High Line Park
529 West 20th Street, Suite 8W, New York, NY
The Official Website of The High Line
The Second phase of the High Line Park is completed recently doubling the park's length, connecting three neighborhoods along the West Side. One mile long New York City park is built on a 1.45-mile (2.33 km) section of the former elevated freight railroad spur called the West Side Line on the lower west side of Manhattan; it has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway.
In 1847, the City of New York authorized street-level railroad tracks down Manhattan’s West Side. By state law, for safety, each train had to be preceded by a man on horseback holding a warning flag or lantern and popularly known as a “Tenth Avenue Cowboy.” Yet so many accidents occurred between freight trains and other traffic that 10th Avenue became known as "Death Avenue". After years of public debate about the hazard, in 1929 the city and the state of New York and the New York Central Railroad agreed on the West Side Improvement Project, which included the High Line. The 21 km project eliminated 105 street-level railroad crossings and added 32 acres (130,000 m2) to Riverside Park.
The High Line opened to trains in 1934. It originally ran from 34th Street to St. John's Park Terminal, at Spring Street. It was designed to go through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue, to avoid the drawbacks of elevated subways. It connected directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods could be transported and unloaded without disturbing traffic on the streets.
The growth of interstate trucking in the 1950s led to a drop in rail traffic throughout the nation. In the 1960s, the southernmost section of the line was demolished. This section started at Gansevoort Street and ran down Washington Street as far as Clarkson Street, representing almost half of the line. The last train ran in 1980 with three carloads of frozen turkeys.
In the mid-1980s, a group of property owners with land under the line lobbied for the demolition of the entire structure. Peter Obletz, a Chelsea resident, activist, and railroad enthusiast, challenged the demolition efforts in court and tried to re-establish rail service on the Line. In the 1990s, as the line lay unused, it became known to a few urban explorers and local residents for the tough, drought-tolerant wild grasses, shrubs, and trees that had sprung up in the gravel along the abandoned railway.
In 1999, neighborhood residents Robert Hammond and Joshua David created the community group Friends of the High Line to push the idea of turning the High Line into an elevated park or greenway, similar to the Promenade Plantée inParis. Inspiration was also drawn from Millenium Park in Chicago.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speakers Gifford Miller and Christine C. Quinn were important supporters. The southernmost section, from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, opened as a city park on June 8, 2009. The middle section opened in June 2011, while the northernmost section's future remains uncertain, depending on a development project currently underway at the Hudson Yards.
The park was designed by the New York-based landscape firm of James Corner Field Operations, and architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, with planting design from Piet Oudolf of the Netherlands and engineering design byBuro Happold.
In addition to the integrated architecture and plant life, the High Line has cultural attractions as well. As part of a long-term plan for the park to host temporary installations and performances of various kinds, Creative Time, Friends of the High Line, and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation commissioned The River That Flows Both Ways by Spencer Finch as the inaugural art installation.
New York is a city of spectacular views from towering vantage points. But according to Joshua David the High Line is different. "It's called the High Line, but it's not that high. It's three storeys off the ground. I think that's what's so special. It's not that experience on top of the Empire State Building where everybody is like ants or little toys. You can shout down to people on the street. It's connected to street life but at a distance. There's a sense of remove."
"The High Line", a 6-minute documentary film, offers an excellent overview of High Line, its history, the movement to save it, and designs for its reuse. Featuring supporters like Mayor Bloomberg, Diane von Furstenberg, Edward Norton and many others. Directed and produced by John Zieman
A Four-minute fly-through animation of the design for Sections 1 and 2 by Diller & Scofidio + Renfro. The video was made possible by the Trust for Architectural Easements, and produced by Brooklyn Digital Foundry.
The Time Magazine footage on the opening of the High Line Section 1:
The High Line can be easily found and followed on the Google Earth
Remarkable 360 Cities panoramas with the atmosphere of the meatpacking districts and the new hip restaurants by Konstantin and Stefan Block
Guardian article and gallery on history of High Line by Paul Owen