28 de janeiro de 2015
Keeping Medellín’s successes in context
April 11, 2014
Above where we parked, this corner of the neighborhood is too steep for vehicles to reach. Not long ago, the only way up was to climb 350 steps. The escalators make the trip easy and quick. As you ride up a series of escalators, you pass colorfully painted brick homes and a security official at every landing. There was even music playing from a hidden sound system. The soundtrack to my trip back down was “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. For real.
The escalators are one of the highest-profile improvements Medellín has made that send residents of poor areas a powerful message: This city is yours, too. But later in our press tour, while taking in the MetroCable gondola system — another of Medellín’s signature projects — I got a slightly different view of it.
From way up high over the city, I spotted the bright orange roofs of the zig-zagging escalators. They were quite far away, but clearly visible across the sweeping and densely built valley Medellín sits in. It was a sobering view. Because from this vantage point, what you notice about the escalators is how very small this one fabulous project is — and how very huge the problems of poverty and informal neighborhoods are here.
You wouldn’t know it from much of the media coverage of Medellín’s promising urban strategies. Celebratory pictures of the escalators rarely show the vastness of the surrounding areas. It’s a great project, but it’s only helped transform one small area. More than two million people in Medellín don’t have escalators in their neighborhoods.
None of this is to say that Medellín’s achievements aren’t real.
Beyond the escalators and gondolas, Medellín has built substantial numbers of libraries, schools, recreation facilities and public plazas across many parts of the city, with the most intensive efforts targeted at the very poorest parts of the city. They’ve created a culture of “social urbanism” here that relies on asking communities what they need and executing promised projects quickly. As Medellín expert Gerard Martin told me, the distinguishing feature of the city’s approach is not the public works so much as a dedication to fighting inequality.
Even at a small scale, projects like the escalators do serve a broader purpose. They fill our heads with ideas of how to think differently about everyday challenges — mobility and inclusion in a hilly city, in this case. Somewhere in the world, a city is surely plotting a hillside elevator project, citing Medellín as its inspiration.
Ler artigo completo:
Medellín made urban escalators famous, but have they had any impact?
By Letty Reimerink
July 24, 2014
Before the escalators went in, the only way up in this part of Comuna 13 was to climb 357 steps.