Two students in Milwaukee have grand plans for their own version of the High Line, or Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail, albeit at ground level. The 2.4-mile trail would connect racially segregated neighborhoods and turn an abandoned railroad line into an outdoor artwalk.
Keith Hayes and Rob Zdanowski crafted a profile of the geo-textile called “matireal” that they hope will comprise Milwaukee’s “Artery” — an 18-inch-by-4-foot reduction of car tires set in a polycarbonate case. Some of the materials come directly from the trail itself, including the tires’ rubber and the gravel that fills the cells in between.
Detail of the “matireal” that could make up The Artery. (Courtesy Matireal)
The trail itself would feature interactive art installations along its southeastern meander from predominantly African-American Harambee to middle-class, Caucasian Riverworks Center. Milwaukee grabbed headlines last year after 2010 census results revealed it is, by some accounts, the most segregated city in America. This obviously goes much deeper than public space can address on its own, but The Artery could help by physically bridging the steep hill and six-lane highway that serve to separate the two neighborhoods.
Milwaukee has expressed interest in the project, even suggesting that it has federal funding for the first two-thirds of a mile of the project. The Youth Council of the City of Milwaukee has also awarded The Artery $25,000 in grants. A half-funded Kickstarter campaign for $10,000 would help realize the idea, too.