THE HISTORICAL DIMENSION OF THE “METROPOLITAN WALKWAY” UP SAN CRISTÓBAL HILL

Cycle Routes
Francisca Salas For lofscapes
(Text And Cartography: Francisca Salas P)
19.12.2017
(1) Underpass of Funicular by Camino Carlos Ree, 2015 © Francisca Salas P. for LOFscapes / (2) Section of 0.6 km. Rustic Trail, Recoleta, 2015 © Francisca Salas P. for LOFscapes. / (3) Section of 0.6 km.  Rustic Trail, Recoleta, 2015 © Francisca Salas P. for LOFscapes. / (4) Virgin of Immaculate Conception on San Cristóbal Hill in 1919 © En Terreno (In the field)<www.enterreno.com> / (5) Preparation of the Trail to the Summit, 1923, San Cristóbal Hill © Cerros Islas (Island Hills)<www.santiagocerrosisla.c>Original source Flickr Pedro Encina, in Santiago Nostálgico. / (6) San Cristóbal Hill ca. 1935 (view towards the quarries of San Cristóbal Hill) © Francisca Salas P. for LOFscapes. 

This week we invite you to rethink your routes from a historical perspective. The implementation of the last segment of the “Metropolitan Walkway” provides a new interpretation of roads, routes, and paths as infrastructure that bring to public view a landscape built over time.

In May of 2015 we visited the recently opened “section zero” project of the Rustic Trail of Santiago’s San Cristóbal Hill. This section zero developed by the Elemental architecture office, seeks to recall the course of the historic El Carmen Canal, while joining the hill’s edges through the communities that contain it − Huechuraba, Recoleta, Providencia, and Vitacura − functioning like a horizontal route for pedestrian and sporting use (1). Last week (December 11, 2017) this last section was inaugurated, thus completing the 14 km trail included in the proposed “Metropolitan Walkway”(2).

(1) See Ciclo·Ruta Sendero Rústico · Cerro San Cristóbal (Cycle · Rustic Path Trail · San Cristóbal Hill), Santiago, Chile
(2)See map of cycle route The Historic Dimension of the “Metropolitan Paseo” of San Cristobal Hill© Francisca Salas P. for LOFscapes.


The historical dimension of the project, which recognizes older elements such as the canal, transform our cycling experience from a sporty, recreational experience to a cultural one. According to the landscape architect Anita Berrizbeitia, history − understood as an influential thematic layer in the development of a contemporary landscape architecture project − is a way of understanding the many forces at work on site. ‘Existing condition’ plans are expanded to include information on a site’s formal structures, but also to reveal a site’s trajectory toward its present condition.” (3). Based on the above, to understand the complexity of environmental forces, it is valid and necessary to ask ourselves: What role did the hill play before being transformed into a Metropolitan Park? How has its geographical and geological condition determined its programmatic transformation? What has remained and what has been adapted? What social, political, and cultural forces have driven this change? (4)

(3) Anita Berrizbeitia, “Re- Placing Process” in Julia Czerniak & George Hargreaves. Large Parks (New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008) p.178-179.
(4) Berrizbeitia: p. 178-179.


It was precisely the possibility of accessing the hill from the construction of its slope that led to the development of its current landscape. In 1908 the installation of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception on one of its summits consolidated the hill’s pilgrimage routes, and by 1910 the existing productive activity established a series of roads and trails that allowed the exploitation of thirteen important stone quarries. The material quarried from these sites was incorporated into the plan for Santiago’s urbanization. Today, we do not travel the hill with productive objectives. However, it is these old paths that transform the hill into a reflection of a series of historical facts and politicians’ ideas − along with other voices − about how the city should be with respect to its surrounding territory.

In this way, the Rustic Trail, as an infrastructure of connection between existing programs, is an example of a project that articulates a city, fostering the encounter of its inhabitants with their culture in a particular topographic condition. The implementation of the last segment of the “Metropolitan Walkway” allows for the interpretation of roads, routes, and paths as infrastructure that materialize the colonization of a landscape built over time. If, before the centennial, San Cristobal hill was understood as a landscape capable of providing resources to the city because of the stone it provided, today it is recognized as a programmatic support for the city as it establishes an encounter with history, geography, and territory.

Hours: Monday to Sunday 8:30 AM – 7:00 PM
For more information and specific events, see Parque Metropolitano de Santiago (2017) <www.pms.cl>

(7) See map of cycle route   The Historic Dimension of the “Metropolitan Paseo” of San Cristobal Hill © Francisca Salas P. for   LOFscapes.
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2019-10-28T18:01:36-03:00