Sunday, June 14, 2009

New York City’s High Line

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.

Below is a photo from Ed Yourdon that gives the feel. Keep in mind, what you’re seeing is three stories above street level.

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.]

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