The Richmond Greenway is one of the great success stories of
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) work in urban areas over the past decade.
In the early part of the century, the Atchison-Topeka and
Santa Fe Railroad (AT&SF) helped make the San Francisco Bay Area-community
of Richmond a thriving hub of industry. But the decline of the railroad and the
industries that supported it saw Richmond fall on hard times, and in recent
decades the city has been beset by the familiar problems of crime, low real
estate values, lack of access to services and poor community health that afflict
many urban communities across the country.
In the late 1990s, RTC saw an opportunity to bring life and movement
back to Richmond by turning the disused AT&SF corridor into a public
greenway, a much-needed resource in an area suffering a chronic lack of green
space and little provision for nonmotorized transportation. One of the key
first steps was the creation of a local stewardship group, Friends of the
Richmond Greenway. Years later, not only has the Richmond Greenway become a
critical active transportation link and a place of recreation, but, just as
importantly, it has fostered a new community of residents around caring for and
maintaining the trail and its surrounds.
That was evident last week during a Day of Service on the
Richmond Greenway in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. RTC's Laura Cohen
and Barry Bergman from the Western region office (left) bicycled out to the Richmond Greenway
and joined more than 500 volunteers who rolled up their sleeves and pitched in,
planting trees and edible plants, weeding, and decorating litter cans with
mosaics. Amateur painters helped a professional muralist complete a mural depicting
some of the community volunteers who have made significant contributions to
create and beautify the greenway.
Organized by Urban Tilth, in partnership with the City of
Richmond and local partners, this day of service has become a cherished and
well-attended annual event.
"It's so rewarding to be back on the Greenway, more
than a decade after RTC began here, and see how it has grown into such an
amazing community resource, for artists, gardeners, teachers, bicyclists, dog
walkers - everyone has a place here," Cohen says. "That's the beauty
of a rail-trail like this one: everyone has their own connection to it, and can
bring their own passion and contribution."
Click on either photo for a slideshow of more images from the event.Photos by RTC. Laura Cohen and Barry Bergman are pictured with Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt (center), a long-time champion of the Richmond Greenway.
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
Washington, DC 20037