I’m biking east along I-80 and today I’m in Des Moines, Iowa.
When you look around in downtown, it’s quite noticeable. Buildings are interconnected with pedestrian bridges, forming an extensive network of enclosed walkways. It’s called Skywalks.
According to one article, it appears to be a result of a series of fortunate events, rather than a careful master plan. One bridge built to connect a mall to a parking, two nearby buildings went up also wanting to connect to the parking structure. I’d also like to imagine a smoke filled restaurant in Des Moines where the local business people get together all the time, and it’s that connections between owners of those buildings that enabled this collaboration, which must have also involved the city officials.
This reminded me of networks of underground passageways in downtown Tokyo. First, subway stations are built, then nearby buildings wanted to connect directly to its corridors, then people opened tiny stores to benefit from foot traffic, and next thing you know you have 10 miles of the underground corridor network full of shops & eateries.
Below you can see 1:1000 scale model of this network somebody built.
I have fond memories from my childhood visiting those places on weekends and just be a part of a lively vibe. I felt that I belonged there. I also remember the ceiling to be very low in various sections. I constantly duck but I still hit my head from time to time.
If I get to Des Moines, I’m looking forward to walking around. I hope the place is lively.