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Urban Planet Weird Wednesday: Hanshin Expressway

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Weird Wednesdays on Urban Planet takes a look at obscure, absurd, and curious things about cities around the world.

Ever heard of William O’Dwyer’s proposal of running a Mid-Manhattan elevated expressway through the 10th and 11th floors of the Empire State Building? Crazy, right? Well, Japan did it.

In the mid ’80s, the Hanshin Expressway Company needed land to build the Umeda Exit of the Ikeda Route of the expressway in Osaka. However, that land was already home to the Gate Tower Building and after five years of trying to negotiate the land from Gate Tower, both parties conceded with the decision to just put the ramp through the building.

The Umeda exit now runs through floors 5–7 of the Gate Tower building. It is essentially a bridge, never actually coming in contact with the excessively-soundproofed walls of the building. The Hanshin Expressway is even listed as a tenant and pay rent to the tower’s owners.

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One comment

  1. Living in Japan, it amazes me that for a country with quite good public transit, how high vehicle ownership and car dependance is, outside of the downtowns. If families who did not use vehicles for commutes, which is the majority, were to sell them off, the Japanese automakers would collapse, but the freeway-blotted archipelago would have much cleaner and quieter air. As for freeway absurdities like the one described, I know of many places in Tokyo where there are Gordian knots of freeways, train-lines, surface-level streets and canals, tiered like the circles of Dante’s Inferno.