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Kurt Seitz presents the history of the greenway concept with a view towards a universal definition: "greenway: a linear corridor of open space connecting public places, connecting people with nature, and protected for environmentally sustainable purposes that include recreation, conservation, and transportation."

arrow Presented at the 20th American Trails National Symposium - Download the poster (980 kb)


A Case of Mistaken Identity: Striving for a Common Greenway Concept


By Kurt Seitz, Master of Regional Planning (2009,) State University of New York at Albany

Based on my final Master’s Research Paper (thesis) entitled Infrastructure for a Sustainable Society: Planning for Greenways in New York State, this poster touches on the historical background of how American greenways have evolved, the mix of concepts by which the term greenway is known today, and a universal definition and vision for the future.

It may seem readily obvious or even unnecessary to define a greenway; however, my experience and research has shown that greenway is an unknown, confusing, and/or ambiguous term used in many disparate ways by professionals. This may prevent a wider understanding of greenways and their benefits. Meanwhile, greenway is used as a standard term in other nations of the world where greenways have become commonplace.

Our society has reached a critical point in history. Our ability to sustain our way of life is being challenged as greenhouse gas emissions speed global warming, biodiversity is threatened worldwide, Americans are increasingly separated from nature, and an economic recession and increasingly uneven distribution of wealth has severely limited the opportunities available for many people. More Americans live in an urban and often polluted environment, separated from one another by traffic and living unhealthy lifestyles deficient in physical exercise. By providing infrastructure that accommodates a multitude of needs, greenways can help address the lack of sustainability of our society.

book cover


A modern greenway movement blossomed two decades ago and has continued to progress in various forms and in various locations around the country. However, a comprehensive greenway vision is often lacking among those both inside and outside of the planning profession while politicians and government officials often provide only a mediocre commitment toward planning for environmental sustainability and “smart growth”. My objective is to help renew the greenway movement at a statewide and nationwide level, beyond the few localities where greenways have become well-established.

From the poster -The Present: a multitude of concepts

Kurt Seitz
Master of Regional Planning (2009), State University of New York at Albany

arrowDownload the poster (980 kb) presented at the 20th American Trails National Symposium

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