Tuesday, June 9, 2009

High above the Streets of New York: It’s a .... Park!?

One of the most creative and interesting parks just opened in New York City. But if you walk and walk and walk all over Manhattan, you may never find it!

Why? Because it’s 30 feet above the street!

High Line Park is build on the trestle of the abandoned West Side Line built by the New York Central Railroad in the 1930s. What I find most interesting is the design – an amazing blending of two forms I love, yet are contrary: industrial and naturalist design.

What I love most about it is that they kept the historically defining features: portions of the tracks, the railings, and the great steel structure holding it all up. Then, perhaps inspired by the wildflowers that grew unaided between the abandoned rails, the landscape design brings back intense plantings of a beautiful palate of wildflowers.

A Brief History

By the 1900s, New York was a great port with piers lining the Hudson River. Long before highways and interstates, all that cargo arriving was loaded on trains. And like streetcars, the trains rumbled along rails in the cobblestones, mixing with horses and carts.

The New York Central Railroad had its own “cowboys.” These cowboys didn’t herd cattle; they herded freight trains! Riding horseback, they guided the trains through the west side streets of Manhattan.

Certainly, this was dangerous and inefficient. A plan was drawn up to lift the tracks 30 feet above the streets. The High Line was born. The miles of viaduct meandered above 10th Avenue and even went through right through buildings.

Times changed. As the ‘30s transitioned into the ‘70s, transportation modes changed. Highways got better. The ‘50s brought the interstate system, and with government-provided infrastructure trucks became a faster and more flexible for transporting goods. The High Line slowly died.

Like other relics of a past industrial age, the High Line was scheduled for demolition. But, others had a vision to convert this relic into a linear park above the streets. The advocacy of the Friends of the High Line and others saved the structure. And now a most unique park is born.

Witness the evolution of the High Line: active rail line to abandoned viaduct to park.


The idea for this post come from my friend and fellow blogger, Nando. Check out his video interview about the High Line Park. And his blog post on the High Line at http://www.nandoism.com/

Most of the photos come from the Friends of the High Line’s web site: http://www.thehighline.org/. You’ll find many photos and videos, and much of the history of the Line and how it was saved.


Nandoism™ said...

What a fantastic post. It was so thorough and I enjoyed all the history invloved with the High Line. Thanks for sharing!

Keep up the great work!

Nsyncdiva420 said...

Ahh this park sounds so cool! I cannot wait to see it one day when I finally visit NYC! I see from your other blogs you live in my area...I live in Pensacola...well you have a new reader thanks to Nandoism for introducing me to your blog! :)

Rachy said...

Comment from Marie Chandra of www.Via-Her.com :

Hi Rachy. I enjoyed reading your article. I was actually given your blog's info by Nandoism. Would you be interested in posting a comment on our forum http://www.via-her.com/node/398 about the high line park?

I own the website www.Via-Her.com that gives advices to business women traveling for work. One of the city we follow is New York (in addition to Bangalore, Paris and Dubai coming soon). We are looking for locals to post information on their cities.

Rachy said...

You can read my review of High Line Park for ViaHer at http://www.via-her.com/node/398

bingkee said...

Would you believe I have lived in NYC for almost 4 years, and I haven't gotten to this park...I should visit this someday...

Rachy said...

In Lima, Peru, they also converted an abandoned rail line into a park. While both cities chose adoptive reuse over demolition, the results are quite different, but reflect the different histories, cultures, and architectural styles. Link to photos of Basurama in Lima, Peru: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/02/ruins-of-electric-train-turned-into-terribly-cool-amusement-park-in-lima-photos.php?campaign=th_rss

I Love-Hate America by Bing said...

I'd been in thhis place around early 2003 or late 2002...on a date with a man I met before my husband...hehehe.. I did not have pics because I wasn't really taking pics of dates with guys I'm still trying to get to know...hehehe.
That's why I love NYC....so many interesting sights to see with historical details.