The High Line is an elevated public park in New York City, built on a disused freight railway line. It features lush gardens, art installations, and spectacular views of the city skyline. Visitors stroll along pathways to soak up the unique atmosphere while marveling at the vibrant flora and captivating architectural details of one of Manhattan’s most popular attractions.
Since its official opening in 2009, the High Line has become internationally renowned as an innovative example of urban redevelopment, providing many economic benefits to the surrounding neighborhoods while inspiring cities around the world with its approach to public space design.
The High Line Facts for Kids
- The High Line is a public park built on an old railroad track.
- It’s located in NYC and runs from 34th St to Gansevoort St.
- It offers a unique perspective of the city.
- Opened in 2009 and designed by James Corner Field Operations.
- It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
- The park features art installations and unique landscaping.
High Line Park: Urban Oasis with Access for All in NYC
Stretching for over a mile and a half (2.33km), High Line Park has become a popular attraction in New York. From Gansevoort Street to 34th street, this park offers spectacular views of the city and is an oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of its streets.
In terms of access, there are 11 entrances along the route, five with disabled access. The wheelchair-friendly staircases and elevators allow easy rise from Gansevoort, 14th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th streets, respectively.
For those without wheelchairs, there are equivalent staircase-only entries available at 18th, 20th, 26th, and 28th Streets, plus 11th Avenue. In addition to those entries, there is also a separate interim walkway running from 30th street by 11th Avenue up to 34th street. This stretch is open until dusk.
The attraction’s opening hours vary throughout the year: 7 am -7 pm during winter, 10 pm in spring & fall, and 11 pm in summer – allowing plenty of time for people to take in all its beauty!
History of the High Line
Back in 1847, the City of New York approved the construction of railroad tracks along Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, which enabled the safe transportation of various commodities like coal, dairy, and beef.
However, due to many train-traffic accidents, the area received an unpropitious nickname, ‘Death Ave,’ and public debate about how hazardous it had become began during the early 1900s.
In response to this, Robert Moses founded The West Side Improvement Project in 1929 – an expansive dollar $150 million project including the construction of elevated highways and St John’s Freight Terminal.
At the same time, the High Line Viaduct was built, designed to go through blocks instead of over avenues. Its construction demanded the demolishment of 640 buildings.
Enabled with direct connections to warehouses and factories, it facilitated the movement of cargo without disruption on street traffic.
It furthermore passed under Washington Street, where Western Electric Complex is located – although this particular section still existed in May 2008, it is not connected to any park development.
The West Side Improvement brought much-needed safety, as Eleventh Avenue saw its last stretch of street-level track removed by 1941, allowing for more adventurous ideas like 2013’s proposal of creating an elevated park on this structure.
This linear park, open to the public, has become one of the city’s major attractions, with 15 million visitors a year, and has removed ‘Death Ave’ from the local lexicon, replacing it with vibrant culture and recreation space that captivates millions.
The Big Repurposing Proposal
In 1999, Friends of the High Line was formed. Joshua David and Robert Hammond began advocating for its preservation and reuse as a public open space.
Joel Sternfeld was allowed to photograph the potential park in 2000, and his photographs became a vital tool when discussing saving the High Line. Mary Boone, Martha Stewart, and Edward Norton hosted fundraising benefits between 2001 and 2002, while Diane von Fürstenberg and Barry Diller followed in 2003 with their own event.
The following year saw a design competition with 720 participants entering from 38 countries. Then Edward Norton and Robert Caro held an exhibition of these ideas at Grand Central Terminal in July.
Later that month, a bipartisan group of officials requested federal title handover for park use which Mayor Bloomberg answered with plans for the same that September.
The New York City government committed $50 million to establish the park in 2004, raising $150 million by 2021 through fundraising efforts. This led to the Surface Transportation Board issuing a certificate of interim trail use on June 13, 2005, allowing removal from the national rail system before it officially passed from CSX to city ownership that November.
The Reconstruction and Design of the High Line
The iconic High Line in Manhattan has been an ode to avant-garde art, urban redevelopment, and modern-day innovation since its inception over a decade ago.
On April 10, 2006, Mayor Bloomberg officiated a ceremony commencing construction.
The Hudson Yards project was designed by the New York-based landscape architecture firm Field Operations (James Corner), alongside architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, garden designer Piet Oudolf from the Netherlands, lighting designer L’Observatoire International, engineering design team Buro Happold and Robert Silman Associates.
Significant backers included Philip Falcone, Diane von Fürstenberg, Barry Diller, and Alexander and Tatiana von Fürstenberg (von Fürstenberg’s children).
By September 20, 2014, Phase Three was complete. The final section runs from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street, straddling the path of the old railway with lighted entrance stairwells at 14th & 16th Streets, as well as the Chateau Marmont’s 337-room Standard Hotel located at West 13th Street.
At times of uncertainty, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City in 2020, when most parks remained open, but social distancing measures posed threats to public health—
The High Line closed temporarily and was reopened on July 16, 2020, with limited capacity—enforcing a timed-flow entry with only northbound movement allowed from Gansevoort Street and all other access spaces being used for egress only while weekends still required a pass—all measures that raised questions about adaptive reuse of existing infrastructure under changing circumstances.
On January 11, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced proposals to extend the iconic High Line east to Moynihan Train Hall and north to Hudson River Park featuring 1 200 feet (370 m) spurs planned to cost $60 million connecting 30th street one block eastwards, concluding at 9th Avenue adjacent to Moynihan Train Hall whilst extending another spur section 34th Street through Javits Center arriving crosswise across West Side Highway into Hudson River Park.
However, due to lack of funding, neither spur is completely developed yet still today offering propitious prospects for augmentative growth in this ever-evolving project triumphantly manifesting itself operationally amongst the city streets!
Important Facts and Overview
The park stretches from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, going through the West Chelsea and Clinton/Kitchen Hell’s districts.
The park was constructed atop a disused freight train rail line that was decommissioned in 1980.
The park was created by James Corner Field Operations, a modern landscape architectural firm, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, a New York-based architecture firm, and was inaugurated in 2009.
A tree-lined path, public artworks, and a variety of flora, such as wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs, may be found in the park.
The park includes 11 entrances throughout the route, five of which are accessible to people with disabilities, and wheelchair-friendly staircases and elevators provide simple access from Gansevoort, 14th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th streets, respectively.
The park is also a cultural destination, with the Chelsea Market, a prominent food market, at its southern end, near the park’s main entrance on 15th Street and 10th Avenue.
The park is also a popular destination for both locals and visitors, providing an oasis of green among the hustle and bustle of the city as well as a unique perspective of the city.