In 2015, The League of Creative Interventionists hosted a 500 person community meal on the Innerbelt Freeway and asked residents from all over the City of Akron what they wanted to see in the future of the space once it closed to automobile traffic. 87% of the participants wanted a space for connection and nature. In 2018, we created a temporary green public space on an adjacent section of the decommissioned freeway to test this idea and gain valuable insight for a potential permanent green public space on the freeway.
The space was activated in August and September of 2018 and included 86 planted and potted trees, trails, a play area for children, an outdoor museum highlighting the history of the freeway, a stage for local performers, and an outdoor workshop to teach new skills to people of all ages. We are now working with the City of Akron and local organizations who can continue to steward a permanent green space on the freeway.
Learn more about the League of Creative Interventionists.
The Innerbelt Freeway was built in the 1970s to help revitalize downtown Akron but never fulfilled on its original intentions and was decommissioned in 2016. Learn more about the history of the Innerbelt Freeway from the following resources:
A perspective of the Akron Innerbelt (1963 Planning document)
In 2015, the League of Creative Interventionists, with support from the Knight Foundation, brought together 500 Akron residents from each of the city's 22 neighborhoods for one giant shared meal on the Innerbelt Freeway. Residents were asked what they wanted to see on the future of the freeway, which was set to close to automobile traffic the following year. 87% of residents shared that they wanted to see a green public space that would reconnect the Downtown and West Hill neighborhoods.
In 2017, Franks submitted a proposal to the Knight Cities Challenge and was awarded a grant to create the Innerbelt National Forest. In 2018, working with the City of Akron, Franks and his organization, the League of Creative Interventionists, created a temporary public space next to the Innerbelt and after a successful two-month pilot are now exploring creating a permanent space.
The Innerbelt National Forest is located in Downtown Akron at Ash St & Quaker St adjacent to the Innerbelt Freeway and next to the Towpath Trail bridge.
Programs, League of Creative Interventionists
Design, League of Creative Interventionists
Kai Wick Studio
Design Lead, Akron
Programming Lead, Akron
Stephanie Leonardi and Summit Lake Build Corps, Akron
Video Lead, Akron