The High Line

1 Introduction

1.1 Location

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The High Line park is located in Manhattan in New York City. It runs from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street in the lower western side of the island.

1.2 Description

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The High Line is an elevated, linear public park. It is an innovative transformation of an elevated railway, repurposing the disused infrastructure into a public park. It acts as an urban gallery or museum, allowing people to experience the city in an extraordinary way. From careful vantage points along the length of the park, the city becomes the exhibits.

The High Line is 1.6km long and is divided into three stages of construction. The first and second stages are already built and open to the public. The third has yet to be commissioned.

The total project cost for stages 1 and 2 was $152.3 million. This cost was funded via a collection of sources:

  • $112.2 million from the City of New York.
  • $20.3 from the United States Government.
  • $400,000 from the State of New York.
  • $44 million from Friends of the High Line.

2 History 

2.1 Birth of the High Line railway

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In New York in 1846, a free public train shared the street with all other traffic types. Thanks to the high record of traffic accidents and deaths on 10th Avenue, this street was also known as Death Avenue.

2.2 Last Cowboys

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From the year 1847 to 1941, a group of cowboys were hired to ride along the train tracks and warn people of oncoming trains..

2.3 High Line railway construction

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Construction of the High Line Railway finished in 1934. It was elevated 10m above the ground.

2.4 Last train

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The last train made its final journey along the High Line in 1980. Consideration was given to demolishing the infrastructure, though no decision was ever taken.

3 Park proposal

3.1 Friends of the High Line

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Co-founded by Joshua David and Robert Hammon, Friends of the High Line was created to lobby the city to protect the railway. At that time, they had no money, experience or proper plan.

3.2 Joel Sternfeld

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Sternfeld popularised the wild landscape growing from the railway surface via a series of photographic exhibitions.

3.3 Design competition

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In the first half of 2003, an open ideas competition was conducted to solicit proposals for reuse of the High Line. 720 teams from 36 countries entered. Hundreds of design entries were displayed at Grand Central Station. The winning submission was a collaboration between architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro, landscape architect Field Operations and Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.

3.4 Ownership

The High Line is owned by the City of New York and falls under the jurisdiction of the NYC Department of Parks and RecreationIt was donated to the city by CSX Transportation Inc., the private owners of the original railway. The land beneath the High Line is owned in parcels by New York State, New York City and more than 20 private property owners.

4 Design

4.1 Plants

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While it was hoped that the existing wild landscape could be in part retained, the design team came to the conclusion that removing and replacing it was necessary: “Retaining the existing, self-sown landscape was considered, but after much investigation the design team, the City of New York, and Friends of the High Line concluded that it had to be removed – to properly assess the High Line’s structural and maintenance needs, and to responsibly prepare the underlying structure for the creation of a park that will last decades into the future.”

4.2 Gansevoort Plaza

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4.3 Open Space

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4.4 Diversity

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4.5 10th Avenue Square (street cinema)

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5 Impact

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The High Line project has had impact across many areas of influence:

  • $2 billion in economic impact
  • 29 major development projects
  • 12,000 jobs
  • 2,558 new residential units
  • 1,000 hotel rooms
  • 39,300 square metres of new office space
  • Total visitation in 2011 = 3,724,886