It is a no-brainer that if ring roads are an urban feature to guide city exploration, radials might be too. Eindhoven has traditionally had a spider-like lay-out with radials connecting the market centre to surrounding villages and important cities further away. So lets have a look at their potential.
Radials are interesting because until quite recently, many cities, including Eindhoven tended to extend outside their borders as ribbon developments along the roads connecting them to neighbouring villages. Therefore, older buildings beyond the city centre tend to line such roads, whatever is left of them that is.
The above 1941 map of Eindhoven shows the radials to check out for the older building lining them (counter clockwise starting in the West.
South of the railway
- Willemstraat – Strijpsestraat-Zeelsterstraat
- Hoogstraat – Blaarthemseweg
- Stratumsedijk – Aalsterweg and
- Stratumsedijk- Leenderweg
- Parklaan – Kievitlaan – Tongelresestraat
North of the railway
- Kruisstraat – [disappeared] – Woenselsestraat – [disappeared] – Vlokhovenseweg
Woensel was radically altered during the post WWII reconstruction and extension of the city so much less of before is left. On the 1941 map you can e.g. see a radial predecessor to the current Kennedylaan, of the main radial toward Son and beyond parts are left, and only the Boschdijk, the very first properly surfaced road (constructed 1802 – 1806) connecting the provincial capital Den Bosch via Eindhoven to the industrial centre of Liège (Luik) is pretty much as it was pre WWII.
The Kennedylaan…why would anyone even consider to walk/run such a highway? Well, maybe that immediate reaction to the suggestion is its best reason to do so. Expectations are the biggest hindrance to seeing what is there to see. Whatever timbre they may have. Expect paradise….the slightest disappointment is likely to totally spoil everything, blinding you to the abundance of beauty that made for the expectations in the first place. Expect nothing, and you’ll just never go out and check if you are right. It may not be overwhelming but I am sure you’ll be surprised at least a couple of times when following the Kennedylaan as a corridor, not on the bicycle path directly lining the road but (where possible) on the embankments on either side. Little finds, neighbourhood parks, the occasional unexpected building, or estate, a beautiful tree.
A great site to explore if you are into old maps of the city is this interactive resource of the national topographical mapping service (now a part of the cadastre) which enables you to zoom in on detailed maps from 1815 to today of anywhere in the country, and check out aerial photographs (form 2006 onward). Check it out!
How to explore? As buildings are best appreciated from a distance, walk/run one side of the radial and back on the opposite side. In addition to this giving you the best opportunity to focus on both sides of the road, you will be amazed by how different a cityscape looks heading one way or the other. True for any environment. So while often intuitively resisted, and out-and-back is hardly different from a circuitous route.
A bit of nice urban music to end with: