These are a couple images that I came across during my research on the Park East Corridor that were useful in helping me understand the scale of the original freeway project. While such drastic change is seen as necessary for development projects the world over, the scale can be baffling. Because I moved Milwaukee after the freeway spur was dismantled, my understanding had to come through research and the production of this piece.
While the scale of this is small in comparison, I often think of projects like Boston's 'Big Dig' and the restoration of the area of Berlin where eastern and western halves of the city were once divided - 'No Man's Land'.
During the demolition process of the Big Dig, many, many artifacts were discovered from several eras of Boston's history - jumbled historical non-sequiturs, having no relationship other than proximity, to the reconstruction of a 20th century freeway. The Dig became a strange window into the past, yielding a view that was non-linear, constructed and contextualized by the destruction and re-construction of a physical transport system. Simultaneously, it became a psychological transport for forgotten and fragmented histories - a point of reflection, discovered as history yawned open in the gash of construction.
In the case of Berlin, I most often think of the construction of the Sony Center at Potsdammer Platz, a site I witnessed in person both prior to the construction in 1997 and after completion in 2001. Located at the site on which Sony wished to build, was an artifact - the remaining sections of the Hotel Esplanade. Debates ensued as to the fate of this historical site, at one point threatening the entire project. Because the site and the building were important to Berliners, Sony opted to concede its insistence on demolition in exchange for retaining the 'historically significant' areas of the building. What resulted is a strange object; fragments of an early 2oth century Belle Èpoque-style staircase and fireplace (parts of walls intact), entombed by the massive and grandiose 21st century Sony Center. This strange little anachronism, sequestered in the hermetically-sealed, tempurature and humidity controlled environment of a future it never could have imagined.
So, when I look at the Park East Corridor, I wonder similar things - what will be discovered about this space in centuries to come? What mark have we left? What histories will we celebrate and which will we regret?