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?