Promenade Plantée, Paris

Promenade Plantée, Paris

One of the most famous examples of railroad reuse as a green space is the High Line (or High Line Park) in New York, which has been recognised as an icon of innovative design since its opening in 2009, and serves as a model for the reuse of abandoned infrastructure in other cities around the world. However, not everyone knows that the design of the High Line itself was based on another development, the Coulée verte René-Dumont (also known as the Promenade Plantée) in Paris, which opened in the early 1990s.

A dense inter-city railway network was built around Paris as early as the mid-19th century, part of which became redundant when they were replaced in the 1960s by largely underground suburban RER lines. The first phase of green renewal of abandoned railway lines began as early as the 1980s on a 1.5 km stretch, the Promenade Plantée itself. The top of the viaduct, which consists of about 64 pillars, has been restored as a green corridor, and the large space beneath was encased in massive panels of glass and turned into art galleries, artisanal workshops and design boutiques.

The success of the Coulée Verte has also encouraged the refurbishment of several other disused railway lines, mainly on the Petite Ceinture ("Little Belt") stretches of about 32 km on the outskirts of the city. While the totality of the former network has not been revamped, there are a number of stretches which can be walked, or visited in some capacity: in the abandoned station buildings bars or cultural centers have been set up.