Recently, I was lucky enough to take a bite out of the Big Apple, New York City. One of my planned trips was a visit to the High Line, an elevated freight rail line transformed into a free public park on Manhattan’s West Side. I had seen some images of the project taking shape in various landscaping magazines and online over the past couple of years and wanted to see it for myself because it looked amazing.
I mentioned my idea to some of my colleagues and they said it was a ‘must see experience’, well, in terms of landscape design, anyway.
I should point out I am a designer, not a landscape architect. However, over the years, working at Liz Lake with some of the most talented people in the profession, I have grown to understand the importance of great landscape design to big cities – and how it creates spaces where busy people can relax, take a deep breath and get a little closer to nature.
Anyway, back to the High Line and its history. Running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues, the lines opened in 1934 to carry goods to and from Manhattan’s largest industrial district.
After decades of growth in the interstate trucking industry, the last train ran along the tracks in 1980, pulling three carloads of frozen turkey. Property owners lobbied for demolition but, luckily, there was a court challenge to stop it.
In 1999, Friends of the High Line was founded, to advocate for the High Line’s preservation and reuse as a public open space. The design was headed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an interdisciplinary design studio based in New York City.
In 2009, Section 1 of the High Line opened to the public to great acclaim and it has gone from strength to strength ever since.
If you ever find yourself in New York I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the High Line. It’s a great place to take a break from the frantic and often chaotic New York City!
I accessed the High Line via the lift on West 23rd Street but it is just one entrance of many. Where to access the High Line.
Can’t get to New York? There’s somewhere quite like it – aside from skyscrapers -closer to home. The Parkland Walk, running from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace, is four and a half miles of old railway transformed into a green city oasis.
Another time, I’ll share with you my thoughts on Central Park – I‘m a keen runner and found the layout and design of this huge city park inspirational.