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The High Line, Transformed
June 10, 2009 7:56 AM   Subscribe

The first stage of New York City's High Line redesign was opened to the public yesterday, and reviews are generally favorable. The city's newest park (whose concept is similar to Paris’s Promenade Plantée,) transforms an abandoned, above-ground, elevated freight train track into a nine block "lofty expanse of walking and green spaces that stretches 60 feet wide in some spots". It also provides visitors with a unique look at some of the city's architecture and layout. (Previously on MeFi)

If you live in or are visiting NYC and would like to see the park, here's a handy guide of "things you should know", including location, directions and entry points.

Here's what it used to look like.
posted by zarq (51 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, advocates for some of the City's other parks are upset by the extra security being provided to the High Line Park.
posted by zarq at 7:57 AM on June 10, 2009


Highline.org has images and video of the project. The Sundance Channel has produced a series of digital shorts (which premiered online on 5/26,) called "High Line Stories", profiling those who were involved in the project.
posted by zarq at 8:03 AM on June 10, 2009


I've been excited for years about the idea of getting access to the HighLine! I'd be out there today, but I'd kind of like to go for the first time when it isn't wet and crappy out. Very, very soon though.... :)
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:06 AM on June 10, 2009


Oh man, that's gorgeous. I love the way they have plants rising between the gaps in narrowing concrete strips. It looks exactly how you might imagine the pathway would "rot away".

I'm ridiculously jealous that you live in a city that can afford to create stylized rot, instead of being too poor to prevent actual decay :(
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:09 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll be waiting a few weeks to check it out, but I'm looking forward to it.
posted by gaspode at 8:12 AM on June 10, 2009


I have been waiting for years. I can't wait to actually experience it.
posted by caddis at 8:33 AM on June 10, 2009


I'm ridiculously jealous that you live in a city that can afford to create stylized rot, instead of being too poor to prevent actual decay :(

Well, I wouldn't go that far. We have plenty of real decay.
posted by zarq at 8:38 AM on June 10, 2009


I am going Thursday evening, even if there are crowds. I want to be part of the experience during its first week since I've been waiting for so long for this to come to fruition. I don't know why I (and so many others) are so excited about it. Does anyone have any clue why this has attracted so much attention and captivated New Yorkers and others?
posted by Falconetti at 8:42 AM on June 10, 2009


Jason piqued my interest back in 2004 with a wonderful series of posts on the high line and his explorations. I think this was the first one.
posted by caddis at 8:45 AM on June 10, 2009


Does anyone have any clue why this has attracted so much attention and captivated New Yorkers and others?

I'm not a local, but on my visits it seems that open, green spaces are fairly well used, as the city is so built up. As there is little open space to convert to new parks, and tearing down existing buildings for such things would be amazingly expensive, this is a unique opportunity for a new park in an urban area, and it seems to have been well designed.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:46 AM on June 10, 2009


It's too bad 10th/11th ave is so far away from anywhere people go.
posted by smackfu at 8:47 AM on June 10, 2009


Does anyone have any clue why this has attracted so much attention and captivated New Yorkers and others?

Because it's urban exploration with government approval.
posted by smackfu at 8:48 AM on June 10, 2009


I love the city, and NYC especially (just had a rant on this last night!) but I'm not sure of the appeal of the High Line Park. Can someone give me some insight? I'm trying to like it but I feel a little nonplussed here.
posted by grubi at 9:03 AM on June 10, 2009


I went yesterday to see it after it opened to the public. I'm very impressed in particular at how they maintained the "overgrown train tracks" feel and made it integrate well into its decaying surroundings. Particularly amusing was the great swath of glass through which one could exchange stares with a yoga class.
Note that only the first of 3 sections is open. The others will be rolled out periodically over time, as they finish developing them, thus extending the walk for the full length of the High Line.
I'm curious to see how this affects the neighborhoods through which the park passes.
posted by aletheia at 9:15 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have any clue why this has attracted so much attention and captivated New Yorkers and others?

I have to admit, I don't get it. It's Gansevoort st. to 20th st. It seems like an incredibly long wait for 8 blocks worth of park. I mean, if you walk a couple of hundred feet, you have the the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, which runs 32 miles around the park. It seems to me that the only thing this park has going for it is that it's up in the air.


It's too bad 10th/11th ave is so far away from anywhere people go.


There's a lot of great art galleries in that area, as well as the aforementioned Waterfront park.

On preview: Oh snap, they're opening the entire high line. Well that could be cool.
posted by orville sash at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2009


Does anyone have any clue why this has attracted so much attention and captivated New Yorkers and others?

I'll second what filthy_light_thief said and add a couple of things.

This project reclaims a bit of New York history, and repurposes it in an exceptionally nice way -- converting a former eyesore into a public space. The High Line was built in 1934, but has been closed for business since 1980. It's a neighborhood fixture, an abandoned remnant from the last century. As the city grew and interstate trucking increased, the Line became obsolete. During the 80's and 90's, owners of businesses and residences set underneath the tracks lobbied the city to have them removed. But a few developers had other ideas. Transforming them into a park is a pretty elegant idea.

Also, it's unique. In a city with ~1700 parks(!), this is the only one that's entirely elevated to three stories above ground level. People who work an live in neighboring buildings will no longer have windows that overlook an abandoned railway. And park visitors will get a rare chance to experience a segment of New York City that hasn't previously been open to the public. It's almost like gaining access to a secret world. The High Line's been "officially" closed off to the public for 25+ years. So with the restoration of access to the public, many people are undoubtedly curious and excited to see what it's like.
posted by zarq at 9:18 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Nevermind, they're only expanding it 14 more blocks. Color me unimpressed.
posted by orville sash at 9:18 AM on June 10, 2009


I'm curious to see how this affects the neighborhoods through which the park passes.

More curtains? ;)

I've been wondering about this, too. I suspect the influx of foot traffic will help local businesses for a while, at least until the novelty wears off.
posted by zarq at 9:27 AM on June 10, 2009


On preview: Oh snap, they're opening the entire high line. Well that could be cool.


Nevermind, they're only expanding it 14 more blocks. Color me unimpressed.


Uhm. That's the entire high line.

And what pray tell would impress you? It isn't exactly part of the city long on open spaces.
posted by JPD at 9:32 AM on June 10, 2009


wasn't this featured in the movie "Fresh"? Whenever I see this in it's original incarnation I always wonder what the story is behind it.
posted by docpops at 9:35 AM on June 10, 2009


So they said they were going to open it yesterday, and then they opened it Monday just to confuse everybody.

I really like it! I work 2 (long) blocks away, and I visited Monday after work. The views (both of the stuff in the park and the stuff around it) are great, and I'd much rather sit and read a book up there than along the Hudson---which you can't even do in the high teens and 20s because of Chelsea Piers.

Also, if you're in the area, visit Chelsea Market (which the High Line runs next to/sort of through). It has some amazing food-related stores (including Manhattan Fruit Exchange, which is in my opinion the best grocery store in the city) and feels like the indoor equivalent in terms of repurposed urban public space.
posted by goingonit at 9:53 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's too bad 10th/11th ave is so far away from anywhere people go.
posted by smackfu at 8:47 AM on June 10 [+] [!]


I understand why you think that, but actually there are a bunch of offices in the area, to say nothing of all the people who live in Chelsea and the West Village. I'm really excited about the highline opening. The limited section open now connects my apartment to my office building.

In this neighborhood:
Google NYC offices (in the old Port Authority building; I think Barnes & Noble has offices there as well)
Chelsea Market
Interactive Corp Building (Ask.com, Citysearch, etc etc)
Hotel Gansevoort
Del Posto (Mario Batali) and Craftsteak (Tom Colicchio)
posted by ben242 at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2009


The High Line is two block from my apartment and I am thrilled to have some park space so near by. I'm heading over tonight if it isn't raining too much.
posted by kimdog at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2009


I made a post about the landscaper,
posted by hortense at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2009


Flickr Hive Mind has a ton of photos.
posted by zarq at 10:03 AM on June 10, 2009


This looks great! I barely know this part of Manhattan at all, but I will make a point to go and walk it the next time I am in town.

Now if only Toronto can take a cue from this and work out How To Solve A Problem Like The Gardiner Expressway.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:22 AM on June 10, 2009


Well I will be touristing in NYC in October and this is close to where I will be staying. So, yeah, definitely will walk it a time or two!
posted by Danf at 10:24 AM on June 10, 2009


I'm curious to see how this affects the neighborhoods through which the park passes.

I heard on WNYC that construction has started on a whole bunch of condo and office buildings around the High Line, lots of predictions that it's going to drive a lot of development.
posted by exhilaration at 10:41 AM on June 10, 2009


It actually doesn't look half bad - I had only seen it pre-renovations (technically illegal, but every just sauntered through the parking lot and climbed up), and it looks like it tries to keep some of the feeling of an overgrown abandoned railway. Will have a look when I get a chance.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 10:44 AM on June 10, 2009


every = everyone
posted by Calloused_Foot at 10:44 AM on June 10, 2009


how long would it take to stroll this thing? (planning an upcoming NYC visit)
posted by mr.marx at 10:48 AM on June 10, 2009




I'm really hoping Chicago follows suit and the Bloomingdale Trail project goes through. I've snuck my bike up there and ridden along those abandoned tracks, as far as I could go without disturbing the encampments of homeless people. It was amazing. It'd be one step closer to my dream of bicycle superhighways cross-crossing the city.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:05 AM on June 10, 2009


very well then, I'm going there! thanks, zarq.
posted by mr.marx at 11:08 AM on June 10, 2009


I'm surprised at all the "meh" in this thread. It seems like a really positive reuse of something that was an ugly negative for the neighborhood for a generation. I happy when cities build anything that's not another shopping center or sports venue.
posted by octothorpe at 11:24 AM on June 10, 2009


It's like watching someone play SimCity 2000 agonizingly slowly. Get to the arcologies already!
posted by Pastabagel at 11:35 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're very welcome, Mr. Marx. :)
posted by zarq at 11:39 AM on June 10, 2009


It's too bad 10th/11th ave is so far away from anywhere people go.

I'll try to remember that EVERY SINGLE DAY when I commute to 12th ave. :)
posted by drmanhattan at 11:40 AM on June 10, 2009


It looks gorgeous, uncannily like the early renderings from the architects, it's going to be really interesting to see how this project develops, sounds like the organisers have fought hard to keep it from being taken over by any one social group - I'm amazed that the park goes over a trendy neighbourhood but is still "an escape" rather than being monopolised by said neighbourhood and how will it keep the ephemeral intimate derive going once this thing hits the time out/lonely planet and isn't it really interesting to have this little drift of cultivated ruin shooting across the streets below and oh I just adore it (from afar). So totally going to be overrun with architects though.
posted by doobiedoo at 12:11 PM on June 10, 2009


Popular Ethics: ... a city that can afford to create stylized rot

And Postmodernism, though I guess that's really the same thing.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:45 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just got back.

Things I liked:
the consistent aesthetic
the benches
the view
the plants
it (currently) ends at one of those big park spots that has a bunch of cars on top of each other...those are badass

Things I didn't like but expected/understand:
billboards
you can only go one way for now
dudes pointing at clubs and saying, "These are the new hotspots!" in all seriousness

Overall, it's pretty cool and I would definitely go a couple blocks out of my way to walk on it.
posted by saul wright at 1:56 PM on June 10, 2009


Is this "High Line" something you would need to have a New York to understand?
posted by rusty at 1:57 PM on June 10, 2009


oh yeah and the architecture is pretty cool...I'm not usually a Ghery fan but seeing the IAC building from this height made me like it more.
posted by saul wright at 2:00 PM on June 10, 2009


Ah, can't wait to check it out. New/repurposed public/green space is always welcome and judging by the pictures, they did a good job.
posted by defenestration at 2:27 PM on June 10, 2009


When I worked in NYC, I primarily lived in Jersey City, next to an abandoned elevated rail line near Newport/Pavonia. It was a massive early 20th-century stone viaduct with room for about four to six tracks (some were long gone, it was hard to tell). I regret only sneaking up there once, but from there the view was simply amazing. That could be an urban park, too, but right now the bridges are demolished leaving block-by-block sections with, as far as I know, no pedestrian access.

Anyway, I'm not sure I was ever aware of the High Line at that time, although I did take note of rail infrastructure in other parts of the city. But having had that one brief experience on the other side of the Hudson, I know exactly how amazing this is.
posted by dhartung at 8:01 PM on June 10, 2009


For anyone wanting to see the rest of the line before it's finished, as far as I know it's still possible to access it from the very end at 33rd and 12th. At least that's how I got up there 2 summers ago; I was on that block recently and nothing had changed so I assume it would still work.
posted by Venadium at 10:19 PM on June 10, 2009


The opposite of so many futurist ideas, and all the better for it! Excellent.
posted by asok at 3:06 AM on June 11, 2009


At least that's how I got up there 2 summers ago

Aren't they actively working on the other sections of the park though?
posted by smackfu at 6:54 AM on June 11, 2009


Walking the High Line for those illegal photos. Also, 9 reasons why the highline sucks from oobject, which is how I found out about the project.
posted by artifarce at 6:26 AM on June 12, 2009


Half those reasons why it sucks seem to be "because if it's not maintained, it will be crummy".
posted by smackfu at 6:47 AM on June 12, 2009


I checked it out yesterday. I thought it was great and I really liked elements of the design. Upon first look, it seems like they've really made great use of the space. If it wasn't so damn sunny out when I was there, I would've hung out for quite a while. As others have noted, the cultivated overgrown look was clever and well done. Also, the drinking fountain was really neat; as I sipped from it and noted its coolness, one of the workers walked by and said, "we don't waste nothin' here!"

I'm not in that neighborhood that often, but when I am—and I have some time to kill—I'll probably head to The High Line.
posted by defenestration at 10:32 AM on June 13, 2009


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