desire path

A close look at any city park or green will typically reveal footpaths that break away from paved walks, trails that countless pedestrians have worn into the grass. Such a trail is a desire path: the route people have chosen to take across an open place, marking a human pattern upon a landscape. “A ‘desire path’ is what hikers or walkers have worn thin through finding a better way, or a shortcut, to a desired place,” writes Mary Morris in Acts of God. Today, many planning agencies make use of such patterns when designing a public space. They first clear the land and then, after a few weeks or months, examine the ground for evidence of a human trail before choosing where to lay the path.

Lan Samantha Chang