New York City’s High Line Park is a stunning example of successfully transforming unused urban infrastructure into public space. Towering 30 feet above street level, the park was built on a former elevated rail line, part of 13 miles of tracks constructed in the 1930s, known as the West Side Line. Use of the tracks declined as trucking replaced railroads as the primary shipping method in the city. In 1980, the tracks were abandoned and became so derelict that the city called for their demolition. In 1999, however, neighborhood residents Joshua David and Robert Hammond formed the Friends of the High Line, an organization that promoted the idea that the space should be converted into a public park. The plan gained wide-spread support and in 2002 the city officially designated the High Line as park land.
The High Line was designed by landscape architects Field Operations with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and the expert Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf. The park features over a mile of stone pathways lined by native trees, shrubs, and perennials interspersed with pieces of the old railroad tracks and wide wooden lounge chairs. The High Line also features an amphitheater with a window overlooking 10th Avenue, grassy lawns, and gorgeous views over the Hudson River. Phase 1 of the High Line’s construction was completed in 2009 and Phase 2 was opened to the public last summer. Construction of Phase 3 is already underway and, when it is completed, the High Line Park will span from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street near the Javits Convention Center. The southernmost entrance to the park is located at the intersection of Washington Street and Gansevoort Street, Manhattan. Currently, the northernmost entrance is located on 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. Free Admission. http://www.thehighline.org/