The High Line is part of an elevated railroad built in the 1930s to deliver freight on the West Side of Manhattan. It runs from Chelsea to the Meat Packing District. The rails were elevated in response to many fatal accidents that occurred when the trains ran at street level.
Trains stopped running in 1980 and the High Line was abandoned and largely forgotten except for a few adventurous city dwellers. A variety of plants and trees sprung up in the gravel of the old rail bed. It developed a kind of wild beauty. I made a few trips to the High Line in the old days when my body could jump fences and I wasn't afraid of the law. It was forbidden and thus more attractive.
In the 1990s the High Line was going to be destroyed. But a group of neighborhood residents started Friends of the High Line to promote the idea of an elevated park. They were successful and the High Line opened to the public in June 2009. The designers have incorporated some of the old rails into the new park. Many of the plant species that took root naturally have been cultivated and replanted in the new landscape.
I loved the old High Line and the random, organic way it developed. It had a seedy glamour. But, of course, the city would not keep that as it would not attract the middle class and tourist traffic they needed to justify this very expensive project. I am, however, grateful for any outdoor public space, which is so rare in Manhattan aside from the parks and waterfront.
This video of the High Line and the views from the High Line is the result of two trips I have made there since it opened to the public, the first one accompanied by my friend Myles
More information at thehighline.org. This site is rich with information as well as pictures of the old High Line before the renovation.
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