Indiana Central Canal

In class the other night we talked about utilizing the unique assests of shrinking American cities, and our professor referenced Indianapolis (though not technically a shrinking city, it fulfills many aspects of one). The city utilized the remnants of a canal to create new parkspace and completely reinvent the surrounding neighborhoods.

This is a great example of employing something in a state of dereliction (apparently it had been little more than a ditch) as an inspiring public space.

Equally fascinating to me, however, was that the canal going through Indianapolis was just a tiny portion of what was to become the Indiana Central Canal.

The canal was conceived during the early part of the nineteenth century, when "Canal Mania" was in full swing and railroads were decades away from dominating American transportation. When complete, it would have allowed goods to travel from Lake Michigan to the Ohio and Wabash rivers, connecting five states into a single network of canals.

Unsurprisingly, the canal project was never completed as the state went into bankruptcy in 1839. The project was projected to cost about $200 million in 2010 dollars.

What remains most fascinating to me is that remants of this project continued functioning well into the twentieth century, and that traces of the intial surveying and completed sections exist all over the state. They're often hidden in plain sight, like these earthworks below, in an exurb of Indianapolis.

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To read more about the Central Canal, check out this great article by the Canal Society of Indiana.


It's not an economy if you're just doing each other's laundry.

- my professor, summing up why cities need an "export economy" in order to be viable. 


deer composting

I was looking through the New York State Department of Transportation's environmental design guidelines when I came across the Hudson Valley region's special pilot guidelines on deer composting. With a growing deer population and increasing congestion, disposal of roadkill has become a pressing logistical problem (local rendering plants are apparently also shutting down). The solution is to simply dump the deer carcasses into a compost bin and use the compost a few months later on DOT right of ways. It's a fascinating document, and I'm now keyed in to a growing national trend



Currently reading environmental impact statement documents for the Oak Point Link, and mummichogs repeatedly came up. One of the hardiest fish species in the northeastern United States, mummichogs may be the only fish species present in heavily polluted waters. 

The reports I'm reading hold out little hope for the Harlem River (it's amazing how much differently we perceive our urban waterways today) and point to the abundance of mummichog in its waters as a symptom of its highly degraded nature.


Pratt in the Mott Haven Herald

A severe case of jet lag (I was more or less asleep by 3pm) prevented me from attending, but we got the opportunity to present our project to the Harlem River community this Monday, June 11th.

From what I heard it was a great success, and we got a writeup in the Mott Haven Herald.

For posterity's sake, I posted the video I created and was planning on narrating below. It gives a rough overview of the current state of the Harlem River, as well as some of the numerous proposals developed over the years for the site. There should be a more polished publication coming out sometime this summer. Stay tuned.