Located on the lower west side of New York City is one of the absolutely coolest public spaces you’re ever going to find. The High Line is a unique park built on an historic but decommissioned freight rail line elevated above the streets on the lower west side of Manhattan. The idea of turning the old train tracks of what was once New York City’s “Life-Line” into a green area and public park was an innovative one, and when we first visited this amazing place a few years ago, we were intrigued by what we saw. Our return visit only reinforced our feelings of admiration for this spectacular preservation project and those who champion its cause.
The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan’s largest industrial district. No trains have run on the High Line since 1980. Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 when the historic structure was under threat of demolition. Construction on the park began in 2006. The first section, from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, opened June 9, 2009. The second section, from West 20th Street to West 30th Street, opened in spring, 2011.
The design and layout of all of the High Line elements – everything from the railings, to the benches, and the wonderful landscaping all mesh together in a very stylish way that effectively celebrates and incorporates both the history and feel of the old train tracks. As we walked from 20th Street to Gansevoort Street near Greenwich Village, it was almost surreal to be wandering along such a beautiful pathway right above the streets of one of the busiest cities in the world. Kudos to the “Friends of The High Line” who fought so hard for the preservation and restoration of what is a wonderful addition to NYC. If you ever get the chance to wander along the High Line, take it… you won’t be disappointed.