Manhattan does The High Line


New York City takes urban renewal to a new height.

Aim for the The High Line in Lower West Side Manhattan and be overawed. This 2.33km linear park built on the southern portion of the disused elevated rail line, known as the West Side Line, is nothing short of amazing.

Friends of the High Line

Photograph: Courtesy The Friends of the High Line

The elevated railway was originally built in 1934 with the purpose of removing dangerous train traffic off busy New York City Streets, but interstate trucking in the 1950s led to a drop in rail traffic and sections of the line were demolished and, by 1980, fell into disuse.

Courtesy-  Friends of the HighLine  Photographer Unknown

Photograph: Courtesy The Friends of the High Line Photographer Unknown

The Friends of The High Line was formed in 1999 by a resident group drawing from the neighbourhoods that the line ran through.  The group advocated for its preservation and reuse as a public space.   By 2009 the first section was opened for public use.  Further sections were regenerated with one remaining section to be opened in 2017.


The High Line – Summer 2015 Photograph: GRACIE

Inspired by a similar project in Paris, The High Line has been planted as an aerial greenway. The garden’s designer, Piet Oudolf, cleverly included the self-seeded landscape that grew on the tracks during the 25 years when they were not utilised.


The High Line – Summer 2015 Photograph: GRACIE

The design characteristics take into account the four seasons, with species of perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees, specifically chosen for sustainability, texture and color variation. The result is spectacular!


Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia Capillaries) Photograph courtesy of The Friends of the High Line

Snow Day January - Photo by Friends of the High Line_4-resized

A Snowy Day in January: Photograph: Courtesy The Friends of the High Line

And then there are the views and fascinating vistas of the old and the new regeneration of Chelsea, the Meatpacking District and further out to the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty.  A stroll along here is a real joy.  Rest in a deck chair, admire an art piece or enjoy a water feature.


Frank Gehrys designed IAC Building glimpsed from The High Line reflecting the surrounding sky. Photograph Summer 2015 GRACIE

The kids have been well catered for by transforming the original framework of steal beams and girders to create a series of safe sunken areas for play.


Children at play on the repurposed pershing square beams Photograph: Courtesy The Friends of the High Line

You can pause for a bite to eat, enjoy the great and varied art works, picnic on the lawn (yes, there is actually a lawn), or rest your legs on the seating steps.    There is always an event or special happening to keep everyone entertained.  They’ve gone to extraordinary lengths here.


Albert Einstein ‘Love is the Answer’ Mural by Mr Brainwash (Thierry Guetta) at 15th Street and Washington Street as seen from The High Line: Photograph Summer 2015 GRACIE

Attracting 5 million visitors annually says it all.  Go if you can, it’s jaw dropping.

Check it out for further great photos and information here.