Chris Carlsson has a beautiful full gallery of “ghost” streets in San Francisco on Streetsblog site, and a guide to finding and exploring them yourself. Ghost streets are streets that were planned by the city at some point, but were never fully developed. Some exist only on old maps, but many were still anticipated enough that land was set aside by the city, making tracts between other properties. Specifically in San Francisco, many of these are narrow strips on steep inclines, unsuitable for roads, especially with the size of modern cars. What is in place instead of roads if what makes makes many of these ghost roads amazing. They are long narrow parks, tranquil paths that weave a nature trail between houses, in the middle of communities. Others are untouched swathes of land where local flora and fauna can flourish, acting as miniature preserves. They range from the unknown, hidden treasure, to community loved and used parks.
You may be wondering what this has to do with deconstruction and reclaimed materials, more than just the upcycled fence in the picture above. This has everything to do with land use and community planning, helping beautify and rebuild neighborhoods. After a house is deconstructed or demolished, far too often the lot is let empty, with the foundation filled with rubble as a safety precaution. Even as just an interim solution, making empty lots into green spaces great alternative. Making small parks or similar can also be a way of using parts of lots left after new construction in old neighborhoods. In Syracuse, for example, the law has changed concerning regulations for lot width and distance from curb to house, meaning that new houses can often not be built on historic lots, and that two adjacent lots need to be used. One option is to make a two lot sized house, or as in the case of 319 Marcellus, you have a partial empty lot, too small for new construction. This would be the perfect location for a small park, green space, or even a community garden. If these can be oriented systematically, you could even have a green nature trail through a community, leading from one park or garden to another, a pleasing alternative to concrete and asphalt. Visit the site to check out some more of his pictures, and to read about the histories of some of these ghost streets.