Of course everyone knows about famous Central Park, Union Square Park and New York’s other conventional parks. But did you know that the Big Apple is home to a park in the air? On Manhattan’s West Side you will find a former freight rail line, standing 9 metres (30 feet) high, which has relatively recently become a new green space in New York called the High Line. The High Line Park, however, is an exciting project where you can find more than just nice plants…
High Line History
The High Line runs through the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. Street-level railroad tracks were originally built to serve these once highly industrial West Manhattan districts. The elevated railway was constructed in 1930 after a number of accidents took place between the street-level traffic and freight trains which caused numerous casualties and led to the area becoming known as ‘Death Avenue’. The authorities even tried hiring men on horses, nicknamed the “West Side Cowboys”, who rode in front of the trains waving red flags to warn people of the approaching danger however, the idea wasn’t as successful as they expected. It was finally decided that the many street level railroad crossings would be eliminated and replaced with elevated freight rail lines as part of the “West Side Improvement Project”.
The last freight trains to run on the High Line were in the 1980s, and for years afterwards it was under threat of demolition. The non-profit organisation “Friends of the High Line”, who formed at the turn of the Millennium, decided to campaign for the line to be preserved and reused as a public open space.
Once their appeal had been ruled successful, an open ideas competition called “Designing the High Line” was announced. Architects from all around the world sent in applications. Finally, the urban design firm James Corner Field Operations and architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro were crowned winners. Construction began in 2006 and the first section of the High Line Park was inaugurated in 2009. The second part was opened in 2011 and a third area is still in the planning stages.
High Line Today
The New York City High Line is 1.6km long and runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. There are numerous entrances to the park, which is currently open daily from 7:30 am until 5 pm (normal hours 7am to 10pm).
But what can you expect from the High Line? The High Line Park is divided into different sectors including the Wildflower Field, featuring plants that used to grow on the freight rail line, as well as Washington Grasslands and the Sundeck Water Feature. For Friends of the High Line it is all about sustainability. They do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Finally, up on the High Line visitors will also find several restaurants, cafés, ice cream shops, and even the occasional event. The best way to find out what’s on is to take a look at the official High Line website.
The High Line Park in New York was designed so that there are almost always plants in bloom. However, perhaps the best time to visit is in June and July when most of the flowers are at their best. Book one of our vacation rentals at www.feelnyc.com and take a look at this unique project for yourself!