“That’s the High Line of that city . . .” NYC’s RR Park in the Sky

Posted: August 30th, 2011

New York City has transformed a blighted and abandoned stretch of train tracks into an iconic urban park space with a thriving sense of community that is a best practice example for other cities.  The High Line is a public park built on a defunct railway that runs 30 feet above the west side of Manhattan between 10th and 11th Avenues, from 34th Street to Gansevoort Street for 1.45 miles in the meatpacking district.

Click here to see the High Line slide show and photo gallery by Nic Garcia for The City Project.

The first portion of the park, which runs near the Hudson River from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, opened in June 2009.  The second phase opened in June 2011 and runs from 20th Street through West Chelsea north to 30th Street, doubling the length of the park.  The elevated rail line opened in 1934 and closed in 1980.

New York City has invested about $153 million in the first two sections of the park, generating an estimated $2 billion in new developments.

When Kristina Harootun from The City Project visited friends in Manhattan, they knew exactly what to say when she asked for their favorite place: “High Line.” The park has created a “thriving sense of community that suggests . . . that the very words High Line will eventually become international shorthand for a certain mode of urban reinvention. ‘It’s going to become so iconic that you’ll get a pedestrian walkway in Boston or Berlin or Bangalore, and people will say that’s the High Line of that city,’ . . . predicted [André Balazs, a High Line pioneer].”  Jeff Gordinier, Walking on Air, N.Y. Times, Aug. 26, 2011.

Other cities are looking up to the High Line, including Detroit, Jersey City, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, Rotterdam, Hong Kong and Singapore.  Atlanta is redeveloping a 22-mile rail corridor that encircles the city. In the next 25 years, Atlanta plans to add 1,300 acres of parks and green spaces, public transit and trails along the corridor, increasing Atlanta green space by nearly 40 percent at a cost of about $2.8 billion.  Kristina Shevory, Cities See the Other Side of the Tracks, N.Y. Times, Aug. 2, 2011.

The High Line, championed by community activists at Friends of the High Line, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Parks Department, is designed by an architectural team from Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

For more information:

Visit the F.A.Q. at Friends of the High Line.

Visit High Line (NYC) in the New York Times Topics.

Coming Soon: High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky, by Friends of the High Line co-founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond, is the first book that tells the story of the project, and documents its history and the park in photos.