It’s an old-ish story from 2007 and 2008, but it’s still relevant today as there are apparently rumors that Portland wants to do something similar on a much larger scale.
In April 2007, Dutch artist Henk Hofstra painted an entire street blue to symbolize the path of a waterway that used to be there. The installation in its entirety stretched 1,000 meters (or, yes, 1 kilometer, gasp!) long and 8 meters wide. Hofstra’s work also had a bit of a snarkiness to it: in one section, a car is painted blue and is half-submerged into the road, as if the phantom urban waterway swallowed it up:
(More pretty, pretty photos via Henk Hofstra)
Next stop: What Does It All Mean? Boulevard
I like the concept. It brings a large degree of awareness to the issue of just how much land and how many resources cities consume just to exist. Imagine implementing something similar in New York City and painting blue everywhere that used to be water.
However, what are the implications of the project? It’s not as if we can turn the streets back to waterway in the modern day. The purpose of the art installation doesn’t really seem to be to invoke a desire to live in the old days as much as it presents a warning for our and future generations to be wary of what we’re consuming. Initiating a similar “blue streets” program in the U.S. may turn a few more heads, though I doubt that it would change much given the current state of those in favor of more sustainable practices and those who don’t believe that global climate change is something to really worry about. And they’re getting a bit of traction on that end, too. Unfortunately, the art installation, while pretty to look at, may not be able to inspire any degree of action on the part of the government to at least try to comply with some part of the tentative and nonbinding agreements made at Copenhagen this past December.
The future isn’t looking particularly bright at the moment, though it does feel a little on the warm side.