Prospect Trace: Transforming an Expressway into Civic Space MERIT
How should an artery cross a city?
When it was completed in 1962, the Prospect Expressway cut a swath through Brooklyn. The Expressway is the culmination of a century of innovation in travel that began with the design of Eastern and Ocean Parkways in1874 by Olmsted and Vaux. Once embraced with optimism, urban highways are now seen as wounds inflicted upon neighborhoods. To address this predicament, municipalities are dismantling or covering their highways.
Given this extraordinary investment of materials and labor, we believe the expressway is too valuable to destroy and too fascinating to bury. Instead, we aim to refashion the highway as part of the tissue of the city. Our goal is to transform a dangerous and polluted utilitarian corridor into a civic place welcoming people, plants and vehicles.
We propose to rechristen this route as a trace. We have discovered much about the expressway’s evolution by tracing its history. As the highway evolves into civic infrastructure, it will retain marks, or traces, of its past existence. As the highway fades into daily neighborhood patterns, it is our hope that the route acquires a new identify as an energetic and venerated informal road – the Prospect Trace.