freeway amour / motorway love

A recent visit to Seattle, Washington left the author with some serious early morning syndrome as he struggled to adjust to Pacific time. With internet access this time proved invaluable in terms of researching a days activity. A particular fascination with the interstitial space beneath freeways had emerged that week as the US has much more in the way of aerial roads. Trawling the internet for Seattle freeway information brought to light this amazing shot by Matt Finnish on Flickr.

It is part of a set, one of them has the intriguing tag line “offramp with no destination in Seattle’s Montlake area“. This statement brought to mind the ‘stubs’ of junctions planned for Mancunian Way [A635(M)]  Photos here. A googlemaps search and subsequent examination of the satellite images revealed a most surprising piece of public intervention.

The date of available satellite imagery online is always questionable, just look at your own city and try and find buildings that you know have been recently constructed. The idea of making messages large enough to be seen from aircraft is not a new one either. Commercially, just near to Manchester Airport, the offices of the Renold Chain company bore their name from 1954. The building itself was an RIBA award winner by Cruickshank and Seward. There are undoubtedly numerous examples of the same commercial use globally. The idea has even perpetuated grafitti culture, Steve Powers, in his book The Art of Getting Over first brought to the author’s attention the 350 foot long piece by Saber at LAX. The story was further illuminated by Saber himself unpon the publication of Mad Society. This however appeared to be a different event, one of an appreciation of a surface and its visibility without regard for publicity or infamy, apparently an uncontrolled expression of deisre and a sound local knowlegde of available tarmac.

Renold Chain Company offices (1954) seen from above in the 1970s. Image from Cruickshank and Seward archive.

Saber, LA River, visible on approach to LAX. Image from Streetbombing.

A visit to the site was definitely in order to record this strange intervention and to see if time, or the authorities, had eroded the marks to the point they were no longer visible. The weather was typically Mancunian (that fine rain that soaks you through) and the exploration unusually rewarding.

Date stone of incomplete freeway works.

Access ramp with temporary (permanent) concrete barriers in place.

Words; you can make out ‘GINA’

Big heart

The walk back revealed a good piece of adaptation by the local skateboarders who had fashioned a ramp, using minimal material, to the rear of the concrete barrier.

Probably one for the Temporary Services crew.

Upon return an internet search revealed local press had picked up on the act of love and were asking the question ‘Who is Gina?” The comments make for an entertaining read, whilst not reaching a conclusion.