In 1980, the trains stopped running along the High Line, a mile-and-a-half of elevated railway in New York City’s Meatpacking district. By 2000, the abandoned rail line’s topside had become a scruffy greenbelt, unseen by those on the city streets below. Photographer Joel Sternfeld documented the High Line then with photos like this.
Around that time, some citizens had an idea: Let’s save the structure from demolition and make it a park. Such things are easier said than done, but they did it. The first phase of High Line park opened to the public on June 9, 2009.
I happened to be in New York this weekend, so I walked the High Line. Although it is now a public space, the High Line still evokes its former self. At many points, stretches of track remain, plants pushing up between the railroad ties.
Congratulations to all those involved with the project. It adds a new dimension to the term urban renewal.
[For further perspective on the High Line’s architecture and landscape design, including a slideshow and video, see Nicolai Ouroussoff’s review in The New York Times.]