Monday, June 16, 2008

Pedestrian Pathways

Just like the first residents of this landscape, we modern folks follow certain routes, in cars, of course, but also on foot. Rhode Island Avenue was one of the first Indian paths through this region. I think Rockville Pike is another ancient path. Both are now paved over and in constant use.

The Masons who designed DC incorporated the Indian paths into the pattern, which is very cool. Wise, too, not to mention elegant.

Unfortunately the District officials who decide where grass should grow right here and now in 2008 are not so happy about these modest, organic pathways. Outside of Union Station, they've even posted a sign asking people to use the sidewalk so as to 'save' the grass.

The grass grows lush and green on either side of these paths. So what's the problem here? I think the human made paths are charming and real. Those who are in charge of our green squares do not agree. Nevertheless, we citizens of DC continue to blaze our trails, no matter what. Sweet.


Barbara said...

As I was hiking around and getting lost on the mountain in Italy last week, I wondered a lot about those who made the worn steps we were using -- how they decided which way to go and then why our path had fallen into disuse. I like the paths people make even though they aren't always the most direct route.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

people like telling others what to do and where to go.....but people then people also enjoy going where they want to go and taking the fastest route. if it's not going to do harm to someone else (like driving the wrong way on a one way street) then who really cares!

I agree with you about the charming nature of these spontaneous paths... they lend a certain sense of character to a place, especially when as you observed the grass does grow lush and green on the sides of them.

ironic that the first picture shows a person who is not even sticking to the organic path - but walking along side of it - could she want to widen it or prefers the soft grass beneath her feet rather than the packed dirt?

to those who blaze new paths - both literally and figuratively!

dennis said...

Dennis says this path-thing has a name, and
it is the 'line of DESIRE' when spaces are planned, walkways are often not used, and the line of desire is blocked with shrubs or walls! They see this in parks, on college campuses, in senior communities... some planners work with the line of desire and pave it insisting that this is the route that should be honored.

Dennis understands paths.

lacochran said...

Wouldn't everybody rather walk on natural paths than paved paths? I would.

d. chedwick said...

I like paved paths when it's very muddy and swampy though. but for running, a natural path is better for your knees.

Reya Mellicker said...

mouse, the woman who is not quite on the path was walking behind me, swung around the left side of me and headed back to the path, but I snapped the pic before she took that final step to the right.

Ched I agree. When it's raining, the organic paths lose their charm immediately. I like the way they curve around the trees, make gentle bends (because of the terrain? who knows why!)

Moonroot said...

I love these organic paths, love to speculate how/why people started/continue to use them instead of the 'official' paths.
When I redesigned a communal area as part of my Permaculture Design Course, I got praised for noticing where people *actually* walked and putting the paths there in my design, instead of placing them in more conventional layouts.

Steve said...

I agree -- I think they're beautiful. They remind me of deer and rabbit paths through rural meadows. It's funny how creatures follow so closely the trails that have been blazed before.

Gary said...

I am actually one of those who tend to create my own path in these situations. I almost never stick to the worn pathways. I never really thought about it much before but now I wonder if that says something about me.