What’s in downtown New York and high in the air? It’s the High Line, a fascinating urban park constructed from abandoned elevated freight train tracks. More than five million New Yorkers and visitors have run, walked, sat and sunned themselves on this unique aerie, which celebrated its 12th birthday last month.
The High Line was inspired by a Parisian reclamation of infrastructure, the Promenade Plantée, a public garden/walking path that follows an old train line. In turn, the High Line has motivated urban planners across the planet to take old infrastructure and turn it into something usable and lovely.
An early morning walk on a recent sunny spring day revealed the visual byplay between the plants, grasses and trees of the High Line and the surrounding architecture of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. On your next trip to New York, a stroll or a run on the High Line ought to be on your itinerary.
The High Line offers open access to all from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays. On weekends, the park is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with free timed-entry reservations. Photo by Michael Levin
The High Line offers a mix of nature, art and incredible views. Photo by Michael Levin
The High Line’s 1.45-mile-long design is a collaboration between James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Piet Oudolf. Photo by Michael Levin
The High Line’s 120-species plant palette, curated by Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf, includes sturdy meadow plants and scattered stands of sumac and smokebush but is not limited to native plants. Photo by Michael Levin
This bird, spotted on The High Line, shows how nature and urban areas can coexist. Photo by Michael Levin
According to a 2011 New York Times article, it can cost substantially less to redevelop an abandoned urban rail line into a linear park than to demolish it. Photo by Michael Levin