The Ludlam Trail

The Ludlam Trail

An old abandoned rail corridor in the heart of Miami-Dade County is about to be transformed into a unique vision of recreational space.

The Ludlam Trail linear park is a phenomenon in many ways. From the community daring the attempt to wrest an important piece of land from a large corporation to the myriad of recreational and connectivity possibilities that its design will provide, the trail is truly a work of art.

Community development is an art. Citizens who desire change are driven by a sense of purpose to see their human rights represented within an unseen universal order that demands access to the beauty of life in the here and now. Translating that drive into a tangible vision involving many people and months of communication is not easy, and the Ludlam Trail board members could teach us all a lesson in community activism. According to Board Chairman Tony Garcia, the Florida East Coast Corporation went through a massive cerebral overhaul to accept the vision. The process proves that corporate and governmental appreciation of citizen action, when based on common good and creating legacies for posterity, is something worth fighting for.

The design of the trail itself is developing but promises to be a beautiful work of civic art, a term seldom used in conventional urban development.

“Civic art is one of the highest art forms - it's what makes great cities unique and special.  Civic art is the sum total of the architecture, public spaces, monuments, urban design, and landscape of a city, but it is far more than the sum of the parts.  Civic art is place-making into art that creates timeless civic values and helps define cultures.” – Center for Design Excellence.

The trail begins at Dadeland Mall in the south and ends six miles later at the edge of the Miami International Airport in the North, plans including cycling and walking paths, shelters and benches, and the restoration of the native habitat, will give all who use the trail a glimpse into the historic landscape of pre-suburban Dade County. In an era when municipalities and developers would rather build on available space within the city than donate, much less sophisticate parcels of land for citizens, the Ludlam Trail project is like a trumpet heralding memories of a time when civic art was a natural right and outcome of any neighborhood planning process.

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