Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Via Rasa of Summer

This is kind of a repeat of an earlier post, with one difference: we now have a tabula via rasa -- the Summer Avenue viaduct.

Its guardrails are missing.

missing guardrails of the Summer viaductIf you look at the extreme left and right of the picture, you can see several bolts sticking up which is where the missing rails were attached to the bridge.

They've been gone at least a month, which is when I first noticed them missing. Probably much longer even, but I can't tell you when.

No matter, no beauty. If the missing rails look like any of the other rebuilt bridges of Memphis, they looked like this.

Linden (at I240) bridge railing

That rail is so ubiquitous that I think the City bought a million of them in 1973 and the supply still hasn't run out. Like a gross of off-brand cheese crackers bought at Sam's Club 2 years ago, these are stale.

We can do better than that.

We used to do much better. Here's the railing of a creek bridge near Leahy's Motor Court on Summer. I just happened to notice it as I passed by on my way to snap the photo above.

creek bridge on Summer Avenue, Memphis
Simple but beautiful.

Normally, missing property isn't good, but the missing guardrails of Summer can be an opportunity. We can use it to break out of the security barrier/freeway overpass influence, not just on Summer but all over town.

We have so many great metalsmiths in Memphis (small wonder). Here's a good example:

fence at Maria Montessori School, Harbortown, Memphis
We could commission an official guardrail of Memphis, or series of guardrails of Memphis. We would mass-produce them and they would be used for all of our bridges and overpasses. The commission should require the re-use of the 1 million guardrails and their material.

People are falling off the Summer bridge, and cringing at the ugliness at the others. We can stop the falling and cringing at the same time.

This could be another step in restoring utility and beauty to the streets of Memphis.

drain cover in front of City Hall, Memphis

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Blogger tennreb said...

Check out the new Houston Levee bridge over the Wolf River. It has a stone-accented guard rail and decorative lamps.

4:39 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

tennreb, I will check it out. Probably google earth the location first because I'm not even sure where Houston Levee crosses the Wolf.

I hope no one ever thinks the economic differences in the 2 locations justifies the artfulness in the one case, or artlessness in the other. They both deserve the fullness.

thanks for the comment.

10:50 PM  
Blogger tennreb said...

If you take Nonconnah/Bill Morris (385) or Poplar to Houston Levee, go north for about 5 miles past Poplar and Wolf River Blvd. It is south of Walnut Grove. It is eventually supposed to be a part of the new Houston Levee that will have a landscaped median and bike trails. Mayor Wharton is instituting this plan because he knows that Germantown Road is a disaster and doesn't want Houston Levee to be a repeat. It wasn't very long ago (early 90s) that Germantown Rd. was a two lane road that looked just like Houston Levee between Wolf River Blvd and Macon. It was supposed to be an express route between Germantown and I-40.

3:20 PM  

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