The High Line

8/22/12




While in New York for a conference recently, I managed to sneak away to the High Line, a beautifully landscaped park built in what was once an above-ground set of train tracks. The park is a mile long and I walked the entire length of it, taking in the beautiful landscaping and architecture along the way.

The High Line, in its previous life, was used to transport meat, produce, and other goods by freight train directly to the warehouses and factories that surround it. It opened in 1934 as part of a redevelopment project to improve New York's West Side. Prior to the High Line's existence, trains shared the road with street traffic which resulted in many accidents and deaths.

In 1980, the last freight train to run on the High Line made its delivery of three carloads of frozen turkeys. A couple decades earlier, the southernmost parts of the High Line had already been demolished due to a decrease in freight train usage.

Twenty years after the last train ran on the High Line, New York City began taking steps to save it from demolition and to turn it into a public space. In 2006, construction began to convert the train tracks into a linear park. The first section of the High Line (Gansevoort St. to W. 20th St.) opened in 2009; the second section (W. 20th to W. 30th St.) opened in 2011. The third and final section was recently acquired and has yet to be rebuilt and opened to the public.

I love learning about reclaimed urban spaces such as the High Line (Paris has a railway-turned-public park too, the Promenade Plantée). Although San Jose doesn't have a defunct above-ground train track to convert into a public park, it got me thinking about what other spaces this city can reclaim for public use, even on a smaller scale. 

For my San Jose readers: What urban spaces would you like to see reclaimed for public use? 

8 comments:

  1. Have to go there on my next visit to NYC (whenever this will be)!! Love the pictures, such a great idea!

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  2. I really hope I can visit NYC again sometime soon! I was only there for 3 days the last time, and that was nowhere near enough.

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    1. Yeah I was there for four days this past trip and I didn't get to check out as many things as I had hoped. Jeff and I are hoping to come back soon.

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  3. Wow, I'd love to visit there! Such good use of space... and any city could use an extra bit of greenery.

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  4. I've been wanting to go there.

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    1. There are a few food vendors that have set up shop on the High Line too, so you can grab a bite to eat and admire the scenery. I got a paleta from a vendor (paleta is Spanish for popsicle).

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  5. We also spent an afternoon on the High Line park while I was in NYC for BlogHer. My son enjoyed watching a mime perform, and my husband stopped and read every history sign we came across. I loved the reclamation project and how pretty and cool this part of the city was in the hot weather. I also had a popsicle--cucumber lime! It was a really lovely part of our trip.

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  6. My goodness, that's amazing! I'm going to have to try to go there next time I'm in NYC. Thank you. :)

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