the entire region and invites ideas from the public.

"It’s important to get input, and we’d love to hear from listeners throughout the Commonwealth and not just in Richmond, so please reach out to us."

He also welcomes contributions to the cause.  He figures the aerial park over the James will cost $25-$30 million, and if you’re looking for an impressive gift for someone you love, naming rights are for sale.